Here we go again: interactive dog toys seem to be endless. From fetching toys to treat dispensers and everything in-between, you could spend hours trying to track down a great choice for your unique dog. Whether you’re looking to get rid of Fido’s excess energy or help boost their mental game, an interactive dog toy is undoubtedly your answer. In fact, it’s a  necessity to have a couple laying around the house to keep your dog entertained an at the top of their game!

     It’s easy to search for an interactive dog toy when you know exactly the product you’re looking for. However, what if you have no idea where to even start? This article will help you brush up on your interactive dog toy knowledge: why they are key in Fido’s life and what are the best options on the market. This is the best first step in your interactive dog toy journey.

Table of Contents

Why Should I Buy an Interactive Toy?

Health 

     As a responsible dog owner, you know how important your pup’s health is. In fact, every step of your daily doggie routine has been carefully planned out to keep Fido going strong. Both physical and mental stimulation is a vital part of keeping your dog healthy. Interactive toys are the perfect tool!

Burn Energy

     These toys are a great way for your dog to burn off their pent up energy, especially when going outside is not feasible. Whether you are at work or it’s a rainy day, interactive toys can be a huge help. Interactive toys are suitable for most types of dogs, but they are especially beneficial to high energy dogs. By providing mental stimulation, these toys can reduce your dog’s boredom and keep them occupied.

Relieve Boredom 

     We all know boredom in dogs can have terrible outcomes, like chewing, barking, and digging. Luckily, mental stimulation can correct these unwanted behaviors almost instantly. Instead of letting your pup find their own entertainment, give them the correct tools to cure their boredom. Overall, an interactive toy will bring benefits for your pup, and most importantly: happiness!

Two Types of Interactive Dog Toys

We like to separate interactive dog toys into two distinct categories. By viewing them in this light, you will be able to pick the best option for both Fido and your unique lifestyle. The first category includes dog toys that require an owner’s participation. Here, you can think of fetching or tug toys. The activities performed with them create a great bonding opportunity between you and your pup! The second category includes dog toys that are designed for solo-play. For example, treat dispensers and dog puzzles are wonderful options for when your dog is left at home or if you need a little time to yourself. For the purpose of this article, we will hone in on the second category of interactive dog toys.

Main Benefits of an Interactive Dog Toy:
  • Provides mental stimulation
  • Keeps Fido entertained
  • Burns energy
  • Reduces boredom
  • Corrects unwanted behavior
  • Provides a bonding experience
  • Gives an opportunity for command training

What Are My Options?

     Puzzle balls, treat dispensers, slot machines?  Don’t these companies know there is such thing as too many options!  That’s OK, we’ve got a breakdown of all the different types right here for you! From chew toys to fill-able rubber balls to confusing displays with hidden compartments, we’ve seen them all. That’s why we’re here to help you make an informed decision as to what makes sense for your pup, your home, and your wallet.

The options we will go over in this article include:
  • StarMark Bob-a-Lot
  • Kong Stuff-A-Ball
  • Furry Fido IQ Treat Dog Toy
  • Ethical Pet Interactive Seek-A-Treat Flip N’ Flap
  • Nina Ottosson Dog Fighter By Outward Hound
  • Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel Toy
  • Pet Qwerks Talking Babble Ball

Treat Toys For Your Dog

     As simple as it gets; we’re talking about a toy that you fill with treats, and let your furbaby loose! Once you’ve done your part, you set the toy down and your pup can go wild. Most of these have slots for training treats to fit through. Your pup nudges the ball around until gravity can assist in a treat falling through one of the holes, and your pup is excited to discover a treat left behind as the ball rolls away. They help harness your pup’s natural instinct to forage for their food; which gives them tons of mental stimulation and physical fun! Essentially, you’re killing two birds with one stone here.

1. StarMark Bob-a-Lot

     The name says it all – it’s a toy that bobs back and forth! The unique designs allows you to fill it with your pup’s favorite treats, and it bobs as Fido plays with it. It is green, yellow, and purple, making it a colorful toy to spice up your collection. As your dog paws, nudges, and chases the toy, treats will fall out of the opening. The hole is adjustable, so you can choose the difficulty level for your dog. A smaller hole will make it harder for treats to fall out, and a larger hole will be easier.

Buying Tip: Comes in sizes small and large

     We especially love this toy because it allows Fido to play by themselves. Whether you are cleaning, cooking, or just don’t have time to entertain your dog, the Starmark Bob-a-Lot will come in handy. As always, be sure to supervise your pup the first couple times they play with the Bob-a-Lot. To learn more about this toy, check out our Starmark Bob-a-Lot Interactive Dog Toy Review.

2. KONG Stuff-A-Ball Dog Toy

      You can fill the grooves and the inside this fun toy with treats, food, or snacks for your pup. This toy is made of a high quality, durable rubber material that can withstand your dog’s aggressive play. This toy comes in small, medium, large, and extra large. Fortunately, it’s not incredibly easy for your dog to remove the treats from this ball. By providing a challenge for your dog, it will keep them engaged for a decent amount of time. In return, it will give them the mental stimulation they need to stay a healthy pup.

