Dog toys come in all shapes and sizes, but my favorite — or should I say my dog’s favorite — are the interactive ones.
Interactive dog toys (also called enrichment dog toys) are created to serve a specific purpose and to provide a unique challenge for your dog.
Basically, interactive dog toys have some really unique features to keep your dog’s interest high, including:
- Unusual sounds – like squeakers, sound cards, or crinkled plastic in the tail of a stuffed dog toy
- Unusual movements – like toys that bounce around on their own, have dangling parts, or various textures
- Unusual contents – like dog treats that come out when rolled around or when a puzzle is solved
All of these features are designed to keep your dog’s attention for longer periods of time. In addition, you will ultimately get your money’s worth from a dog toy with these features — because your dog won’t grow bored with it quickly.
Types Of Interactive Dog Toys
Here are some examples of interactive dog toys:
- Treat-dispensing dog toys – for immediate gratification while playing
- Dog toy puzzles – for testing your dog’s memory and recall skills
- Sensory dog toys – for stimulating your dog’s senses (touch, sound, etc.)
- Indestructible dog toys – for the ultimate challenge during extended play time
My dog enjoys all of the above, but I think his all-time favorites are the treat-dispensing ones.
Following are the best interactive toys for dogs, in my opinion…
Top 8 Interactive Dog Toys
When it comes to chew toys, keep in mind that dogs have many preferences for them. Some like them to be interactive or chewable or easily carried, pulled, and tossed around or a combination of 2 or all the above. In any case, it’s can be a challenge for you to get just one chew toy that meets all his preferences. Usually you’ll have to get at least 2 but no more than 4 chew toys to satisfy his ferocious chewing needs. Do replace them as they wear off. — Small Dog Paradise
If I were going to buy my dog his first interactive dog toy, these are the ones I would choose from:
#1 – Orka Chew
I like when a dog toy does more than one thing. This one bounces, has several “arms” to attract attention and gnaw on, and it dispenses treats! It’s made from a durable non-toxic synthetic rubber, and since it’s shaped like a “jack”, it creates a lot of opportunities for natural bounce each time it’s released from your dog’s mouth. Plus, it’s durable enough for serious chewers. There are several varieties of durable Orka dog toys to choose from.
This video shows a few dogs enjoying the Orka Chew interactive dog toy…
Nina Ottosson’s interactive dog puzzles are among the most popular. Of them all, I think Dog Casi
no and Dog Brick are 2 of the best. Like all dog puzzle games, these teach your dog to wait (until told to start), find (things behind the puzzle pieces), and enjoy (the treats as immediate rewards). Other find & seek dog board games like this include: Dog Twister, Dog Spinny, and Dog Treat Maze. Hagen makes a nice dog puzzle: the Dogit Mind Games 3-in-1 Smart Toy. And there are a few interesting interactive dog games & puzzles by Kyjen as well. Although plastic dog puzzles are easier to clean, if you want a long-lasting puzzle set for your dog, opt for a wooden puzzle board like these: Zanies Wood Interactive Puzzles Dog Toy, Nina Ottosson’s Wooden Dog Treat Fighter, and the Ethical Seek-A-Treat Dog Puzzle.
This video shows a dog enjoying the Dog Casino interactive dog puzzle…
#3 – Rag Rope Ball
Another multi-purpose dog toy is one that features a ball and rope combination. My favorite is the Rag Rope Ball by Pet Stages because it’s long-lasting and this one is especially great for puppies. Of course, the rounder the ball, the more it will roll, so this one doesn’t particularly roll much. But that’s also a reason why it’s great for puppies. When your dog drops the Rag Rope Ball from his mouth, it won’t roll far away, but it will land on a different side and present yet another dangling piece of rope for your dog to start chewing on. Likewise, these dangling rope arms provide numerous opportunities for your dog to grab, carry, and toss the toy for added fun. Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be a rope on the other end in order to be a fun interactive dog toy. For example, this Weazel Ball dog toy looks interesting! Another rope and ball dog toy that looks like fun is the Zany Ball Rope Twister — but I can’t find anywhere locally to buy it.
This video shows a dog enjoying the Zany Ball Rope Twister interactive dog toy…
#4 – Kong Toy
Regardless of which type of Kong toy you ultimately choose, they’re all super long lasting and multi-purpose. The rubber Kongs all bounce and roll in unexpected patterns, which piques your dog’s interest. In addition, most of the rubber Kongs can be stuffed with dog treats. For the short, quick treat, you can loosely fill a Kong with dry dog kibble and your dog will be rewarded simply for rolling it across the floor and gobbling up the treats. For longer enjoyment, you can stuff a Kong toy with a combination of food items packed tightly inside. For the ultimate challenge, freeze a stuffed Kong before giving it to your dog. Depending on what you’ve put inside, it could take your dog hours to remove all of the treats inside. This is especially great for relieving boredom when your dog is left home alone!
