This is our review of the best interactive dog toys in 2022.
It’s pretty safe to say that dog toy products come in all shapes, sizes. Chew toys or a dog puzzle toy are crucial in keeping your dog stimulated and happy! After all, while your pup may take pleasure in simpler things than most people might, that doesn’t mean they don’t get bored or listless.
It’s easy to think that a dog can be left to its own devices and make its own fun. However, this is often a pretty dangerous route to take and I speak from experience.
What’s more, the right dog puzzle toy could help your pet to feel a bit more secure in themselves. Some dogs – from a pup or as they get older – can struggle to adjust to being on their own, especially if you need to leave them for several hours at a time.
Therefore, if you are finding that your dogs need to keep themselves busy – in a non-destructive way – while you are out and about, it might be worth looking for the top-rated interactive dog puzzle toy options on the market right now.
Our favourite is the Nina Ottosson Twister Dog Toy.
This level 3 dog puzzle toy offers plenty of mental stimualtion and has no removable parts for Fido to choke on. The difficulty level might be a bit much for some pups but it can definitely keep your dog entertained for a good while.
The products we are going to review in this guide will include:
- Nina Ottosson Twister Dog Toy
- Starmark Bob-a-Lot Interactive Dog Toy, Large
- LAMTWEK Pet Snuffle Feeding Mat
- Nina Ottosson Dog Brick Interactive Puzzle
- PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher Dog Toy
X XBEN Dog Puzzle Feeder Toys, Interactive Dog Treat Toy
Our Best Interactive Dog Toy Reviews
From the Varram pet fitness robot to puzzles and ball launchers, smarter dog toys offer lots of great ways to help keep your dog busy and mentally stimulated. Even if it is just a case of lining up a few treats or a puzzle or two, this could really fascinate your pet for hours at a time!
The best puzzle toy options that dogs love, are designed and built for use and fun across long periods. If you can’t be around to stimulate them, then the next best thing is to invest in a great smart dog toy to help keep them happy.
If it’s your first time taking a close look at puzzle toys for dogs, don’t worry. I’ve set up a full buying guide for you below to help you check for the best features and facilities on offer. I’ve also taken a close look at some of the best interactive toy choices dogs love – which is all fantastically reviewed and have our dogs’ paws of approval. That’s all that matters!
Without further ado, here is my list of the top picks online right now. Take a look through and compare what other dog owners have to say, too!
This superb hide and seek toy is a ‘level 3’ interactive option in the Nina Ottosson line, but that really shouldn’t be a problem for a hungry pup in search of kibble or treats. Your pet simply needs to work out the puzzle and pull the individual drawers out of the toy to uncover tasty treats hidden within.
This is a colourful, pleasing little treat dispensing dog toy, which I think is a great choice for those dogs and owners who have already worked their way through a couple of starter options. This puzzle keeps a clever dog occupied and is a good competitor against the likes of the best of Mad Scientist and Outward Hound, too!
- May not be the best choice for a dog who is new to an interactive toy
Dogs are full of energy, and if they aren’t given an outlet for that energy, they can quickly become bored – and boredom can lead to destructive behaviour. That’s where the Starmark Bob-A-Lot comes in.
This interactive dog toy is perfect for large dogs who need a little extra stimulation. The Bob-A-Lot wobbles and moves across the floor as your dog plays, dispensing treats or kibble along the way. The adjustable openings mean you can customize the difficulty to match your dog’s skill level and the rate which the treats are realeased, and the durable construction means it can stand up to even the most enthusiastic pup playtime.
So if you’re looking for a way to keep your dog’s mind engaged, alleviate boredom or stop them gulping their morning kibble the Starmark Bob-A-Lot is the perfect solution.
- Fantastic reviews
- Adjustable for various puzzle skill levels
- Works well as a slow feeder
- May not be great for heavy chewers
This fantastic snuffle mat will keep your pooch entertained for hours; just hide some of your dog’s favourite treats and watch them develop their foraging skills making it a fantastic slow feeder.
The thick pile keeps food hidden and Fido will need to use his nose to seek the treats out. Suitable for indoor and outdoor play use, this is a great toy for blind dogs, large dogs, and something different from a tennis ball.
Made from non-toxic, odourless material, this interactive dog toy will keep your dog’s mind occupied while encouraging your pets natural instinct for sniffing out food and treats. We think it’s one of the best puzzle toy options to keep a pup entertained just be sure to use healthy treats so your pets don’t pile on the pounds.
- Not many we could find
If your furry friend loves to play the game of hide and seek with you, then they are likely to be the sort of dog that really goes wild for these types of toy.
This interactive toy range allows you to sneak little creatures and critters inside a soft base, which your pet will then need to hunt out and retrieve. These are really nice and soft, ideal for a gentler pet.
There are two puzzle options to keep your pup busy – alien or bear – and both are likely to appeal to any pets which normally carry a soft toy around. Therefore, if your canine friend is likely to respond better to soft plushness than tough chewy toys or a ball, this is going to be a fantastic choice.
