It is not at all uncommon for our furry friends to get bored, especially if they’re home alone all day! Ordinary dog toys might entertain them for a little while, but there is only so much you can do with a tennis ball when you’re by yourself. This is where interactive dog toys come in! Interactive dog toys are toys that stimulate your pup’s mind and provide hours of fun. They’re multi-functional, and give your pooch lots of options in a single package. Most importantly, their stimulating and multi-functional nature means that it will take a very long time for your canine to get bored, meaning they’ll be less likely to get into your flower beds or engage in other problem behaviors.
We reviewed countless interactive dog toys to identify the best of the best. We rated the toys based on their functionality, versatility, customer reviews, cost, and safety. After much deliberation, we narrowed our search down to the 5 best interactive dog toys out there.
If you have other pets, such as a cat, and you’re shopping around for some toys for them as well, read our list of The Best Interactive Cat Toys.
The Interactive IQ Treat Ball Dog Toy easily won as our top pick. Its design allows for active play as well as laid-back chewing. Plus, its treat dispensing mechanism is sure to encourage play and discovery in any dog.
The 5 Top-Rated Interactive Dog Toys
|Best Overall||Interactive IQ Treat Ball Dog Toy||4.1|
|Runner Up||Outward Hound Interactive Treat Puzzle Dog Toy||4.4|
|Best Budget Buy||Zoo Friends Burrow||4.6|
|Best Dog Puzzle||Trixie Poker Box||4.1|
|Best Treat Dispenser Toy|| OurPets IQ Treat Ball
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Our Top-Pick: Interactive IQ Treat Ball Dog Toy
The Interactive IQ Treat Ball Dog Toy is easily one of the best interactive dog toys on the market. This product can be filled with one of your canine’s favorite treats. In order to get to them, your dog must use their smarts. This feature encourages your dog to play actively and have fun with the ball. After all, they’re getting rewarded with treats just for playing! This reward can inspire even the laziest dogs to get off their feet and get moving.
This toy is made with 100% natural rubber, and it includes thickened edges to make it even more durable. Many customers who reviewed it expressed their amazement that even the most aggressive of chewers are no match for it. On top of encouraging play, this toy can help to keep your dog’s teeth clean. The rubber encourages chewing and also massages your pup’s gums, helping to clear away plaque and keep your canine’s teeth healthy.
Another great thing about this interactive toy is that your dog can play with it in a number of ways. Just like a standard ball, this interactive dog ball can be thrown and fetched. This versatility allows the ball to be used both when your canine has you around for company and when they are home alone. If your dog gets bored of fetch, they can opt to roll the ball and vise versa. This single ball can provide hours of non-stop fun!
Interactive IQ Treat Ball Dog Toy Key Features:
- Dispenses treats
- 100% natural rubber
- Thickened edges for extra durability
- Cleans Teeth
Our Runner-Up Pick: Outward Hound Interactive Treat Puzzle Dog Toy
Outward Hound Interactive Treat Puzzle Dog Toy is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a toy designed to train your dog’s brain. The premise of this toy is simple: your dog must get the treats you’ve hidden under some or all of the 9 removable dog bone pieces. But don’t be mistaken – simple doesn’t mean easy! Your dog will need to figure out how to get the treats out.
As you can imagine, this will take some thinking as well as physical coordination from your pup. But as soon as they realize that the toy contains treats and how they can get them, they’ll put their all into getting them all out. This makes the Outward Hound Interactive Treat Puzzle Dog Tot a great option for those that leave their dogs home alone for extended periods of time. Instead of laying around by themselves all day, your pooch can enjoy both play and treats with this uniquely designed toy.
As this interactive toy is ‘Level 1 (Easy)’ in a series of interactive toys by Outward Hound, you can treat them to the ‘Level 2 (Intermediate)’ after they have mastered it. There are a total of 4 levels, so you’ll truly be able to see your dog’s progress over time.
