While we would all love to spend the entire day playing with our four-legged friend, chances are that just isn’t a reality. And it often doesn’t take long to find out that a bored dog can be a curious one at best, and a destructive one at worst. More than a few of us have come home to chewed up furniture, mangled clothing, or shredded toilet paper because our pooch had to keep herself occupied during the day.
Interactive dog toys can be a huge help if you find yourself in this situation. More than just a standard tennis ball, these toys are designed to be engaging for a longer period of time. By blinking, making sounds, or slowly dispensing treats, interactive toys can keep your pup entertained for hours. These toys can also be an excellent addition to your dog agility equipment.
We reviewed dozens of interactive toys on the market today to aid your search. We researched the major categories of interactive toys including treat dispensing toys, interactive balls, and hide & seek toys as well as features such as material, durability, cost, and ease of use.
Our top interactive dog toy is the ZippyPaws Woodland Friends Burrow. The ZippyPaws will keep your dogs entertained as they try to dig squeaky chipmunks out of a plush log. It works for most breeds and sizes, and it comes in different versions to suit your style.
In This Article
The 5 Top-Rated Interactive Dog Toys
|Best Overall||ZippyPaws Woodland Friends Burrow||4.4|
|Runner Up||West Paws Zogoflex Treat Dispensing Toy||4.4|
|Best Budget Buy||ZippyPaws Sea Buddies Burrow||4.5|
|Best Interactive Treat Puzzle||Kong Wobbler Treat Dispensing Toy||4.3|
|Best Interactive Dog Ball||FurryFido Interactive Ball||4.2|
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Our Top Pick: ZippyPaws Woodland Friends Burrow
The ZippyPaws Woodland Friends Burrow stands out as our top choice due to a number of great features. Your dog will stay entertained for hours trying to dig the squeaky chipmunks out of the large, plush log. The soft toys won’t hurt their teeth and can be enjoyed by smaller pups and older dogs alike.
If your dog loves the ZippyPaws so much that she tears up the little chipmunks, you can order replacements without having to repurchase the entire toy. The little chipmunks can also serve as great standalone toys for your smaller dog or puppy. Some reviewers hide small balls or other toys inside the log, and many have found the ZippyPaws able to withstand even the toughest chewing.
ZippyPaws Woodland Friends Burrow Key Features:
- Large “burrow” can hide three chipmunks
- Three squeaky chipmunks included
- Chipmunks can be purchased separately if they become lost or chewed to pieces
Our Runner Up Pick: West Paws Zogoflex Tux Treat Toy
Treat toys are excellent to keep your dog active and busy for hours. You simply stuff treats inside, and your pup tries to nibble them out. This keeps them focused on the toy and not on your furniture.
The West Paws Zogoflex Tux is perfect for aggressive chewers as the manufacturer guarantees against dog damage. It is made from a durable, non-toxic plastic that is dishwasher safe. It comes in two different sizes to please both small pups and bigger dogs.
You can stuff any small treat inside, and many reviewers have found that you can keep the treats in place with a dab of peanut butter if needed. It can be filled with liquid and frozen as well. The Zogoflex is also a great dog toy on its own — many dogs love to fetch it, chew on it, or retrieve it from the lake since it floats.
Best Budget Pick: ZippyPaws – Sea Buddies Burrow
The ZippyPaws – Sea Buddies Burrow is a great choice if you want to try an interactive toy, but are worried that your pup might destroy it right away. You bury the Sea Buddies inside the plush “coral” and challenge your dog to pull them out. The small Sea Buddies can be purchased separately, perfect if your pooch has lost or chewed up the first batch.
The ZippyPaws Sea Buddies can be crabs, sea horses, or sharks, and each of the toys squeaks to keep your dog entertained. Some reviewers have found that the crabs’ legs can be easy to chew off, however. The soft, high-quality fabric won’t hurt their teeth — so the Sea Buddies Burrow is good for teething pups and grownups alike.
The Sea Buddies Burrow comes in a single size, and the manufacturer recommends it for small and medium-sized dogs. All ZippyPaws products are crafted with hand-selected materials and are evaluated by a test team of four-legged toy lovers before they are sold to the public, so you can rest assured that ZippyPaws is proud of their products.
ZippyPaws Sea Buddies Burrow Key Features:
- Budget-friendly interactive toy
- Differen options include fish, crabs, seahorses, and sharks
- The Sea Buddies can be purchased seperately as a refill
- Good for small and medium-sized dogs
Best Interactive Treat Puzzle: Kong Wobbler Treat Dispensing Toy
The Kong Wobbler Treat Dispensing Toy is excellent if you have a tough chewer on your hands. This no-frills treat toy is made from durable plastic polymer that has been approved as food-safe by the FDA. The Kong is easy to clean by just popping in the dishwasher after your pup has had her fun with it.
