Providing your pooch with interactive dog toys is key to their overall wellness and quality of life. Whether you have an aggressive chewer who needs indestructible dog toys, or a bored dog who needs some puzzle toys to keep them occupied while you’re at work, choosing the best high-quality dog toys can be overwhelming. Understanding why interactive toys are good for dogs will help you pick the right one for your purposes. There are lots of choices on the market, so here’s what we recommend.
Why Are Interactive Toys Good for Dogs?
Interactive dog toys have plentiful benefits for all kinds of pets. Even if your dog seems content to snooze on the couch all day, a puzzle toy or other engaging play item can improve their mental acuity and keep them happy for hours on end. Interactive dog toys are great because they:
- Provide mental stimulation
- Support dental health
- Distract from negative behaviors
- Help with separation stress
Good Toys Provide Mental Stimulation
The first and foremost benefit of an interactive dog toy is that it provides mental stimulation for your dog. Just like any animal, your dog needs to be challenged and engaged on a mental level as well as a physical one. Often, physical play time, such as throwing the ball or playing chase in the yard, covers both the exercise and mental needs of your pooch. But on days when your pet might not get as much playtime with you, an interactive dog toy can provide a sufficient substitute for their daily mental needs.
Good Chew Toys Support Tooth Health and Dental Hygiene
Another significant benefit of dog toys is that they encourage your dog to chew, which supports their overall dental health. Your dog’s dental care is crucial to their quality of life as they age, and the general consensus about dog dental chews is that they improve the strength of your dog’s teeth and help dislodge plaque from their gums. A good chewing toy can also improve the smell of their breath and protect your pet from mouth issues.
Toys Can Distract Dogs from Negative Behaviors
When your dog is engaged with a toy, they are less likely to participate in negative behaviors such as chewing the furniture or your shoes or vocalizing all the time. If your dog is a little crazy, sometimes it’s because they are bored. Providing them with a selection of high-quality, interactive dog toys can reduce their negative behaviors and make your daily life easier.
Interactive Dog Toys Can Help Ease Separation Stress
The comfort of a familiar toy and the distraction of an interactive, engaging game or goal can be a very useful tool in helping your dog manage their separation issues. If your dog tends to behave poorly, panic, or feel unsafe and worried when you’re away, leaving them with an interactive dog toy is a great way to help them cope.
How to Choose a Good Interactive Dog Toy
In order for your pet to experience all the benefits of interactive dog toys, you need to choose a toy that’s right for them. Just because your dog doesn’t immediately take to the first toy you buy doesn’t mean they can’t appreciate the right kind of toy. The toy might be too large or inappropriate for your pet, or perhaps they need some training on how to play with the toy.
Consider Your Pet’s Size & Mouth
Even among dogs of the same breed, there is variation in jaw strength and mouth sizes. These variations will impact the best kind of toy for your dog. Obviously, if a dog can’t get their mouth around a toy, it’s not going to be very interesting for them to play with. Furthermore, if your dog has sensitive teeth, you’ll need to be selective about what kind of toy will work best for them.
Consider Your Pet’s Activity Level
What your pet likes and enjoys when you play together will help you decide what kind of toy they will be most likely to play with on their own. Does your dog prefer a round of fetch or tug-of-war? Do they like to hunt for things around the yard or would they rather do some tricks to earn treats? Think about your dog’s typical play habits when shopping for a dog toy.
Only Use Dog Toys That Are Safe and Appropriate
Safety should be your number one consideration when choosing an interactive dog toy. You want a toy that’s made with dog-safe materials and no toxic chemicals that might make your dog sick. You also want a well-made item that’s appropriate for your dog’s needs. For instance, some toys made for smaller dogs will have components that are a choking hazard for larger dogs.
Experiment and Try New Things
As with any accessory or item for your dog, you’ll want to try a few things to see what works best for your pet’s unique preferences and needs. If you get a toy and your dog doesn’t seem interested, make an effort to show them how to play with it. If they still seem disinterested, don’t be afraid to set that toy aside and try a different type of toy. A dog that loves puzzle toys might not be super interested in an automatic fetch toy. There are plenty of options to choose from, so explore the wide world of toys with your pet!
