Do you ever think your dog finds you boring? That would be one thing, but what if your best four-legged friend finds his entire life dull and uninteresting?
That would be a form of suffering you would never want for him.
Our approach to this widespread problem was to review 10 of the best dog toys for bored dogs. We analyzed toys for quality, degree of engagement and customer satisfaction.
In this article, we’re going to review the following top 10 picks:
- Trixie Gambling Tower
- Outward Hound Ottosson Puzzle Brick Dog Toy
- Outward Hound Interactive Puzzle Toy – Plush Hide and Seek Activity for Dogs
- Up Dog Toys The Odin Treat Puzzle Toy
- Interactive Dog Ball by FurryFido, Dog Toys Ball and Treat Dispensing for Dogs
- KONG Wobbler Treat Dispensing Dog Toy
- West Paw Zogoflex Tux Interactive Treat Dispensing Dog Chew Toy
- VARRAM Pet Fitness Robot Full Package
- Wickedbone Smart Bone, Automatic & Interactive Toys
- iFetch Interactive Ball Launchers for Dogs
In a hurry? Then check out WickedBone App-Enabled Interactive Toy as Our Best Pick, or keep reading for product reviews and buying guide.
10 Reviews of the Best Interactive Dog Toys
Reviews of the Best Interactive Puzzle Dog Toys
A puzzle easily mastered by an adept beginner, the Trixies utilizes a three-tier system. Each level contains a treat of your choice and your dog should be able to solve each level progressively faster.
Your dog, of course, will utilize his keen sense of smell to detect the food’s presence. Then he must work out how to get to the reward. Since your dog must tug on a rope handle to pull the pieces out and release the morsels, nothing is by accident.
There are three cones in a tripod pattern at the base, and they must be pulled up rather than tipped or knocked over.
This puzzle dog toy is made of sturdy plastic that withstands wear and tear from normal use but not much chewing. The solid base keeps it in place while your dog plays with it.
There were a few complaints about the durability of the Trixie, but we took into consideration it is a puzzle toy and not a chew toy. Use caution with large dogs, and make sure your young puppy is receptive to learning rather than in destructo mode.
- Any food can be used – can substitute a meal
- Working parts slide easily so your dog is not tricked but gets reward when he should
- May not be challenging enough, especially for intelligent breeds
- Small pieces are potential choking hazards for large dogs – avoid in dogs over 75 pounds or avoid the questionable pieces.
- Not meant to be used without supervision
- Seems to require a lot of food motivation
This puzzle dog toy uses miniature white plastic bones and small red compartments, although the dogs I have seen use it seemed to have little regard for the colors. Your dog must dislodge the bones or flip open the compartment lids to receive a reward.
The toy is rated level 2 for dogs and requires maneuvering of the pieces with nose and paws. The plastic is fairly durable, but some dogs try to eat the pieces. The pieces come out of place fairly easily.
Therefore, if your dog learns how to flip the entire puzzle over, he will not get much out of the exercise.
The Ottosson can potentially keep dogs entertained long-term if you vary where you put the treats and change up the food choices. I use plain kibble in puzzles one day and the following week might sneak in some freeze-dried liver.
- Engages your dog’s digging urges
- Exercises the mind if you can entice your dog to discriminate between the different pieces
- Great for dogs who bolt their food
- Can be used in training programs rather than on its own – you can play retrieving games or train your dog to stay or wait
- Easy to maneuver for older dogs who may have dental issues
This interactive seek plush dog toy serves multiple potential needs that your pup may have. Many dogs like hide and seek games. This toy will engage your pet in searching for hidden toys within the base tree trunk.
The plush stuffed toys can serve as comfort toys for some puppies and dogs.
What makes this dog toy such an intriguing puzzle is the squeaker, which is a powerful motivator for many dogs. Squeaky toys stimulate a dog’s prey drive, inspiring him to go to great lengths to hunt the source of that noise.
You can interact directly with your dog by playing fetch with the stuffed animals.
- Multiple possible interactions with just one toy
- No small parts except for the indwelling squeaker
- Multiple sizes available for various breeds
- Very affordable
- Moderate durability
- Not enough quality to withstand heavy chewing or ripping including the tree base
- Does turn into small components with torn fabric and if your dog gets to the squeaker
- Some dogs never figure out the point of retrieving the squirrels out of the tree trunk
Reviews of the Best Interactive Treat Dispensing Dog Toys
If you have a dog who enjoys playing ball, you can combine that passion with his love for food. The fact that the Odin treat puzzle dog toy is not a sphere, it gives additional stimulation to your dog.
Odin is a multidimensional toy with a unique shape that allows it to roll and bounce easily but unpredictably. It is made of TPR, or thermoplastic rubber, which is durable but not as loud as other bouncing toys. Furthermore, it is gentle on hardwood floors and delicate furniture.