The Kong Wobbler may not look fancy, but the unique design is what makes it special. The Kong has a weighted bottom that helps the Wobbler stand straight up. As your dog pushes it around the floor trying to nose out the treats, the Wobbler spins and rolls on its side and occasionally spits out a food morsel. It’s very easy to refill by just twisting off the top — so don’t worry about trying to squeeze treats into small holes like some of the other treat dispensing toys.
The Wobbler can also serve as an alternative to a food bowl which will extend mealtime to keep your dog entertained and exercised. Some reviewers have found that the Wobbler can dispense the treats too easily, however — something to keep in mind if you have a super active dog.
Kong Wobbler Treat Dispensing Toy Key Features:
- Made from a durable plastic polymer
- Easy to refill treats
- Easy to clean
- Small and large sizes for different breeds
Best Interactive Dog Ball
When you are ready for an upgrade from the ripped up tennis ball — check out the FurryFido Interactive Dog Ball. Much like one of the interactive dog toys that we’ve reviewed above, the FurryFido hides treats inside to keep your dog stimulated for hours while she attempts to dig out treats. The hidden treats will eventually slide out as your pooch pushes the ball around with her nose.
The FurryFido is made from durable material and non-toxic rubber — designed to withstand strong chewers. The FurryFido also comes with a 100% lifetime warranty, so let your dogs gnaw away without worry. The FurryFido also bounces to ensure hours of fun, and the soft material is safe for your pup’s teeth and gums.
Many reviewers noted that there is a trick to loading the ball with treats in a way that they don’t immediately fall out, so make sure to check those out if you find that to be an issue.
FurryFido Interactive Dog Ball Key Features:
- Interactive ball that fills with treats
- Made from safe, durable rubber
- Lifetime 100% guarantee
- Bounces, but does not squeak
Who Should Buy an Interactive Dog Toy
Interactive dog toys are good for all dogs, but especially for those that are active and curious. If you find that your pup chews up the pillows, hides your shoes, or terrorizes the cat — an interactive dog toy will help divert that restless energy. Interactive toys keep them stimulated so they will focus on the toy and not on destroying the house.
Some owners use treat toys to spread out their pup’s food intake over a few hours rather than letting them eat the whole meal at once. Interactive toys help with this since it takes a bit of effort to get to the food.
Finally, interactive toys are great for when your pup wants to play and you just don’t have the time or the energy to throw the ball for an hour. Simply load up the treat toy and send your pooch outside (install a collar activated dog door for a seamless pet exit) to keep himself entertained while you foucs on what you need to do.
Important Features to Consider
Ideally, an interactive dog toy should do a few things well. Here are some features to consider when purchasing.
- It should be fun! Yes, the whole point of a toy being interactive is that your dog should enjoy playing with it. Consider your pup’s personality when looking for toys. Does she love to fetch and swim? Then she would probably enjoy a ball that floats. Does your dog chew up your pillows? Then maybe check out one of the plush toys in this review.
- Safe to use. Most, if not all, of these toys are made of non-toxic material, but it doesn’t hurt to do a little more research to make sure once you are ready to purchase. This is especially true if you have a dog that is allergy-prone.
- Durable. You want the toys to last, so make sure to read the reviews for owners that have strong chewers on their hands. If the toy is plastic, then your odds of it lasting are probably higher than if it is made from fabric, but check the reviews to be sure. Some of these toys also feature a 100% money-back guarantee — just make sure to note the expiration date.
- Size appropriate. Not all toys are created equal for all dogs. Make sure that if you are buying a ball, for instance, that it is not too big for your Chihuahua or too small for your Great Dane. Read the reviews if the product description is lacking in size detail.
- Easy to use. Some of the treat toys require a bit of coordination and a steady hand when loading them up with treats. You don’t want this to be too difficult, but if it’s too easy then the treats might just fall out right away.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are interactive dog toys, and how do they work?
Interactive dog toys are designed to stimulate your dog and keep them focused on productive play. The goal is to channel their energy and curiosity towards the toy and not towards being destructive. The interactive toys keep your dog occupied for longer than a regular toy, thus using any excess energy or allowing you to focus on something else.
These toys come in different shapes and designs. Some require your dog to “work” at trying to get a prize from the toy, while some blink, “talk”, vibrate, etc. Many involve stuffing treats or squeaky toys inside of a larger chew toy or ball, and then your dog rolls or chews to dig out the food rewards.
Do dogs need mental stimulation?
