Dogs are a lot more like humans than we give them credit for, and just like us, they require mental stimulation in order to be happy.
What most pet owners don’t realize is this need for activity applies to their brains and not just their bodies, so equipping your pet with some interactive pet toys is the best way to ensure they get both.
Interactive dog toys come in many shapes and sizes, whether it’s a self feeding dog treat ball or challenging dog toys that get them thinking.
Finding the best interactive dog toys for your pet depends on what they usually respond to and nobody knows them better than you as their owner.
To make the hunt for interactive dog toys easier we’ve rounded up the favorites in a few categories, including feeding and puzzles.
Just one of these toys can make a huge difference for your pet and provide them with some entertainment and stimulation when you can’t be there to play with them.
It’s no secret that an active dog is a happy dog, but that refers to more than just taking them for a walk in the park.
With interactive puppy toys and regular exercise your pooch is bound to be happier and less destructive around the house, so check out this comprehensive buying guide to help give your dog’s mind a workout as well.
All dogs deserve mental stimulation and a happy dog will result in a much easier life for you as their owner as well.
These are our recommendations for the most innovative and best interactive dog toys on the market today, so you can get the perfect fit for your pet and see just how much of a difference it makes to their happiness.
Our Top Picks For The Best Interactive Dog Toys
BEST DOG TREAT BALL
AIBOONDEE Treat Ball Dog Toy
Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball
BEST DOG PUZZLE
Nina Ottosson Dog Puzzle Toy
Nina Ottosson Puzzle Toy For Dogs
BEST FEEDING MAT
PAW5 Feeding Dog Mat
Let's now review each interactive dog toy individually:
Best Overall - AIBOONDEE Treat Ball Dog Toy
If there’s one thing dogs love more than anything, it’s their favorite treat. Dog treat balls are a way to make treat time a challenge for your pet and keep them occupied, and the Aiboondee Treat Ball is our favorite pick. Made from high-quality ABS and PC plastic, this ball is less than 5 inches in height and comes in a range of colors to keep your pet entertained while they try and get to the treat inside.
These toys will provide your pet will hours of entertainment, and customers were impressed at how much time their dog actually spent trying to get the food out.
It’s an egg shape which helps them get a hold of it and people much preferred this to an actual spherical ball that tends to roll away from the dogs easily.
The materials are all non toxic and safe for dogs as well, so you don’t have to be concerned even if they give it a good chew.
Some of the reviewers mentioned the size of this treat all and were shocked to find it fit around a ¾ cup of treats inside.
While this should be adequate for most dogs if you have a larger breed you might want to upgrade otherwise they could easily get through it in minutes and defeat the entire purpose of these types of interactive toys.
The Aiboondee Treat Ball has a maze type damper device that allows the food to come out slowly and a small .8” hole where the treats are dispensed.
It’s easy to clean and can be washed with warm soapy water whenever it needs it, and you can deconstruct the whole thing to get the job done.
This toy is great for mental stimulation and keeping your dog occupied while you’re out, so destructive dogs will definitely benefit.
You can purchase the Aiboondee Treat Ball on Amazon for just under $10 and it’s already become one of their top-rated interactive dog toys.
Shipping is extra depending on where you live, or you could qualify for free postage when you buy three or more at once.
To keep any active dog occupied and give them some mental stimulation at the same time, the Aiboondee Treat Ball is the smartest choice.
Runner-Up - Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball
Moving dog toys are an easy way to keep any pet happy and when you add their favorite food into the mix it’s even better.
Our second choice for the best interactive feeding toy is the Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball, a small ball that you fill with treats or kibble to keep them engaged for hours. This ball comes in either 3” or 4” sizes depending on how much food you want to supply them with and has a colorful design that will hold their attention.
Compared to other treat balls on the market, the Pet Zone IQ Ball was pretty durable and stood up to even the most destructive dogs.
You can adjust the difficulty settings as well so dogs that figure out how to get food faster can be given an extra challenge. This means no need to upgrade to a new toy once they get past the first stage.
This ball can get pretty noisy if you live somewhere the floors are tiled or hardwood, so keep that in mind.
Some people found that because it was a ball and not a tumbler type shape it easily rolled under sofas and other bits of furniture before their dog got a chance to catch up to it.
Unscrewing the ball was also a little difficult so you’re better putting the kibble through the access hole to save time. The hard plastic ball comes apart so you can clean it, but it can be a little tricky to screw back together.