This puzzle toy is also free of toxins like phthalates and is designed for latex-sensitive people and pets.
Treats or kibble are dispensed through diamond-shaped openings on multiple sides.
- Dogs are enthusiastic about this puzzle toy
- Can fit up to a cup of food inside
- Food is not excessively difficult to extract, so does not foster frustration
- Your dog will get physical and mental exercise
- Not for heavy chewers – large-jawed dogs especially will tear chunks off the toy
- Some kibble falls out too easily – you will have to experiment with sizes and shapes of food
About the size of a tennis ball, this treat-dispenser doubles as a puzzle and an interactive fetch toy.
A smaller ball lies inside the larger one. The smaller sphere is where you place the treats, and when your dog lines the holes up just so, a treat drops out. Purported to increase your dog’s IQ, it can potentially provide hours of fun.
The FurryFido bounces and rolls like a regular ball toy. Underneath is non-toxic and durable, soft rubber, ideal for your dog to pick up, mouth and chew.
- Puzzle dog toy that provides physical exercise
- Ball still entertaining without treats
- Rubber may benefit the teeth
- Reported durable by Pit Bull owners
- When a dog destroys it the material shreds and makes a mess
- Some owners report it is too difficult for their dogs to figure out how to get the treats out
Made out of plastic polymer, the Wobbler is durable and innovative in typical Kong style. It stands upright like a plastic beehive until your dog interacts with it.
The Wobbler’s movements are unlike a ball, sporadic and unexpected. A hole in the side allows for a random treat to be dispensed as your dog rolls the toy about the floor.
Your dog can interact with this treat dispenser in multiple ways. Tossing it in the air, chasing it across the floor, or playing fetch with it. He may even want just to carry it around or chew on it.
- Makes some finicky eaters more interested in their food
- Toy is easy to load with a screw top
- More durable than other similar dispensers to moderate chewing
- Weighted base and misshapen design reduce its tendency to roll under furniture or other hard-to-reach places
- Holds up to a half a cup of food
- Food can fall out too easily – adjust the type of treat, or some people add lemon or apply duct tape across part of the opening
- Heavy for toy dogs – may need training on how to use effectively
It is not a common event for a manufacturer to place a guarantee on a chew toy. Yet the West Paw Tangerine is 100% guaranteed against damage from your dog. They boast a return rate of under 1% and offer one replacement toy or a refund pending proof of damage and purchase.
The Tangerine is constructed of trademarked Zogoflex, which is derived from a thermoplastic elastomer. It is a proprietary plastic, which is durable and elastic.
A Tangerine or Tux has pockets inside for treats, which can take the form of tidbits, kibble, or even yogurt or peanut butter.
This interactive dog toy serves multiple potential purposes. It can be a treat-dispenser, something to fetch, carry, or toss and a puzzle dog toy.
- Exceptionally durable – 100% guaranteed even across toy styles
- Can freeze treats inside
- Pockets for treats too shallow – dogs do not have to work hard enough to get them
Reviews of the Best Interactive Electronic Dog Toys
In this day and age, everything, even fitness, comes on a smartphone app. I know I have an activity counter that conveniently counts my steps when I take my dogs for a jog.
So it should come as no surprise that dogs’ playtime can be monitored with an app and their toys controlled remotely.
You are in good company if you do not like to leave your dog home alone. The Fitness Robot Package is an innovative solution. Your dog can have his very own robot to entertain and exercise him while you are away at work or running errands.
The Robot is designed to interact with your dog. It sparks your pet’s interest with movement and rewards him for playing by dispensing treats. You can schedule and monitor activities and rest times via the phone app.
Made of polycarbonate, the Robot is tough and long-lasting. Its AI capabilities enable it to navigate different surfaces, learn where your dog needs work, and maneuver indoor obstacles while interacting with your pet.
- You can remotely program playtime and rest
- Works on Android and Apple devices
- Water resistant
- Easy to clean
- Has an auto-play option but can also manually control it
- Will analyze your pet’s exercise needs based on environment, health and other factors
- Interest appears variable and sometimes short-lived
- Expensive – especially the case if your dog does end up destroying it
- A few reports that navigation and sensory systems were lacking
This is another electronic interactive dog toy that puts artificial intelligence to the test. Its auto-play feature is programmed on behaviors based on common canine personality types. It has 12 different emotional motivators and nine movements.
You can also control the game manually, like a video game. Virtual joysticks on the phone app allow you to direct the toy in its interactions with your dog.
Covered with polycarbonate on all exterior surfaces, the toy is both soft and strong. The tires are detachable and the cover removable.
