Best Interactive Dog Toys

Updated March 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

35 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
3 Experts Interviewed
60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best interactive dog toys

Interactive dog toys are designed to keep dogs entertained for a longer period of time than regular dog toys. These interesting toys pose some kind of puzzle or challenge that stimulates the dog’s brain. Some interactive toys are ideal for occupying dogs while their humans are out of the house; others have parts that make them suitable for supervised use only.

If you’re interested in purchasing an interactive toy for a special dog in your life, the first factor to consider is what type of toy you want. Do you think your dog would enjoy a basic treat-dispensing toy, or would they prefer having their brain challenged with a puzzle toy? Many dog parents like to buy more than one type of interactive dog toy to keep playtime interesting.

Also consider the size and durability of any toys you like the look of, and think about whether they're safe and suitable for your pup.

You'll find the details you need to make an informed purchase in this buying guide. We have also listed our top interactive dog toys, which you can examine more closely when you're ready to buy.

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Always check that any interactive dog toys you choose are made from safe, non-toxic materials.

Key considerations

Types of interactive dog toys

It's important to choose the right interactive toys to suit your dog. While this isn't an exhaustive list, here are some of the most common types of interactive dog toys.

Puzzle toys

Puzzle toys for dogs feature a range of pieces that your dog needs to open, slide, or otherwise move to find the treats within. They're great for intelligent dogs who tend to get bored easily, but most dogs can learn to solve them if they're food motivated and you start with an easy puzzle toy.

Snuffle mats

Snuffle mats are made from multiple pieces of fabric sewn together, in which you can hide treats and pieces of kibble for your dog to find. The idea is that your dog must snuffle in between the fabric pieces for food, thus occupying them for some time. You can even feed your dog all of their kibbles in a snuffle mat to make mealtimes more interesting.

Treat-dispensing toys

A similar premise to the snuffle mat, but in a more compact form, treat-dispensing toys contain one or more small holes that dispense treats which you stuff inside. Your dog then moves the toy around with their nose and paws until treats drop out.

Automatic ball launchers

If your dog loves to play fetch for longer than you could possibly throw a ball, consider an automatic ball launcher. You simply drop a compatible ball in the launcher, and it tosses the ball for your dog to chase. You can even teach dogs to drop balls into the launcher themselves so you can sit back while they play alone.

Hide-and-seek toys

Hide-and-seek dog toys feature several small toys that fit inside a larger component. You stuff the small toys inside the big toy for your dog to find and remove. Not all dogs understand the object of these toys at first, but you can encourage them to delve inside the larger toy by dropping a few treats inside.

Moving toys

Battery-operated moving toys move independently, encouraging your dog to chase and pounce on them. With a few exceptions, these are usually balls that roll and shake on their own. They often make sounds to keep dogs interested for longer.

Size

Interactive dog toys are available in a huge range of sizes, from extra small to extra large. It's important that you choose the right size toy for your dog. If you buy your canine companion a toy that's too small, it can pose a choking hazard, and it's also easier for your dog to break. Toys that are too large tend to pose less of a risk, but it might not be possible for your dog to even pick the toy up if it is extremely large and the dog is extremely small.

Durability

Not all interactive dog toys are equally durable. Plush toys, for instance, are easy for dogs to destroy, and any dog who loves to shred will tear them to bits in minutes. Some brands, such as Kong, are known for their durable rubber toys, which are a great option for destructive dogs. It's unsafe to leave dogs unattended with flimsy toys, so choose carefully.

You can find some nice plush interactive toys on the market, but if your dog tends to tear into plush toys, this isn't a great option.

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Features

Lights and sounds

Although not a common feature, you can find some interactive dog toys that make noise and flash dimly. If your dog tends to get bored of toys after a few minutes, they may find these kinds of toys more engaging.

Treat capacity

If you’re buying a treat-dispensing ball, check to see how much space it has inside for treats. Some have a large cavity inside; others have a slim reservoir. If you want to keep your dog occupied with treats for some time, a large capacity is best.

Smart features

A small handful of interactive dog toys with smart features exist on the market, allowing you to switch between modes via an app or monitor how much your dog has played with it. Although not especially common right now, smart dog toys are likely to gain popularity in the future.

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DID YOU KNOW?
Many behavioral problems in dogs stem from boredom. Some owners find that keeping their canine companion occupied with interactive toys has a profound effect on their behavior.
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Interactive dog toy prices

Inexpensive: You can buy many interactive dog toys for between $5 and $15, including some treat-dispensing toys and puzzle toys.

Mid-priced: Larger and more complex interactive dog toys cost between $15 and $30, including quality snuffle mats and elaborate puzzle toys.

Expensive: The priciest interactive dog toys cost roughly $50 to $150. This includes toys such as automatic ball launchers and those with smart features.

If your canine companion usually punctures the squeakers in toys, look for those with tough squeakers that still make noise after being punctured.

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Tips

  • Snuffle mats and treat balls are great for feeding dogs who eat their meals too quickly. You can put their kibble in the mat or treat-dispensing toy and significantly slow them down while also engaging their brain.
  • Many puzzle toys come in a range of skill levels. If your dog is new to these toys, it's best to start with the easiest offering and gradually increase the skill level once your dog has mastered their current model.
  • Consider the returns policy on any interactive toys you're considering. It brings peace of mind to know you can send it back if your dog doesn't like it or it turns out to be insufficiently durable.
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You may find your dog becomes tired of an interactive toy after a period of time. In this case, it might be time to buy them something new.

FAQ

Q. Are interactive dog toys useful for keeping intelligent dogs busy?

A. Yes, absolutely. A bit like children who misbehave in class because they aren't challenged, clever dogs can engage in destructive behaviors or become anxious if they aren't physically and mentally stimulated. Interactive toys are perfect for this. Smart dogs thrive on puzzle games in particular, but almost any interactive toy can have benefits. Of course, you shouldn't just provide your dog with interactive toys and nothing else. If you have an intelligent or high-energy dog, make sure they're getting ample exercise and that you spend time working on trick training, obedience training, or a canine sport to keep their brain ticking.

Q. Are interactive dog toys safe for unsupervised use?

A. The majority of dog toy manufacturers state that their toys should always be used under supervision. Ultimately, you know your dog better than anyone else. If they destroy any toy that comes within 10 feet of them and swallow the pieces, it isn't safe to leave your dog unsupervised with an interactive dog toy. On the other end of the spectrum, there are dogs who never attempt to chew their toys, in which case it should be safe to leave them with most interactive dog toys. Most dogs tend to fit somewhere in between the two — they can be trusted with some durable toys but nothing too flimsy.

It's worth noting that you should never leave your dog alone with any moving toys or ball launchers because your dog might keep chasing the toy long after they should have stopped, and there's generally more chance of injury.

Q. How will I know which interactive toy my dog would like best?

A. You cannot be 100% certain which interactive toy your dog would like best before trying it, but you can use your knowledge of your dog to make an educated guess. For instance, if your dog loves food, a treat-dispensing toy or puzzle toy containing food rewards would likely tick their boxes.

 

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