Outward Hound Interactive Treat Puzzle Dog Toy Key Features:
- Mentally and physically stimulating
- 9 food compartments
- Other levels of difficulty available
- Free of BPA, PVC, and phthalate
Best Budget Pick: Zoo Friends Burrow
Are you looking for an interactive dog toy that won’t break the bank? Then the Zoo Friends Burrow might be a great choice for you. This dog toy is just $13, and it provides your pup with hours of interactive fun. This toy comes with four parts – one larger toy featuring some holes, and three smaller toys that fit inside these holes. Each of these smaller toys fits inside the holes on the bigger toy and contains a high-quality squeaker. However, to get to the smaller toy and squeaker, your canine must first maneuver the smaller toys out of, the larger one, which requires physical coordination and thinking.
With this hide-and-seek design, this toy is bound to keep your dog busy for hours, making it a wonderful option for pet owners who are commonly gone for hours at a time. This toy is also a great option for canines that are more toy-driven than food-driven, such as puppies. These dogs will have more motivation to hunt for and retrieve the smaller toys than they would have for finding treats.
The Zoo Friends Burrow also comes in multiple cute, fun designs. You can get the Monkeys ‘n Banana, Elephant cave, Meerkat den, or one of the other great designs. It also comes in two sizes, one for large and medium dogs and one for small dogs.
Zoo Friends Burrow Key Features:
- Hide-and-seek design
- Multiple high-quality noisemakers
- 4 toys in 1
- Available in many sizes and designs
Best Dog Puzzle Toy: Trixie Poker Box
The Trixie Poker Box is four puzzles wrapped up in one. This puzzle toy has four different boxes, which each hold a treat and are opened with a different mechanism. For example, one box requires your pooch to pick up the lid by a string, while another requires your dog to slide out a drawer. Each of these boxes is a separate puzzle on its own and can be used separately by your canine or slid onto a base and used with the others.
The difficulty of the puzzles can be varied by changing the number and placement of treats. For instance, you could place a treat at the very front of the drawer puzzle to allow your pup to grab it with little effort, or you could place it in the very back, making your dog pull out the drawer all the way before they can receive it. You even get a small instruction booklet with your purchase filled with tips and tricks on varying the challenge level and training your dog through play.
Customers praised this puzzle toy for its durability. It is not uncommon for dogs to attempt to destroy puzzle toys to gain access to the treats inside, so it is extremely important for puzzle toys to be made of a durable material. The Trixie Poker Box is made of high-plastic for this very reason.
Trixie Poker Box Key Features:
- 4 puzzles in 1
- Adjustable difficulty
- Includes a booklet of tips and tricks to ensure your pet retains interest
- Made of durable, high-quality plastic
Best Dog Treat Dispenser Toy: OurPets IQ Treat Ball
Is your pet, for lack of a better term, lazy? Do regular tennis balls no longer excite your pup into playing? Then you might be interested in this treat dispensing ball. The OurPets IQ Treat Ball is designed to encourage even the laziest dogs to exercise and have fun while they’re doing so. This toy is the leading interactive treat ball on the market. Its design allows kibble or treats to be placed inside the ball. Then, as your pet rolls it around and plays with it, food is dispensed. In other words, your pooch gets the exercise he or she needs and gets rewarded for it! This treat ball also twists apart for easy cleaning, which can be especially important when food is involved. It is made of strong, durable plastic and is completely non-toxic.
This ball comes in two sizes and is ideal for small to medium dogs. However, some customers have complained that their toy-sized dogs have gotten their teeth stuck in the ball’s dispensing hole, so if you have an extremely small dog, this might not be the ball for you.
This ball also features adjustable difficulty levels, which makes it accessible for even less-than-smart canines. This feature also makes it possible to make the puzzle harder as your dog gets better at it, encouraging your dog to play with the ball even after they’ve figured out how it works.
OurPets IQ Treat Ball Key Features:
- Promotes exercise
- Adjustable difficulty levels
- Twists apart for easy cleaning
- Two different sizes available
Who Should Buy an Interactive Dog Toy
Every dog needs mental stimulation, from energy-filled puppies to senior dogs. Just like people, dogs can get bored and need to flex their mental muscles now and then to be their happiest and healthiest. Interactive dog toys can help this happen. Because this category of dog toy encourages your dog to think to get a treat or toy, it can be a great addition to any dog toy collection. Dogs who are particularly intelligent or prone to boredom might specifically benefit from interactive dog toys, which will keep them entertained and let them use their innate intelligence.