While some dogs may need more than others, the short answer is that your dog needs mental and physical stimulation. You will quickly find out if your dog is bored. Dogs that don’t have an activity to occupy their time will come up with ways on their own — oftenttimes destructive behaviors like chewing, barking (here are bark collars that work), digging, and howling. If you see these behaviors, then chances are your dog needs some exercise and mental stimulation. Good news is that many of the interactive treat toys provide both!
Furthermore, you should also note that the more intelligent and active breeds will require more stimulation. While dogs like shepherds and retrievers are bred to be helpful and are super-smart, they will be unhappy and destructive if they feel ignored. A bored dog is an unhappy one.
How can I keep my dog entertained while I’m at work?
Interactive dog toys are an excellent way to keep your dogs entertained while you are out, but they are definitely not the only way. Here are a few tips to help keep your dog entertained.
- Open the blinds — allowing your dog to watch the neighbors, birds, and cats outside will keep them occupied while you are working. Even better if you have multiple windows.
- Turn on the TV — this is a great option if your pup enjoys watching TV. There’s even a Dog TV channel!
- Adopt a second pet — certainly not for everyone, but if you have the budget and resources to adopt another pet, this can be a way to keep both of them busy during the day.
- Hire a dog walker — although you may have to rely on neighbors in some of the suburban and rural areas, most metropolitan districts have dog walkers for hire that can take your pooch out in the middle of a busy workday. This service is also great when you are out of town.
- Check out our article on how to make your apartment dog-friendly
How many hours per day does a dog need exercise and mental stimulation?
Just like their owners, dogs need plenty of mental and physical exercise to stay happy and healthy. While the amount of exercise will vary based on your pup’s age and breed, you can start with a baseline of 30 minutes to 2 hours of activity every day. Always check with your Vet to get precise guidelines for your pooch.
For working breeds like collies, retrievers, and shepherds, you should expect 30 minutes of vigorous exercise like fetching or swimming in addition to regular walks. While this can be dialed back for dogs that are older, have excess weight, or other health conditions that slow them down, keeping your dog active means a healthy and happy pup.
The amount of mental stimulation a dog needs is more difficult to quantify, but suffice to say that your pup needs some mental activity every day. If you have a smarter (i.e. more obedient) breed, then they need more. An interactive dog toy while you are at work and obedience training when you get home is a great place to start.
Other Interactive Dog Toys We Reviewed
We reviewed 20 other interactive dog toys to help you in your product search. Even though they didn’t make the top 5, they are still great options. The information you need to help you in your comparisons is included.
Interactive Treat Puzzles
Options for the Milk Bone treat toy are either a treat dispensing ball or a bone-shaped tumbler. Both come in two different sizes and are designed to work specifically with Milk Bone treats.
- Choose between a dispensing ball or tumbler design
- Made to work with Milk Bone treats
- Two sizes for each product
- Best for small and medium sized dogs
This treat hiding toy is an intermediate difficulty game in which your pup has to slide the cups and rotate the flaps to find the prize. With seven flaps and cups, this one should take a while for her to dig out all of the treats.
- Hide n’ slide toy
- Intermediate level difficulty
- Made from non-toxic plastic
- Seven treat compartments
- No removable parts for safer play
The IQ Treat Ball comes with adjustable difficulty levels to keep your pup challenged as he learns. The ball twists apart for easy loading and cleaning, and it’s ideal for small and medium-sized dogs.
- Comes in two sizes
- Durable non-toxic plastic material
- Twist off top
- Clean with soap and water
This puzzle features blocks that flip, slide, and pop to provide three different ways to challenge your pooch. While the puzzle features 20 treat compartments, some reviewers have found that smarter dogs can figure this one out fairly quickly.
- Plastic material
- Hand wash with soap and water
- 20 treat compartments
- 3 ways to play: flip, slide, and remove toy blocks
- Non-slip base
The Pelay features “teeth” on the ball that you can stuff treats through. About the size of a tennis ball, your dog will remain busy trying to chew out the treats. Some reviewers have noted a strong odor out of the box, however.
- Easy to use
- Non-toxic rubber material
- Mint odor
- Clean with soap and water
The Pet Zone IQ ball is easy to fill with treats, and has adjustable difficulty levels to allow you to find the perfect challenge for your pup. The ball comes in two sizes and is good for small and medium-sized dogs.
- Fits most small treats and kibble
- Adjustable difficulty levels
- Made from hard plastic
- Twist apart for cleaning
A great feature of the Orbee-Tuff Snoop is how easy it is to use. You just pull out the toy’s neck, fill the inside with treats, and then pop the neck back in. If your dog figures this one out too quickly, you can put a small ball in the middle to increase the challenge.