Best Puzzle Toys for Dogs
If you’ve got a particularly smart, alert breed of dog, you might consider an interactive puzzle toy to keep their mental state sharp during the day while you’re busy. Here are two of our favorite puzzle toys for dogs.
Casino Puzzle Toy
This puzzle toy is great for smart, small dogs with a drive to problem solve. The casino toy requires your pooch to use its paws and nose to twist and turn bones into a certain pattern in order to release a little drawer of treats. Food-motivated dogs especially will enjoy this interactive dog toy. There are even a few difficulty settings, so you can adapt the toy to your dog’s experience and needs. That said, this is a level-three puzzle toy, so it’s intended for dogs that already have a natural instinct towards these kinds of games and challenges.
Hide and Seek Squirrel Toy
For dogs with a natural hunting and stalking instinct, the squeaky, plush Hide-A-Squirrel toy is a great way to engage your pooch and keep them occupied. You hide the squirrels in the holes of the toy, and your dog has a blast sniffing and digging and pulling them out of the tree. The plush material is perfect for puppies or smaller dogs, but not the best for aggressive chewers.
Best Interactive Toys for Dogs Who Hang Outside
If you have a fenced yard, it’s easy to let Fido outside to play or when it’s time to get some work done around the house without a curious pooch underfoot. Since not all interactive dog toys will be appropriate for an outdoor setting, here are our favorite dog toys for outdoor play.
An Automatic Ball Launcher
Got a dog who loves to play fetch? An automatic ball launcher can keep them occupied for hours. The size of this kind of toy is crucial because an automatic launcher with small balls could present a choking hazard for larger dogs. If the launcher has balls that are too large, your pooch won’t be able to fetch them. There are a number of different types of automatic ball launchers available on Amazon, so be sure the one you choose is best suited for your dog.
This tug-of-war toy is great for dogs who like contests of strength and tussling. The tumbo tugger can double as an indoor toy, but your pooch needs plenty of space to play with it, so outdoors is probably best. You’ll likely need to train your dog on how to use the toy because it will be new for them to play tug-of-war without a partner. This is a simple, affordable interactive dog toy that’s easy to adjust for dogs of different sizes.
Indestructible Dog Toys for Aggressive Chewers
Small or large, some dogs will absolutely shred any toy you give them. While it’s great that they have such strong teeth and jaws, this can become an expensive habit. But fear not: there are some interactive, nearly indestructible dog toys that are made for aggressive chewers!
The Kong is one of the most popular toys on the market right now, and for good reason. The Kong is made of heavy-duty rubber that’s nearly impossible for a dog to destroy. It comes in a variety of sizes, so even tiny aggressive chewers can experience the fun and durability of this toy. The round, cone-like shape has a hollow middle that many people fill with toys or peanut butter to keep their food-motivated dogs chewing and licking for hours.
Starkmark Chew Ball
A Starkmark treat dispensing chew ball is perfect for aggressive chewers and dogs who struggle to slow down while eating. These indestructible dog toys, like the Kong, are made to encourage your dog to dig and chew to reach whatever treats you hide inside. As an added bonus, it’s dishwasher-safe and doubles as a fetch toy when you’re home with your dog.
Suction Cup Tug Toy
Like the Tumbo Tugger, a suction cup tug toy can keep your pulling, tussle-prone dog entertained for hours. The suction cup toys are more portable than the Tumbo Tugger and easier to change up the location to give your pooch a different setting for their daily tug-of-war. Suction cup toys can usually withstand up to 200 pounds of force, so they’re great for aggressive chewers, but you’ll need to select the right size for your dog.
Choose a Solid Interactive Dog Toy for Your Needs
Interactive dog toys can dramatically improve your dog’s quality of life. As long as you choose the right toy for your dog’s size and needs, your pooch can benefit greatly from having the mental stimulation of a dog toy while you’re away or busy with other tasks. A good selection of quality dog toys is a win-win for you and Fido!