10 Best Interactive Dog Toys of 2021

Dog Playing With the Best Interactive Dog Toy

As more pet owners embrace caring for dogs’ mental well being alongside physical health, the makers of dog toys are following suit. Interactive dog toys alleviate boredom and stimulate your dog’s brain. From attention-grabbing puzzles to enticing treat dispensers, the best interactive dog toys tap into dogs’ natural instincts, exercising problem-solving skills, and even managing anxiety.

With innovative brands like Nina Ottosson designing thoughtful and complex options, you may be wondering what the best puzzle or treat dispensing toy is for your pup. We’ve gathered our top finds to help you choose the perfect match. 

Our Top Picks: Best Interactive Dog Toys

Without further ado, let’s jump right into our list of interactive dog toys!

1. Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Brick Puzzle Game

The best interactive dog toy overall

Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Brick Puzzle Game Dog Toy

Brand: Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound | Cognitive Benefits: Problem-Solving, Mental Stimulation | Material: Polypropylene | Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced | Price: 💰💰

Nina Ottosson’s puzzle challenges dogs to use their noses and paws to unearth the treats you hide in the compartments. It motivates pups to hone their detective skills, then rewards them for their sleuth work with favorite snacks.

This puzzle provides options for difficulty and variety to hold your dog’s interest. The red containers both flip open and slide to reveal treats inside and below them. Add white blocks to cover more treats and increase difficulty. Or, for something to do on a hot day, freeze treats in the compartments (like an ice cube tray) and let your pup at it!

  • Provides options for variety of play
  • Leaves excited dogs calm after play
  • Keeps attention and solves boredom

  • Not for rough and tough chewers
  • Detachable lids require closer supervision

2. Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Snoop Treat Dispensing Chew Toy

The best eco-friendly interactive dog toy

Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Snoop Treat Dispensing Tough Dog Chew Toy

Brand: Planet Dog | Cognitive Benefits: Problem-Solving, Foraging, Burrowing | Material: Thermoplastic Elastomer | Difficulty: Intermediate | Price: 💰💰

The fully recyclable and non-toxic Orbee-Tuff Snoop uses a straightforward but effective design. Simply fold the mouth of this squishy toy inward to create a crevice that will hold treats of various sizes. Your dog will nuzzle and paw to root them out.

The Snoop’s opening will hold any 2.5-inch ball for an added barrier to the goodies.

  • Easy cleaning
  • Secures both large and small treats well
  • Holds dogs’ interest even after treats are gone

  • Not durable enough for some chewers
  • Not as challenging for slim-snouted dogs

3. Trixie Mini Mover Activity Strategy Game

The best puzzle toy for dogs (advanced)

Trixie Mini Mover Activity Strategy Game Dog Toy, Level 3

Brand: Trixie | Cognitive Benefits: Problem-Solving, Mental Stimulation | Material: Plastic | Difficulty: Advanced | Price: 💰💰

For the canine smarty-pants who thinks all those other puzzle toys are for dunces. Trixie labels the Mini Mover as level 3, its highest level of difficulty, and no wonder. With four different games, this puzzle presents a real gamer’s challenge.

With cones to be lifted, hidden compartments to be found, and drawers to be opened by knob and by rope-pull, this board will keep your dog working for the reward. Additionally, the instruction booklet contains play ideas to keep the puzzle fresh.

  • High difficulty level
  • Good value for price
  • Entertaining to watch

  • Hard plastic not suitable for chewers
  • Removable pieces require closer supervision

4. Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Tornado Puzzle Game

The best puzzle toy for dogs (beginner)

Nina Ottosson Toy

Brand: Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound | Cognitive Benefits: Problem-Solving, Mental Stimulation | Material: Polypropylene | Difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate | Price: 💰💰

Want to get your dog started on her journey to becoming a puzzle master, but don’t want to frustrate her just yet? The Tornado has four levels of treat-filled rotating discs to get her going. Easy to spin with a paw or snout, the discs reveal treats or kibble. A good game for playing together, as you help your dog figure out the mystery.

  • Easy setup
  • Fun bonding game
  • Accessible for beginners

  • Too easy for some dogs
  • Hard plastic and small parts not good for chewers

5. Frisco Hide and Seek Plush Volcano Puzzle

The best treatless puzzle toy for dogs

Frisco Hide and Seek Plush Volcano Puzzle

Brand: Frisco | Cognitive Benefits: Burrowing, Treat-free Problem-Solving | Material: Polyester | Difficulty: Beginner | Price: 💰💰

Dog on a diet? Most interactive dog toys involve using treats or kibble as a motivator for play. That’s not ideal for everyone. Luckily, Frisco offers a line of treatless hide and seek games, so no one’s left out.

This plush volcano is equipped with three holes. Hide its six stuffed dinosaurs inside it and watch your pup root them and their squeakers out. Excellent for dogs with burrowing instincts. 

If dinosaurs aren’t your thing, not to worry. Explore Frisco’s other designs, ranging from chicken and waffles to a USA gym bag.

  • Keeps dogs’ attention
  • Engaging as solo or group play
  • Replacement dinosaurs available

  • Synthetic stuffing
  • Too easy to tear up

6. Starmark Treat Dispensing Chew Ball

The best treat dispensing toy for dogs

Starmark Treat Dispensing Chew Ball

Brand: Starmark | Cognitive Benefits: Foraging, Anxiety and Boredom Reduction | Material: Thermoplastic Elastomer | Difficulty: Intermediate | Price: 💰

Treat dispensers made from hard plastic can be a hazard for heavy chewers, especially dogs who chew to relieve anxiety. Made from durable but forgiving non-toxic material, Starmark’s treat dispensing chew ball will set your mind at ease as it sets your dog’s mind to task.