- 100% Guaranteed
- Made in the USA
- Non-toxic FDA approved plastic
- Infused with natural mint oil
- Dishwasher safe
The SNiFFiz mat is great for when you need something more than a small ball or toy. The Snuffle Mat has five treat toys to keep your dog occupied for hours, as well as multiple other areas to hide treats.
- 32″ diameter mat
- Multiple areas to hide treats
- Anti-slip fabric
- Machine-washable polyester
- Some reviewers have found that their tough chewers can shred this mat
- Manufacturer does not recommend leaving your pup unsupervised when using this toy
One feature that sets the StarMark apart is it’s adjustable treat openings. This allows you to control the difficulty your dog will have sniffing out the prize. This one is not designed for strong chewers, however.
- Tested for safety
- Made from plastic
- Can buy a 2-pack
- Comes in small and large sizes
- Dual chambers dispense treats and kibble
Trixie has designed a line of six treat dispensing toys with three levels of difficulty. Each of the toys requires different methods to coax out the treats, so be sure to read the reviews for each to help decide which will work best for your pooch.
- Six different toys sold separately
- Three levels of difficulty
- Plastic material
- Clean with soap and water
The Wangou is designed for small and medium-sized dogs. You simply fill the ball with small treats, and your dog rolls the ball until they eventually roll out.
- For small and medium-sized dogs
- Comes in blue or pink
- Made from non-toxic plastic
- For treats 0.5″ or smaller
This interactive treat toy is unique in that it is shaped more like a bone than a ball, which makes it fun for your pup to chew even with no treats stuffed inside. It’s designed with very durable FDA-approved plastic.
- 100% guaranteed against dog damage
- Comes in three different colors and two sizes
- Made in the USA
- Dishwasher safe
Hide and Seek Toys
This durable plush toy comes in variations including pandas, chickens, dinosaurs, rabbits, squirrels, and bees. All involve hiding the small squeaky animals inside the larger toy for your pup to wiggle out.
- Made from durable plush material
- Not for tough chewers
- Best for small and medium-sized dogs
- Can buy replacement animals separately
This hide and seek toy comes with three squeaky bees that you hide in the larger plush hive. The bee hive can also be filled with treats or other toys, and it comes in different variations and sizes.
- Made from plush fabric
- Comes with three bees that squeak
- Other versions include squirrels, birds, hedgehogs, and rainbows
- Four sizes to choose from
Interactive Balls for Dogs
The giggle ball features internal tubes that make “giggle” noises when rolled or shaken. The ball does not use batteries, and it is designed with six clutch pockets so your dog can pick it up easily.
- No batteries needed
- Six areas make it easy for your dog to carry
- Internal tubes that make giggle noises when moved
- Non-toxic vinyl material
- Some reviewers have found that their bigger dogs can quickly tear these up
This motion-activated ball flashes and makes 18 different sounds, which is fun for dogs that are blind or have separation anxiety. The ball is made from durable plastic and comes with replaceable batteries.
- Motion activated
- Flashes and makes 18 different sounds
- Durable plastic material
- Not for aggressive chewers
- Clean with a damp cloth
- Replaceable batteries last 4-6 months on average
- Three different sizes
The Talking Babble Ball is a budget-friendly interactive ball that makes twenty different noises when moved. Interactive balls are good for dogs that are overeaters and you don’t want to encourage them with treat toys.
- Twenty different sounds
- Comes with replaceable batteries that should last 4-6 months
- Three sizes
- Not for agressive chewers
This interactive ball shakes, barks, and rolls unpredictably. It is machine washable, and it comes included with three AAA batteries. Some dogs can accidentally turn the ball off when they pick it up, however.
- Machine washable cover
- Three AAA batteries included
- Vibrates and rolls unpredictably
- Will need a small screwdriver to install the batteries
Other Interactive Dog Toys
The Hyper Pet is a plush tail that barks, wiggles, and vibrates to stimulate your pooch. It is activated when you roll or throw the toy, and it will continue vibrating for about 10 seconds. You will need a set of small screwdrivers to install the batteries.
- plastic ball covered with a plush tail cover
- vibrates and wiggles when tossed
- Requires three AAA batteries that are not included
- Cover is replaceable
- Not for bigger dogs or tough chewers
The Pupper Pamper requires your furry friend to turn the hanging food canisters until her treats are dispensed. It was designed with multiple sizes and breeds in mind, so this one toy that might work for the bigger dogs.
- Made from durable non-toxic material
- Two different height settings
- Good for medium and larger breeds
- 100% customer satisfaction guarantee