Dogs need both physical and mental stimulation in order to be happy and healthy, and the
best toys to keep dogs busy check both boxes, appealing to your pup’s natural desire to chew, sniff, and fetch. But not all toys are ideal for all dogs. If your dog likes to chew, opt for toys that are made from durable rubber, rope, or reinforced fabric. Treat-dispensing toys, puzzle toys, and snuffle mats can be a great option for dogs who are food-motivated. Finally, if your dog loves fetch, an automatic ball launcher can keep them entertained. Boredom can manifest in all kinds of ways in dogs including inappropriate chewing (such as on furniture or shoes), restlessness, whining, and barking. A lack of mental stimulation can also exacerbate behavioral issues associated with separation anxiety. When you’re shopping for a toy to keep your dog occupied, think about what they most enjoy doing. For example, a dog who loves to chew should have plenty of long-lasting chew toys that will help them relieve stress (and even keep their teeth clean!).
From basic chew toys and hardy plushes to a high-tech automatic ball thrower, here are eight incredible toys to keep dogs busy and stave off boredom.
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A Tried-And-True Dog Chew That Keeps Dogs Busy
With more than 16,000 ratings on Amazon (and counting!), this
KONG Classic is the go-to chew toy for dogs. It's widely recommended by dog parents, and it's the one toy I always have on hand for my foster dogs. The shape adds an extra challenge to playing because it rolls around unpredictably and can be difficult to keep ahold of.
Not only is it fun for chewers to gnaw on, it also can be stuffed with peanut butter or dog treats to entice food-motivated pups. You can even freeze a stuffed KONG to slow down the most efficient chewers! (Try using some of the treats that KONG makes to fit the toy:
Easy Treat, Snacks, and Ziggies.) When your KONG needs a deep clean — and I promise that it will — just toss it in the dishwasher.
The KONG Classic comes in five sizes, ranging from Small to XX-Large. It's made for “average” chewers, but you can also find versions for
power chewers, puppies, and senior dogs. Enthusiastic Amazon review: “If you’re looking for something to keep your dog happy and occupied for several hours at a time, you’ll find it in the Kong. I now have 7 of these [...] one of the best parts of this toy apart from it being able to keep a dog occupied for hours is that cleanup is super simple. Pop these in the top rack of your dishwasher, and they’ll be clean and ready to be re-stuffed in no time!”
An Interactive Puzzle Toy
Simply fill the compartments of
this Outward Hound puzzle toy with treats and swivel the lids to cover them — then see how quickly your pup can figure out how to get them open! With a spinning center and blocks that your dog can slide along a track with their nose, this toy is plenty engaging and challenging. The puzzle toy is made of a composite material and doesn't have any removable parts, but always make sure to supervise your dog with the puzzle toy to make sure they don’t chew it up.
This is an “advanced” puzzle toy, so if you think it might be too complicated, opt for an
intermediate or easy puzzle toy instead. Enthusiastic Amazon review: “Bought this puzzle to occupy our golden. She really enjoys it. It's very high quality and I appreciate that the pieces are all attached so she can't carry parts outside with her.”
A Super Durable Plush Dog Toy
Lots of dogs love stuffed animals — and many love to destroy them. The
goDog Plush Dog Toy has the exterior fluff and interior squeaker that appeals to dogs who enjoy ripping apart their stuffed toys, but it’s reinforced with a chew-resistant lining and double-stitched seams for a little extra durability. It comes in Mini, Small, Large, and X-Large sizes, and in seven different colors.
No plush toy will be indestructible, but the manufacturer says that this one should outlast a standard plush dog toy — if not, they’ll send you a replacement. (If you're looking for more squeaky toys that stand up to chewing, check out
these durable squeaky toys.) Enthusiastic Amazon review: “My dog will rip up a stuffed toy in minutes. It gets very expensive. But for some reason this cute ball has made it 4 months and [is] still going. My dog also loves that she can grab the fur and [throw] it around by herself.”
A Treat-Dispensing Wobble Toy That Keeps Dogs On Their Toes
Food-motivated dogs will enjoy being challenged by the
StarMark Bob-A-Lot interactive dog toy. All you have to do is put some treats inside it and watch your dog try to wobble them out. Unlike many treat-dispensing toys, you can actually adjust the openings to increase the difficulty as your dog gets the hang of it. The Bob-A-Lot is available in two sizes — Large and Small. The Large size can fit 3 cups of food, while the Small fits half that amount. Enthusiastic Amazon review: “My dogs LOVE this toy. Keeps them busy and they go back to it over and over. This is our favorite food-dispensing toy or food puzzle that we have.”
A Rope Ball That’s Difficult For Dogs To Destroy
My current foster dog loves rope toys, and the complicated knots in toys like
Mammoth Pet Products's Flossy Chews can keep her occupied a long time. This budget-friendly rope ball is made of a colorful cotton-blend rope that cleans your dog's teeth as they chew. Plus, it can be used as a tug-of-war toy when you want to play, too! Flossy Chews come in Small, Large, X-Large, and Colossal sizes. Enthusiastic Amazon review: “My dog loved these. She can chew on them for hours and not get bored. She loves chewing and this gives her something to work on for several months.”
A Bouncy Toy For Dogs Who Love Balls
When it comes to toys, some dogs simply prefer balls. A soft yet durable ball like the
Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff dog toy is a great alternative to a tennis ball, which typically won’t stand up to much wear and tear (particularly of the chewing kind). Planet Dog states that the Orbee-Tuff ball, however, is suitable for extreme chewers.
It floats in water and it can be filled with treats for more food-motivated pups. The Orbee-Tuff Planet Ball is peppermint-scented to keep your pup’s breath fresh and is totally recyclable too. It comes in three colors and three sizes.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: “This ball has lasted a month now! It is bouncy and soft enough to chew, making it hours of fun for my pooches. It also has a nice minty scent. I would say it is definitely worth the money.”
A Snuffle Mat For Dogs Who Love To Sniff
STELLAIRE CHERN Snuffle Mat can help dogs hone their sniffing and rooting skills. Just tuck kibble or bits of treats into the folds of the mat and let your dog have at it. Like the puzzle toy, a snuffle mat is a good option for food-motivated dogs who don’t love to chew to keep busy.
This machine-washable Snuffle Mat is made of polar fleece and upcycled materials and has an anti-slip backing to keep it from moving around. It also rolls up for convenient storage.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: “Our dog LOVES this snuffle mat. He is notoriously picky about toys (pretty much if it doesn't dispense food he's not interested) [...] It keeps him busy for hours, plus all of the time after he's gotten all the food out where he'll go back and sniff around just to be SURE he didn't miss anything. Super fun to watch him move and keeps him busy while we're away!”
A High-Tech Fetch Toy That Throws The Ball For You
Dogs who love fetch will get a kick out of the
iFetch, an automatic ball launcher that can throw a ball 10, 25, or 40 feet, depending on the setting selected. You can also set it to throw randomly if you want to keep your dog from getting too comfortable. It runs on an internal rechargeable battery (though it can also be plugged into a wall outlet) and it uses standard sized tennis balls (it comes with a pack of three balls to get you started).
There's a bit of a learning curve with the iFetch, as you have to teach your dog how to drop the ball into the opening at the top — but once they've learned that, all you have to do is turn it on and relax while they tire themselves out. Be sure to supervise your pup's playtime, though, to ensure they don't get too excited and experience overexertion.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: “I have 2 border collies that are obsessed with fetch. All day every day. The iFetch Too is awesome at keeping them busy.”