  • Durability 
  • Safe for chewing 
  • Quieter than hard plastic treat dispensers

  • Some find a distasteful odor
  • Treat size must be exact for most effective use

7. Outward Hound Fun Feeder Interactive Dog Bowl

The best interactive feeder toy for dogs

Outward Hound Fun Feeder Interactive Dog Bowl

Brand: Outward Hound | Cognitive Benefits: Mental Stimulation, Food-Related Anxiety Reduction | Material: Plastic | Difficulty: Beginner | Price: 💰

If your dog tends to eat so fast it makes even you a little sick; this bowl serves a double purpose. Its maze-like structure turns eating into a game, energizing your dog’s brain while getting them to slow down.

In addition to promoting healthy digestion, the fun feeder is PVC, BPA, and phthalate-free. A non-slip base helps keep the mess to a minimum.

  • Sturdy materials
  • Prevents gas and bloating 
  • Works with wet and dry food

  • Some dogs reacted with unease
  • Deep grooves not suitable for shorter snouts

8. PAW5 Wooly Snuffle Mat

The best interactive dog toy for motivating picky eaters

PAW5 Wooly Snuffle Mat The best interactive dog toy for motivating picky eaters

Brand: PAW5 | Cognitive Benefits: Foraging, Food-Related Anxiety Reduction | Material: Eco-friendly cotton/polyester | Difficulty: Beginner | Price: 💰💰💰

This feeding mat gets picky eaters to enjoy mealtime more by catering to natural foraging instincts. Your dog will snuffle through the mat’s grass-like texture in search of buried kibble. This product can be especially helpful for older dogs who struggle with appetite. 

Wooly gets extra points for being sustainably produced and machine washable for easy cleanup.

  • Easy cleaning
  • Slows eating for overeaters
  • Entertains and motivates reluctant eaters 

  • Requires supervision
  • Dogs who enjoy shaking toys will make a mess

9. West Paw Zogoflex Large Tux Dog Toy

The best interactive dog toy for heavy chewers

West Paw Zogoflex Large Tux Dog Toy The best interactive dog toy for heavy chewers

Brand: West Paw | Cognitive Benefits: Mental Stimulation, Anxiety Reduction | Material: Thermoplastic Elastomer | Difficulty: Beginner | Price: 💰💰

Designed with chew fanatics in mind, the Tux is a durable chew toy with a stuffable pocket at its center. Fill the cavity with treats, peanut butter, or whatever gets your dog motivated. 

Made in Montana from US-sourced non-toxic, recyclable materials, this toy is ideal for keeping a tough chewer occupied for a substantial amount of time. Larger dogs who chew to relieve stress are a good fit.

  • Withstands heavy chewing
  • Fun bounce pattern when thrown
  • Keeps occupied for more prolonged periods 

  • Smaller treats come out easily
  • Not a challenging or complex puzzle

10. Jolly Pets Tuff Tosser Dog Toy

The best interactive dog toys for small chewers

Jolly Pets Tuff Tosser Dog Toy The best interactive dog toys for small chewers

Brand: Jolly Pets | Cognitive Benefits: Mental Stimulation, Anxiety Reduction | Material: Rubber | Difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate | Price: 💰

Never underestimate the small but determined of our canine friends. Many of the tiniest among them turn out to be the most incessant — and powerful — chewers. 

Jolly Pet’s small treat stuffer ball is made from extra-durable natural rubber. Its ridges help massage teeth and gums, keeping your pint-size pup’s mouth in good condition. Meanwhile, the small treats inside keep a high energy dog engaged and focused on a goal.

  • Friendly price
  • Durable and lasting
  • Treats are challenging enough to get out

  • Rubbery odor
  • Not suitable for softer treats

What to Look for in the Best Interactive Dog Toys

The Best Interactive Dog Toy
Image by Canva Photos

We all know to get our dogs plenty of exercise to keep their bodies healthy. It seems like a no brainer to also exercise their minds — but how? To find the best fit for your soon-to-be-brainiac pup, first, ask a couple of questions:

  • What are my behavioral and cognitive goals for my dog?
  • What is my dog’s play style, or, how does my dog interact with toys and games?

Finding the Proper Level of Engagement

Most interactive toys fall into two categories: complex puzzles and simpler treat dispensers. If your main goal is to sharpen your dog’s problem-solving skills, the best dog puzzle toys offer an excellent challenge. However, all dogs are different, and yours might get frustrated if the first puzzle you present is too difficult. 

If in doubt, start with a more leisurely game first. You can even try some simple games at home, such as hiding a favorite toy under a sheet or towel. This will help you get an idea of your dog’s ability and persistence level first before you invest in a purchase.

Materials & Construction

Treat dispensing toys are simpler in design but can work wonders by keeping dogs engaged and focused. Before purchasing, be sure to consider the toy’s material. If your dog is an avid chewer, treat dispensers made from hard plastics could pose a hazard. 

Of course, you know your dog better than anyone, so trust your instincts and use this guide to find the best interactive toy for your dog’s individual health and wellness. Luckily, the brands we’ve researched offer a wide range of options for dogs and owners of all kinds.

Our Process

For this guide on interactive dog toys, our team spent 3 hours researching the most popular options from over 20 brands and manufacturers big and small. We then read about two hundred user reviews (both positive and negative) to discover what shoppers thought about each toy. After comparing this data, we narrowed our list down to the top 10 interactive dog toys on the market. You can count on this research to guide you to a mindful purchasing decision.

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