- Not a dog toy for tough chewers
One of the best treat toy products for dogs. A ‘level two’ option in the Nina Ottosson range, this plastic puzzle encourages your dog to either pick up and remove plastic bones from the middle to retrieve a tasty treat, slide along boxes to uncover treasure, or open up chests to find even more goodies.
It’s a brilliant three in one puzzle toy which, if they’ve solved the kong wobbler treat dispenser, should be pretty easy to work out and enjoy. This game will keep dogs interested for ages and improve their problem-solving skills a bit better than a ball or rope toy.
- Can be a hassle to tidy up afterwards
Get ready for the easiest game of fetch ever; with this Petsafe ball launcher, your canine friend will get both mental and physical stimulation. Water-resistant you can play outside with the battery or with the corded power supply indoors and unlike most of our other options in this list it doesn’t involve food.
There are nine different distance settings from 2.5 metres right up to 9 metres and an automatic downtime mode to ensure Fido doesn’t tire himself out. Ideal for an active dog, this automatic dog ball launcher means you can play fetch anytime.
- May be a bit pricey as interactive toys go, but we think it’s well worth it. for the hours of fun it provides
As any dog owner knows, mealtime can be a chaotic affair. Dogs are eager to scarf down their food and treats as quickly as possible, which can lead to problems like choking and bloat. That’s why something like the Dog Puzzle Slow Feeder Toy could be the answer to your prayers.
This fantastic educational toy helps to slow down your dog’s eating habits, promoting better food digestion and even helping to prevent bloat. The base is a solid piece of bamboo, and food can be loaded into the plastic bottles which your pet will need to tip to release kibble.
There’s also a licky mat included which can be used with treats or food as part of the puzzle toy or on its own at bathtime or whenever your dog needs a distraction.
The best part is that the height is adjustable, making it suitable for most dog breeds. So if you’re looking for a way to help your dog slow down at mealtimes, the dog puzzle slow feeder toy is the perfect solution.
- Ideal for breeds susceptible to bloat
- Makes your pet work for their treats and food
- Larger dogs may knock it over
What are Interactive & Automatic Dog Toys?
The clue is in the name – An interactive dog toy is one which gives your dog that bit more mental stimulation than a chew toy. They, for example, might have great treats inside, that dogs can hunt out and enjoy. These might include puzzle toys, too, which your pet can work out using their paws and noses, as well as their teeth, keeping your dog entertained for hours.
Treat dispensing toys for dogs tend to be amongst the most popular with pets and owners alike. That’s because this type of dog toy tend to need very little encouragement for use! Once you show a dog a couple of times how to use a toy to get the treats, they’ll get the hang of it every time from there on out. Dogs are deceptively clever, no matter how daft your own dog might be from time to time!
The most interactive playthings essentially encourage your pet to play independently to discover treats through hide and seek puzzles. The best interactive toy for your dog may not be the best for another. Some like plush puzzle toys, others like a treat ball. It’s safe to say that all dogs learn at their own pace and anything that keeps your dog busy while you nip to the shops is a bonus.
Why Buy Intelligent Dog Toys?
These brain teaser dog toys might be new to you, After all, most of us probably think of a dog toy and just assume a squeaky bone or a ball you can throw about will be enough!
However, there is more than one way you can keep a pup happy, perhaps tension toys if your pooch loves a game of tug of war or even a pet fitness robot with remote control and app so you can keep your dogs busy when you’re not there.
Here are a few reasons why these treat toys and pet puzzle games might be a good idea for you and your dogs.
You’re Out a Lot
If you need to leave your dog alone for long periods, they are naturally going to miss you! Therefore, why not treat them to a playset or puzzle toy that they can explore while you’re away.
All kinds of dogs experience loneliness and anxiety, and if you really want to show them that they are going to be ok while you are out, you should ensure that you have something fun to act as a distraction. Hide and seek toys may be the answer
You Only Have One Dog
If you do have a solo dog and they are likely to get lonely or listless, a fun interactive toy such as a treat ball is a godsend. If you’re going to be out, why not set up a hide and seek games, hide treats, and have a couple of fun squeaky or rattling puzzles to help keep their interest.
A bored and listless dog is not a happy pooch and as a responsible dog owner, you should be doing all you can to cheer them up! A simple solution is a treat-dispensing toy or interactive game.
Your Dog is Destructive
Yes, unfortunately, many of us have dogs who – while we love them dearly – have a habit of destroying toys when they get bored. This is especially the case for dogs who need lots of exercise and puppies, A bored or listless dog can be a destructive dog, which means that it’s well worth a smart toy that dispenses treats to help take their full attention away. Interactive puppy toys can also help with a pup’s chewing.
This isn’t always a guarantee, of course, which is why you should always try and train your dog accordingly to stop the dog chewing pieces of furniture while you are out.
However, you can easily incorporate interactive systems into your training regimen and routine. An interactive toy will be a great distraction from the usual carpet edges, cushions and sofas.
