The Best Interactive Dog Toys in 2024
Modern day dogs need to play with toys for the same reasons that modern day humans need to go to the gym. Our lifestyles of convenience lack the physical and mental struggles that made our ancestors strong. When your dog doesn’t have exercise and mental stimuli in its life, it can become bored and unhappy.
Interactive dog toys recreate some of the fun challenges that dogs used to live for when they spent most of their days hunting outdoors. If your dog is a vermin-hunting breed, for example, its brain is hardwired to dig for small creatures. A toy that allows your dog to demonstrate its breed-specific talents will keep your dog happy and content.
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Getting your dog a chew toy might keep him away from your shoes, but it’s not a good long-term solution to boredom. This toy lets your dog have fun with squeaky chew toys while problem solving at the same time. Watch your dog spend hours digging these plush creatures out of their tree trunk, or teach him to retrieve them around the house and stuff them back in.
This toy is available in four different sizes so that you can select the perfect fit for your breed. You can also choose from squirrel, bird, bee or hedgehog, depending on what little creature you think would really get your dog’s attention.
- Available in four different sizes.
- Plush toys squeak for extra fun.
- The attached trunk top makes the game more challenging.
- Hide and seek challenges dog’s brain.
- Four different plush animal types.
Dogs used to be by our sides hunting and foraging for everything they ate. Now, we just pour their food into a bowl, and the thrill of the hunt is gone. The Wooly Snuffle Mat lets dogs express some of those foraging instincts that are still alive in them. Just sprinkle your dog’s kibble onto the textured mat, and your dog can have a mealtime that fills her belly and stimulates her brain.
The Wooly Mat can be used with any breed of dog of any size or age. All dogs have a keen sense of smell and love the process of foraging for their food. This toy is also machine-washable, so it’s super easy to clean.
- Engages your dog’s sense of smell and foraging instincts.
- Sustainably produced with recycled materials.
- Machine washable.
- Can be enjoyed by any breed, age or size of dog.
I know my dog would be happy if I could play fetch with him for eight hours straight. The problem is, most people have to work at some point, and a dog needs more play time than people can give it. This interactive ball solves that problem by providing dogs with hours of ball fun complimented by kooky human-sounding laughter.
When dogs move this ball around, tubes inside of it emit strange laughing noises that dogs find very interesting. There are also clutch pockets built onto the ball so that dogs of all sizes can easily grip the ball with their paws and teeth. Your dog can roll or shake the ball, and either way the sounds don’t stop.
- No batteries required.
- Dogs love the noises.
- Clutch pockets specially designed for dogs to carry the ball.
- Outdoor or indoor fun.
This toy provides a fun interactive puzzle for dogs to solve while they are looking for a treat. The weighted bottom allows the toy to wobble while a hole on the side dispenses a treat only when the toy is tipped at a certain angle. Watch your dog’s delight when he finally discovers how to get the treat out.
If you want to provide even more mental stimuli for your dog, you could feed an entire meal with this toy. The large chamber can fit a dog’s full sized meal. The opening can also be adjusted to set the level of difficulty for the game. Choose from small or large size, depending on your dog’s size and the size of their kibble.
- Provides fun challenge for bored dogs.
- Available in two different sizes.
- Difficulty level can be adjusted.
- Satisfies a dog’s foraging instinct.
ZippyPaws has made a hide-and-seek dog toy that’s as visually stimulating as it is mentally engaging. Whether you choose the monkeys in the banana, the pandas in the bamboo or the meerkat den, dogs love the bright colors of these toys. To top off the fun, each plush animal makes a loud squeak when your dog finds it with his teeth.
This toy has been designed for small and medium-sized dogs, and you’ll find that the toys are the perfect size for these dogs’ mouths. Each plush animal is quality-made and won’t come apart with lots of playing and biting. To make the game more challenging for dogs, the holes are placed next to each other rather than on opposite sides.
- Available in three fun designs.
- Made for small and medium-sized dogs.
- Loud squeakers inside every plush animal.
- Provides mental stimulus for bored dogs.
This toy has been on the market for 15 years, so there’s no question that pets love it. Invented by a pet owner for his own pet, the Pet Qwerks ball is designed so that dogs can get exercise while having fun. The talking ball works with motion activation and makes 20 funny phrases and noises that really make dogs curious.
You don’t have to worry about this ball eating up batteries, as it uses energy at the same rate as a quartz watch. Dogs that play with the ball all day long can enjoy the sounds for about 4-6 months before the battery needs to be changed. The motion sensor inside the ball can be triggered by a pet walking past it or breathing on it, so even the tiniest of dogs can have fun.
- Available in three sizes.
- No treats required, just good healthy fun and exercise.
- Goes into sleep mode to save battery life.