However, it isn’t just smart dogs that can benefit from interactive dog toys, even the average dog with a so-so intelligence can benefit from these toys as well. Many interactive dog toys also encourage play and exercise. If your pooch is spending more time laying around on the sofa rather than up on their feet, it might be time to encourage them to move around with one of the toys mentioned in this article. When tennis balls are no longer exciting enough to encourage your pup to play, an interactive dog toy might be just what you need.
Important Features to Consider
An interactive dog toy should have a number of important features. Here’s what to consider when selecting an interactive dog toy for your dog:
- Adjustable Difficulty. It isn’t a secret that some dogs aren’t as smart as others. A one-fits-all dog puzzle difficulty isn’t possible with the wide range of dog intelligence levels out there. Because of this, it is extremely important for interactive dog toys to have adjustable difficulty levels. If a toy is too hard for a particular dog, that canine probably isn’t going to be interested in it for very long. At the same time, if an interactive dog toy is too easy, the dog is probably going to lose interest very quickly. Adjustable difficulty is a must for all interactive dog toys.
- Safety. It is extremely important that the interactive dog toy is designed with a material that is non-toxic and safe for dogs. After all, dogs do the majority of their playing with their mouth, so it is important that their toys are safe to put in their mouth. Safety should always be your number one priority, and interactive dog toys are no different.
- Availablity in different sizes. Many interactive dog toys work by challenging your canine to use their thinking skills to get to treats or toys hidden inside. If your pooch is too little or too large for the toy, the puzzle can cease to be challenging at all. For example, if your pet is too small for a particular dog toy, they might be able to reach their nose inside and get the treat as opposed to rolling the toy around like they are supposed to! It is extremely important that the toys are available in many sizes so you can choose the perfect one to fit your canine.
- Ease of cleaning. Many interactive dog toys utilize treats to encourage dogs to use them. Because food is involved, the ability to effectively clean the dog toy is very important. After all, the last thing you want to do is accidentally feed your pooch moldy treats!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an interactive dog toy and how does it work?
An interactive dog toy is simply a dog toy that is mentally and physically stimulating. This purpose is different from your standard tennis ball or a squeaky toy, which only encourage chewing and physical play. The key to an interactive dog toy is that it promotes your pet’s mental capabilities by providing a puzzle of some sort. This puzzle could be anything from pulling a string to reveal a toy to rolling a ball to get a treat. Many interactive dog toys use treats or smaller toys to encourage dogs to use them.
Do dogs need mental stimulation?
Just like humans, every dog needs mental stimulation. Without it, dogs can quickly become bored, which can cause them to seek their entertainment from elsewhere (and not always in an appropriate way). Often, when a canine is being destructive or particularly excitable, it is because they are bored and not had enough mental stimulation. This can be especially true for canines that are often left home alone and do not receive regular stimulation from their human companions. Just like it would be boring for us to sit at home all day by ourselves, the same can be said for our dogs.
How can I tire my dog out?
Often, pet owners will take their canines on long walks or to the dog park in an attempt to tire them out, but then discover when they get home that they are as hyper as ever! While physical exercise is necessary to calm your excitable pooch, mental exercise is as well. To be content and stop searching for the next activity, dogs need to be both physically and mentally fulfilled. This can be done quite easily with interactive dog toys, which commonly encourage both physical and mental play.
What games should I play with my dog?
You should play whatever games you and your canine both enjoy. It is important to find something that your dog finds engaging, and you find enjoyable. It is not uncommon for your furry friend to absolutely be obsessed with a game that you cannot possibly play one more second of. For example, some dogs could play fetch for hours, while some pet owners find that their arms become sore after a few dozen throws. Often, humans will get bored faster of a particular game than their furry friends as well, and find it hard to get their pets to transition to a new game. This is why interactive toys often encourage dogs to play with them with either treats or toys. Sometimes our canines need some encouragement to switch their focus!