It’s lightweight at around 2.5oz and with a choice of either 3” or 4” you can get one that’s right for your dog. The 3” ball is better suited to small and medium breeds so anything larger than that and you’ll need to upgrade to the next size.
The Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball is a great choice for dogs who are destructive or get bored easily with what’s around the house.
You can purchase the ball on Amazon for a reduced price of around $6 thanks to a current promotion, but will need to pay a little extra for freight.
The Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball is a good choice for a durable and entertaining treat ball with plenty of challenges to work through.
Best Dog Puzzle: Outward Hound Dog Twister Puzzle
If you’re in need of toys for smart dogs and want to give them more of a challenge, the Outward Hound Dog Twister Puzzle is the way to go.
These interactive puzzle dog toys are ideal for pets who need more stimulation and it features nine compartments with nine locking switches to keep your dog busy for hours on end. Measuring around 13.2” and with a bright blue and purple design, it’s great for dogs of all sizes.Customers loved the extra challenge that this twister puzzle provided for their pets and found that dogs who needed something harder were entertained finally with this one.
If you’ve tried other balls and treat dispensers without luck, making the upgrade to this puzzle from Outward Hound should finally do the trick.
You can use it to slow down their eating or just to provide some entertainment, so it’s great for clever dogs who get bored easily.
On the downside though, it is expensive compared to others and this version seems to be an updated model with different handles, unlike the pegs the last one used.
The handles are quite small and can be hard to maneuver so even owners will find it hard to get treats in and out when they’re trying to set it up and teach their dog.
Other notable features of the Outward Hound Dog Twister Puzzle is the BPA, phthalate, and PVC free materials used so you have peace of mind your dog is safe.
Each of the nine compartments can be filled with a little bit of kibble or treats and you can adjust the lockable handles to make it harder or easier for them.
If you want a step up from the traditional treat ball and have a dog that needs a challenge, you can get the Outward Hound Dog Twister Puzzle on Amazon for around $20.
It’s more expensive than others we’ve reviewed but will give is harder to solve, so if you want a dog puzzle that’s going to keep their attention for hours this is the way to go.
Runner-Up: Nina Ottosson Puzzle Toy For Dogs
For a dog puzzle that’s unique to most on the market, the Outward Hound Slide n Hide Dog Puzzle is a great option.
This durable puzzle is made to look like wood and made of composite materials that your dog won’t be able to chew through even after hours of play.
They slide the pieces back and forward to reveal treats underneath and it provides mental stimulation as well as the chance to eat their favorite foods.The best thing about this Slide n Hide Dog Puzzle is that it has no removable parts so you won’t lose anything.
The puzzle is built as a single piece and your dog learns how to slide open treat compartments to get inside, so it’s different from other interactive dog toys.
This toy provides both mental and physical stimulation as well, which gives you two benefits for the price of one.
Some people found their dogs solved this puzzle too quickly and once they knew how to slide the pieces then it no longer presented a challenge.
As a level 2 difficulty toy from this brand it will depend on your dog whether or not it’s right for them, as some dogs could get bored after an hour or so with it.
The Outward Hound Slide n Hide Dog Puzzle is made of a durable composite material that’s free from BPA and PVC so even the toughest chewers won’t be harmed.
There are no extra pieces that might present a choking hazard to your dog and it sets on the floor easily for your pet to enjoy. Made to look like real wood and measuring around 12” it’s a decent size for any breed of dog.
If you want a mid-level challenge for your dog and need something unique from other toys on the market, the Outward Hound Slide n Hide Dog Puzzle is an excellent choice.
You can get these toys from Amazon for just under $20 and a slight extra cost for postage, or invest in two and save yourself the shipping fees. If your pet needs entertainment and mental stimulation in a fun way, this puzzle toy can definitely provide it.
Best Feeding Mat: Paw5 Wooly Feeding Mat
The easiest way to keep any dog entertained is with food, and The Wooly from Paw5 has found a unique way to do just that while also providing mental stimulation.
This is a feeding mat made from sustainably sourced and upcycled materials, giving your pet a soft and fun way to get their food. It measures 12 x 18” and is perfectly sized for any breed of dog who needs some extra stimulation.
According to reviews, Wooly was an incredibly easy dog feeding mat to use and keep clean.
It’s totally machine washable and made of recycled fabrics so it’s good for the environment. You put the food inside and let your dog search and hunt for it through the strands of fabric, providing them with a lot of entertainment and letting them use their natural food sourcing skills.