- Polycarbonate is FDA food-grade
- Easy to clean
- Stimulating for working dogs
- Durable – can withstand biting and chewing
- On Android and iOS
- Provides physical exercise and mentally interests
- Short battery life
- Tire noise is loud – intimidating for some dogs and potentially distracting if you are home
Does your arm get tired from throwing tennis balls for your Border Collie or Jack Russell Terrier? Or worse, do you get exhausted from your dog’s constant requests to play fetch? iFetch provides an innovative solution.
Once you set the distance, this self launcher propels a ball every time your dog sets it into the top of it. It gives you a break while providing plenty of exercise and mental stimulation for your ball-obsessed furry friend.
- Good form of exercise
- You can still interact with your dog while using the machine
- Sturdy – three pounds, so it is not easy for your dog to lift
- You can store tennis balls in the base
- Two sizes – for small and large dogs
- Does not throw as far if the ball becomes damp from drool
- Requires training and some dogs never learn to drop the ball into the machine
- Supervision is recommended – dogs could over-exercise or injure themselves with the machine
Best Interactive Dog Toys – Buying Guide
Why Do Dogs Need Toys?
Befriending dogs made them safe and well-fed, but it also removed the enrichment they obtained from hunting, braving the bitter elements and fighting for survival.
If we do not fill this void with opportunities for canids to use their physical and intellectual prowess, their boredom can lead to detrimental stress and undesirable behaviors like chewing, digging, barking and aggression.
You may ask, “Well, isn’t my companionship enough?” With the advent of technology and smartphones, your presence in the same room with your dog no longer equates to the engagement he craves.
Dogs require interaction that at times makes them the center of the universe. Ideas are shifting about what pack mentality means to domesticated dogs. Nevertheless, instinctually, they still need to know they have a valued spot in the household.
Toys have always been excellent tools to bring dogs and their owners closer. Even remedial objects like sticks make great instruments to engage your pet. As society becomes more preoccupied, interactive dog toys prove invaluable to provide the intellectual stimulation that your pet craves.
The following is a list of benefits from the puzzle toys and interactive dog toys you may not have considered.
- Slows down your dog’s eating – If your dog bolts his food, treat-dispensers or puzzle dog toys are brilliant ways to get him to eat at a more reasonable pace.
- Simulates hunting behavior – This can assuage a dog’s prey drive and also relieve possible boredom associated with eating.
- Entertains them – If you must crate them.
- Occupies them – If you are home and cannot give him your undivided attention – Sometimes you need to wind down from your day or make a few phone calls. Give your dog something to do in the meantime.
- Can be used as a reward – If your dog starts to anticipate playing with a particular toy, you can bring it out on special occasions as a reward unto itself.
How to Choose the Right Interactive Dog Toy?
Know Your Dog
Customer reviews played a large role in our product selection. With hundreds of reports, no toy is going to satisfy 100% of the dogs it comes across. However, many good-quality toys were downgraded by customers because they were inappropriately used.
Remaining aware of your dog’s personality will go a long way towards ensuring his toy experience is fulfilling and does not end in the toy’s destruction. Also, know your dog’s mood at a particular moment. Asking your husky to solve a complicated puzzle when he just saw your neighbor’s elusive cat by the window is ill-advised.
Recognizing whether your dog is a heavy chewer, whether he eats small objects, and what motivates him is crucial to selecting the right interactive dog toys. Your dog may be extremely intelligent, but if he needs instant gratification, he may not have the patience to solve puzzles.
Some dogs are not all that motivated by food, rendering treat dispensers useless.
Safety Should Be First
Certain breeds and individuals are prone to eat foreign objects. Retrievers sometimes have a mouth fixation and are vulnerable to choking on small objects. Always check toys for small parts and components that can break off or be extracted, i.e. handles and squeakers.
We also checked the list of toys for toxic substances and materials.
Always observe how your pet interacts with a particular toy before you leave him alone with it. Some toys recommend you do not allow your pet to play with them unsupervised under any circumstances.
Never Disregard Your Dog’s Size
Some of this boils down to safety considerations, but it also pertains to how useful the toy will be for your pet. Toys must be appropriately-sized, so your dog can actually accomplish the intended goal with his mouth and paws.
Other considerations are toys for flat-faced dogs like Bulldogs as opposed to long-muzzled breeds such as whippets. Some puzzle dog toys may be impossible for them, while others may present insufficient challenges.
Of the products we reviewed, our top pick was the WickedBone App-Enabled Interactive Toy, although we felt all were great options depending on the situation. We chose an interactive electronic dog toy because of its ability to truly interact with and entertain dogs independently.
Moreover, we liked having a way to control and monitor it remotely. It is durable and safe and can attract the intellectual interest of your dog for hours.
The FidoFurry ball was a close second, but we did not trust a dog not to destroy it if left alone with it for extended periods.