      The activity ball is great for dogs who need to be kept occupied during the day. To decrease separation anxiety,  you can hand your dog the ball on your way out the door. Just make sure to supervise them the first few times they use the ball to make sure they don’t chew off pieces of the rubber. You want to ensure your dog is 100% safe while they are left alone! This toy is so durable that you may only need to buy one per dog–ever! We highly recommend it.

3. FurryFido IQ Treat Dog Toy

     This treat puzzle ball is made with indestructible thermoplastic rubber. It’s super durable, and your dog will be able to chew and chew without destroying this toy. It’s 3 inches in diameter and comes in four different colors; transparent red, transparent blue, transparent yellow, and opaque blue.

     The IQ Treat Dog Toy improves your dog’s mental and physical abilities; what great health benefits!  In addition, it is also great for cleaning your dog’s teeth as they chew. The thermoplastic rubber has a fun textured pattern that helps to massage teeth and gums, which will in turn promote dental health. For the best results, fill this toy with your dog’s favorite kibble, training treats, or healthy human food. Just make sure you do your research before giving your dog anything new. Your dog will play until every last treat has been dispensed!

Puzzle Treat Boards for Your Dog

puzzle boards

     If you’re looking for a bit more of a challenge for your dog, a puzzle treat board may be just the right thing to try. With various flaps, pegs, dials, and other engaging parts, puzzle boards teach your dog how to problem-solve. There are varying degrees of difficulty depending on your dog’s experience level. You can fill these toys with kibble, training treats, or any healthy treat. They also give you the perfect bonding opportunity. On the first use, sit with your dog and let them watch as you fill each compartment with little snacks. Their brain power will go to work as they excited eyes follow your hands.

1. Ethical Pet Interactive Seek-A-Treat Flip N' Flap

     We love that this puzzle board is made from eco-friendly materials. Ethical Pet has high standards for all of their products, so you can be sure that you’re getting a quality puzzle board. It measures 10 x 10 x 1.6 inches and is made from a wooden material. The design is both mentally and physically interactive; a great way to cure boredom.

puzzle board

     Because dogs are natural working animals, it’s in their blood to have a task to complete. These boards give them an outlet to be the hard working dogs they are! Along with entertaining your pup. It will also be fun for you to watch your dog open flaps, slide disks, and move wheels to find their treats. For our full in-depth review, check out Ethical Pet Seek-a-Treat Flip ‘n Flap. Here, you’ll get a great grasp on how the toy works.

2. Nina Ottosson Dog Fighter By Outward Hound

     Our second top pick for dog puzzle boards is another wooden board. This interactive toy is made of a solid, eco-friendly wood and is made in Sweden. It features 9 treat pegs that slide around to hide and reveal your dog’s treats or kibble. Your dog has to knock each peg over to find each treat underneath. Similar to most interactive toys, it will entertain your dog for long periods of time and help to expel their energy. Specifically, this puzzle toy is a difficulty of 2 (moderate). It’s best for smart dogs with single step solutions. You may want to test out your dog’s treat-finding abilities before purchasing this puzzle board, to make sure it’s the right difficulty level for them.

     However, the fun won’t stop there. There is a whole line of interactive dog puzzle games from Outward Hound (Nina Ottosson)! Check them all out in our article Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Puzzle Dog Games. With varying levels of difficulties, you’ll be sure to find something perfect.

additional top picks

1. Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel Toy

     The Hide-A-Squirrel plush toy is one of Outward Hound’s best selling items. This toy features a plush tree trunk paired with small stuffed squirrels for stimulating and interactive play. Your pup will have a blast pulling each plush squirrel out of the holes in the tree trunk. Ranging from size junior to ginormous, it’s easy to find the perfect size toy for your pup. This plush toy also comes in two other characters; Hide A Bee or Hide A Bird plush, so you and your pup can choose your favorite.

     Each squirrel, bee, or bird includes a squeaker inside to further engage your dog. This can be troublesome for pups that like to destroy squeaker toys. Although, this toy will last longer than most, with up to six squeaker toy animals included. The junior, large, and jumbo sizes of this toy include three plush squirrels and the ginormous size has six squirrels. For more information, check out our Hide-A-Squirrel Dog Toy Review.

2. Pet Qwerks Talking Babble Ball 

     We love this interactive toy, because it utilizes sound to engage your dog. The Talking Babble Ball makes over 20 different wisecracks and sounds that are triggered by your dog’s movement. This ball may say, “Hey, what are you doing?” “Grrrrr” “Sweet Puppy!” and many more exclamations. The noises are triggered when your dog walks past the ball, breathes near it, or touches it. These fun sounds will make your dog go crazy–in a good way! It automatically turns off when your dog isn’t playing with it, but we recommend storing it away while not in use so it doesn’t randomly speak from your own movements. You can purchase this ball in size small, medium, and large on Amazon. Its durable construction will ensure many months of interactive playtime for your dog.