This video shows a dog enjoying the Kong treat toy for dogs…
#5 – Busy Buddy
This brand of dog toys was designed to redirect your dog’s destructive chewing behavior into positive playtime instead. There are a lot of different styles of Busy Buddy dog toys that provide different chewing experiences. My dog likes the Tug a Jug best. The Premier Busy Buddy Kibble Nibble Dog Toy is our second favorite. But they’re all great because they’re made with your dog’s safety in mind. And due to their shape, they all provide unique bounce patterns which keeps your dog’s attention longer.
This video shows a dog enjoying the Busy Buddy Kibble Nibble interactive dog toy…
#6 – Everlasting Fun Ball
The everlasting fun ball is a round ball that can be filled with dog treats. What makes this treat-dispensing dog toy unique is the fact that the treats are much harder to get out. In addition, it’s a quieter playtime experience than some of the other treat-dispensing dog toys due to the fact that it’s made of a soft, durable material — so you don’t hear it bouncing and rolling on the floor. I wouldn’t say this one is for extreme chewers though. Determined dogs with strong jaws can sometimes pierce through the rubber. There are a few different varieties of Everlasting Fun Balls to choose from, along with uniquely shaped treats for these toys.
This video shows a dog enjoying the Everlasting Fun Ball interactive dog toy…
#7 – Talking Dog Toy
Most dog toys with voices or lights are not super-durable. So, as long as you know ahead of time that your dog is not an extreme chewer, there are 2 talking dog toys that I especially like. They’re both by PetQwerks: the Talking Babble Ball dog toy and the Animal Sounds X-Tire dog toy. Again, they’re not durable enough to survive being crushed by strong and powerful dog jaws. Instead, these interactive dog toys are meant to be gnawed on lightly while your dog becomes entranced by the unusual talking and sounds coming from inside. They’re attention-getters, that’s for sure!
This video shows a dog enjoying the Talking Babble Ball interactive dog toy…
#8 – Buster Cube
My dog’s all-time favorite treat-dispensing dog toy is the Buster Cube. It’s made of a hard plastic, like the IQ Treat Ball dog toy — which is another popular option in this category — but it can’t come apart during play like the IQ Treat Ball. The only downside to the Buster Cube is the fact that it’s slightly noisy as your dog rolls it across the floor and the treats inside roll from side to side. The upsides are plenty: First, you can adjust the challenge level, making it easier or harder for your dog to get the treats out. (Actually, you’re increasing or decreasing the size of the opening that the treats fall out of.) Second, the interior capacity is really large, so you can toss a good amount of dry dog kibble inside and your dog will play for hours. Third, it’s completely indestructible. We have the large size, and there is no way possible for a dog to get its jaws around this thing. Even if he did, the hard plastic is super durable. We’ve had ours for over 15 years and it still works great. My dog loves it!
NOTE: The Buster Cube works best on tile and hardwood flooring. (Another one that’s great for slick floors is the Atomic Treat Ball; reviewed here). If your dog will be playing on carpeted floors mostly, then you’ll want to consider the Kong Wobbler instead. (Here’s a review of the Kong Wobbler.) The next best thing for a treat-dispensing toy like these is the Bob-A-Lot. It wobbles on its own a bit — as you can see here — which reminds your dog to keep interacting with it.
This video shows a dog enjoying the Buster Cube interactive dog toy…
So, there you have it, the best interactive dog toys for your pooch. There are probably several on this list that your dog will love!
More About Interactive Dog Toys
In addition to the links I’ve included above, here are some other resources to help you choose the right interactive dog toys for your pet:
- How To Motivate Your Dog To Play With A New Toy
- Splash Bombs: The Best Soft Dog Toys Ever!
- Best Food-Dispensing Dog Toys
I like to help Dog Parents find unique ways to do things that will save time & money — so I write about "outside the box" Dog Tips and Dog Hacks that most wouldn't think of. I’m a lifelong dog owner — currently have 2 mixed breed Golden Aussies that we found abandoned on the side of the road as puppies. I've always trained my own dogs and help friends train theirs, as well. Professionally, I worked at a vet and have several friends who are veterinarians — whom I consult with regularly. (And just because I love animals so much, I also worked at a Zoo for awhile!) I've been sharing my best ideas with others by blogging full-time since 1998 (the same year that Google started… and before the days of Facebook and YouTube). My daily motivation is to help first-time dog owners be better prepared from the first day your new puppy enters your home. I like to help dog owners understand what's 'normal' and what you can expect in terms of living with and training your dog — how to get through the ups & downs of potty training, chewing, teaching commands, getting your dog to listen, and everything else that takes place during that hectic first year! When I'm not training, walking, grooming, or making homemade treats for my dogs, you will find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites). To date, I've written over 500 articles for dog owners on this site!