An Interactive Toy Provides your Dog with Mental Stimulation
Did you know that mental stimulation tires out your pooch almost as much as physical exercise? It isn’t always possible to give your dog long walks, older dogs, ones with heart murmurs or hip dysplasia even puppies with their endless energy and that’s where an interactive dog toy comes into its own. Many people will buy interactive dog toys purely, so they have something to do when left alone. However, they’re also great fun when fully supervised too!
If you really want to train your dog’s brain, there are some seriously great toy picks out there such as an IQ treat ball which will encourage them to solve problems resulting in tasty treats. There are also interactive puppy toys that help brain development.
As your dog ages, they may not be able to run and play like they used to. Providing them with a dog puzzle toy gives them a way to get rid of energy without impacting on their stiff joints and can also be a terrific way to occuy them when they are recovering from surgery or injury.
What Should I Look for In Smart Toys for Dogs?
As there are many different types of interactive dog toy out there, it can be easy to find things more than a little confusing. Some big brands we know like Kong and Nina Ottoson are renowned for their toys and have fantastic reviews, but they can be quite pricey.
You can pick up an IQ treat ball for under a tenner, but check out the reviews to see if it’s durable and suitable for your pet. The more complex puzzle toys are anywhere from around £15-£50 and the top of the range ball launchers and robotic toys can top £100. There are no regulations for dog toys in the UK, so it’s unfortunately down to the owner to ensure its safe
Types of Fun
There are dozens of interactive dog toys, the simple way to choose one is to know your dog. What do they like to do, does Fido love a game of tug of war, in which case they might appreciate a tension toy, are they motivated by food? then a treat dispenser or pet licky mat could be the answer.
Is your dog creative with its paws? Are they likely to bat things down or out of the way to try and solve a puzzle? Dogs love to play hide and seek, and you want to find a toy or toys which can replicate this experience for them to enjoy on their own.
It’s maybe a bit harsh to judge dogs by their ‘skill’ levels as far as working out puzzles are concerned, but you will often find that dog toys – interactive or otherwise – are graded in certain ways. This means that, say, a ‘level one’ toy in one range is likely to be pretty simple. If you find that your pup graduates from this toy pretty easily, and can suss out how to get the kibble or treats within minutes, then it might be worth looking one level up.
However, speaking of the word pup – do also consider the age of your dog. A pup is unlikely to have much of an attention span for the more complicated interactive toys, but that doesn’t mean they can’t use them. In fact, there are a few pup-friendly interactive toy ranges out there that are designed and built to help growing minds and curiosities.
Start them early enough, of course, and you’ll be setting them on a path to being seriously smart – why not take a look at graduating them up the levels?
Durability and Safety
You should always look carefully for interactive dog toys which are built to be safe for dogs to use and enjoy. This means that you need to ensure they are made with safe plastics, and that they are unlikely to damage easily.
The best interactive pet toys are those which will take some serious gnawing. Sadly, there are a few inferior chew toy products out there that really won’t last long. That’s why this guide exists – to help you sort the best from the worst!
Of course, you should also be careful with moving parts and choking hazards on any dog puzzle toy. Think carefully about the activity level your dog is likely to demonstrate while using their toy. Are they going to be so desperate for treats or kibble that they wrench one or two moving pieces off?
Look for well-built puzzle toys from brands like Outward Hound and Mad Scientist – these are well-trusted companies who build interactive dog toy systems which are safe to use and built to last.
Make Your own Dog Toys
You could literally spend hundreds of pounds on dog toy products but there are some that you can make at home for free. From toilet roll tubes stuffed with frozen treats or kibble to plastic bottles wrapped in a sock and homemade puzzle toys there are countless options
This video shows how to make some easy enrichment toys for your dog without spending a penny
Are Kongs good for mental stimulation?
Definitely, when dog owners buy a dog toy from this brand they have peace of mind knowing they are well made and their puzzle toys will keep Fido entertained for ages.
What is the most annoying dog toy?
In our experience dog toys that make a noise are the most annoying and the king of these is the Wobble Wag Giggle Ball with no less than 51 sounds which are triggered every time this puzzle toy is touched or nudged.
How do you stimulate a dog that doesn’t like toys?
The best way is to play with them at first, get excited about the game and maybe choose a chew toy that dispenses treats or is flavoured. My dog doesn’t play but she loves her snuffle mat and anything you can stuff with food.
As you can see, there are many different ways you can entertain your pet with interactive and puzzle toys. Some like a chew toy or dispenser can be pretty simple to master, while other dog puzzle toy options will require a bit more brainpower Ultimately, they are great for mental stimulation either with their human or when left alone.
There are some superb interactive puzzle toys available from brands such as Outward Hound, but I think the above picks show off the best that the interactive toy scene has to offer right now.
If you’re new to these types of toys, give them a look over and see what others have to say, too. Our personal recommendation would be the Nina Ottosson Twister Dog Toy, by Outward Hound as it is durable and mentally stimulates your pet as they release the treats.
Of course ultimately it’s up to you to decide which dog puzzle toy suits your dog’s personality and skill level along with your budget!