- Dogs love the fun phrases.
Does your dog love to catch rodents? Many dogs do. This toy was designed to challenge your dog’s brain and satisfy their natural hunting instinct. The interactive dog puzzle has a hole on the top and on the side. Three plush woodland creatures are included for digging out, burying back inside and chewing. The chew toys make a delightful squeak that dogs won’t be able to resist.
This toy is mostly suited for small dogs, as large breeds that are big chewers will need something bigger. Little dogs are so cute when interacting with this toy, and you may find that your dog uses the trunk as a pillow when they get sleepy. You can choose from chipmunks or hedgehogs, and there are refill packs of animals for when they get lost.
- Dogs love the cognitive challenge.
- Delightful squeak keep dogs engaged.
- Plush trunk can be used as a dog pillow at bedtime.
- Refill packs available.
Verdict & Review
Outward Hound Hide & Seek Dog Toy
Hide-and-seek dog toys are available in so many versions because dogs love them so much. After trying out a lot of toys with my dogs over the years, I have to say that the best interactive dog toy is the Outward Hound puzzle toy. It’s simply the most well-designed and durable of all of the hide-and-seek dog toys.
Because this toy is not a treat dispenser, it can be played with all day, so you really get your money’s worth. I love that this toy is available in so many sizes to fit different breeds, and the extra-large size comes with six plush animals. The top on the plush trunk really makes this a challenge that your dog won’t get bored with.
Buying toys for your dog is one of the most fun parts of dog ownership, but it can also be very important. When a dog doesn’t have its own toys to play with, it will find things around the house that look great for chewing. If you don’t want to lose another sock or pair of shoes to your dog’s chewing instincts, then keep reading about how to select the best toys.
Toys Satisfy Foraging & Hunting Instincts
The best dog toys don’t just squeak; they inspire a dog to move around and problem solve. Interactive toys that encourage a dog to use its natural foraging and hunting instincts will keep your dog’s inner wolf satisfied. Look for toys that encourage your dog to dig things out of holes, pick things up and solve some sort of puzzle.
Many of our favorite dog breeds like Yorkshire terriers and dachshunds were bred to be vermin hunters. These smaller breeds are often kept indoors where they are unable to hunt for rats and mice like their forefathers. You’ll make your little dog so happy if you give it a hide-and-seek dog toy so that it can “hunt” for squirrels all day.
Benefits & Drawbacks of Treat Dispensers
Another type of dog toy that is very popular with all breeds is the treat dispenser. These puzzles will pop a treat or piece of kibble out only when your dog solves the puzzle. Pet owners love these toys because they show off their dog’s intelligence, and dogs love them because they provide a mental stimulus at feeding time.
One drawback of a treat dispensing toy is that it can’t be played with all day long. If you have a dog with a bit of a weight problem, getting him hooked on a treat dispenser for interactive play is probably not the best idea. Exercise and fun don’t have to involve treats, so treat dispensers should be used sparingly.
Toys Encourage Dogs to Exercise
A key benefit of any toy is the exercise that it provides. Even old dogs that like to spend a lot of time laying around can benefit from a toy that encourages them to get up on their feet and play. Young, energetic dogs can burn off a lot of energy playing with a toy even when they have to stay inside.
Some of the best toys for exercise are balls, and now dogs have a variety of balls that have been specifically designed for them. Carefully designed clutch pockets let your dog grip on for easy carrying so that they can play by themselves even when you’re too busy for fetch.
Dogs Love Talking Toys
Dogs love toys that make noises and talk to them when chewed, rolled or dropped. It could be because dogs have been human companions for so many centuries and they just love the sound of a person’s voice. Whatever it is, you’ll find that dogs are more engaged with toys that deliver some sort of reward in the form of a funny phrase, noise or squeak.
Toys Provide Fun For Dogs Staying Home Alone
We all want to skip work and just play with our dogs, but unfortunately, we have to go earn a living in this modern world. When dogs are left home alone, the right toys can keep them from getting too bored and lonely when there’s no one to play with. Even cheap toys help. Interactive toys help you make sure that you’re coming home to a happier dog and a cleaner apartment each day.
Consider the Size of Your Dog
When shopping for toys, you’ll have to consider the size and personality of your dog. If your dog is a big chewer, make sure to select toys that are durable enough for your dog’s teeth. Small dogs without a lot of strength will need toys that aren’t too big for them to move around and have fun with. Luckily, dog toy makers understand these considerations and usually offer toys in multiple sizes.
We are the Pet Dog Pals, a group of avid pet owners, bloggers, product testers, and writers for all your canine needs! We own a collective 16 dogs and 21 cats to help us test and review pet products. Our top lists and tips come from experience to help you be the best dog owner you can be!