On the downside, it’s not as durable as some plastic toys we’ve reviewed and you might want to supervise your pet as they use it.
Some customers said their dogs ripped it apart in under half an hour when they weren’t looking, and for a feeding mat that costs as much as this one you don’t really want to be replacing it any time soon.
This problem aside, there are still plenty of great features worth mentioning in this special feeding mat.
Wooly mimics the grass outside so it’s soft enough to lay on when they’re done hunting for food so you’re effectively getting two dog toys in one.
It’s lightweight and portable and can be cleaned in the washing machine and hung out to dry whenever the material starts getting smelly.
For a unique type of feeding mat that lets your dog rely on their natural hunting instincts, the Wooly from Paw5 is one of our top picks.
Amazon sells this feeding mat for around $40 with free postage included, so it’s a little more expensive than most but definitely worth it.
You can feel safe knowing your dogs are chewing and foraging through sustainably sourced and recycled materials, and it’ll keep them busy for ages to alleviate their boredom.
How To Improve Your Dog’s Cognitive Abilities With Interactive Toys
We now know so much about the importance of mental stimulation for humans and a need to exercise your brain in order to improve cognitive abilities.
Research has also shown that animals can benefit from the same type of mental workout, which is why interactive toys have now become such a popular choice for our pets.
In order to keep your dog entertained, you need to find something that will appeal to them. This is why most interactive toys for dogs feature food as a reward.
Experts in the interactive toy market believe that just 15 minutes of this type of mental stimulation is equivalent to 30 minutes of physical activity for dogs, so imagine how helpful it could be to have a few toys ready for them to play with at home.
Dog toys aren’t just good for building their cognitive skills though, as they also prevent boredom. A bored dog is usually a destructive dog and you might find your dog acting out when you’re away because they have nothing to do.
Simply place down their new interactive dog toy before you go somewhere and you’ll find a house with a happy dog and no ripped up shoes or garments when you return.
FAQs About Interactive Dog Toys
Interactive dog toys are the ideal way to keep your pet entertained, stimulated, and happy, and if you’ve never had one for your pet before you might be unsure what it is that they do.
We’ve uncovered some information about these dog toys to help you clue you into what they’re all about.
How Do I Keep My Dog From Getting Bored?
Dogs require constant stimulation to keep them from getting bored and this can be achieved through a range of activities.
Regular exercise with walking, playing with toys, engaging in interactive puzzles, having social time with dogs and people, and a large space for them to play in can prevent your dog from getting bored easily.
What Is An Interactive Dog Toy?
An interactive dog toy is one that provides mental and physical stimulation for them.
They usually feature an element of feeding in order to keep your dog interested and the toys include things like puzzles, rolling balls, and feeding mats that require them to think and work in order to get to the food inside.
What Toys Can You Leave With Your Dog?
Dogs respond differently to toys and depending on your dog’s personality there’s a range of toys you can choose from to keep them occupied.
A good mixture of chewing toys, interactive toys, and social toys will ensure they’re engaged in more ways than one and hopefully prevent them from getting bored and becoming destructive.
Are Puzzle Toys Good For Dogs?
Research is still in early stages about the effects of puzzle toys and interactive toys for dogs, but anecdotal evidence shows that they are great at combating boredom.
A puzzle toy can build on their natural instincts, improve cognitive skills, and give them mental and physical stimulation, so they’re a great choice for dogs of all sizes, breeds, and ages.
How Do You Mentally Stimulate A Dog?
Dogs need to be mentally stimulated in order to be happy and reduce the chance of destructive behaviors caused by boredom.
To help your dog stay mentally stimulated you can be social with them, play games, give them interactive toys, and ensure they are exposed to other dogs when possible.
Keeping Your Dog Mentally and Physically Active
We’ve long known about the importance of physical activity for our dogs and the benefits that something as simple as a 10-minute walk can provide them.
As we learn about that mental activity is just as important for our pets, we’re bound to see a huge boom in the number of interactive dog toys available on the market.
An interactive dog toy comes with so many benefits for your pet, but also you as an owner.
You’ll feel good knowing that your dog is never bored, that you’re helping to keep their mind active, and also reducing their destructive behavior around the home.
Any of these interactive dog toys would be a good place to start if you want to get your dog’s mind working again and provide them with stimulation.
Many dog owners have a variety of toys so that they always have a new challenge to try, but starting with just one will show you effective they can be for both you and your four-legged friend.