Dachshund playing with an interactive dog toy

Best Interactive Dog Toys Australia - Stimulating Options For Boredom

Our #1 Pick

The Best Value for Money

Outward Hound - Nina Ottoson Dog Brick Games and Puzzles - Level 2

  • High mental stimulation
  • Strengthens the bond between you and your pet
  • Made from food-safe materials and easy to clean

We all want to believe our dogs are living the time of their lives, but the fact is that they do get bored sometimes. No matter how much fun you two might have during walks or backyard fetch sessions, there’s a time of the day where they’re just napping on the sofa. There are times when dogs love just chilling and doing nothing, but if that’s their daily routine, they’ll start expressing their dissatisfaction. Chewed-up shoes or cables are just one way of showing that. 

An interactive toy is a great way to keep your pooch occupied while you’re at work and might just be one of the best dog toys you'll by your pup.

In this article, we’ll go over the best interactive dog toys Australia has to offer and help you pick the right one for your dog.


How To Pick The Best Interactive Dog Toy

For most people, an interactive dog toy is a way to keep their dog entertained while they’re home alone. That way, their attention is focused on the toy, and not on the potential things to destroy around the house.

The interactive toy keeps the dog engaged both physically and mentally, and there’s no better way to exhaust your canine companion (1). Before you start searching for the perfect toy for your dog, let’s go over different types of interactive dog toys and what to look for.

My philosophy is a tired dog is a good dog,” Caren Malgesini, a vet assistant at PAWS for PetMD


Types Of Interactive Dog Toys

Every interactive dog toy works on the same principle: it gives a response to the way your pooch interacts with it. There are tons of different interactive toys for dogs, all of which can be grouped into several categories.

The most common type of interactive dog toys is the food dispensing toy. As your dog plays with it, the toy occasionally drops out a kibble or a treat. The food is the incentive for a longer playtime, and this toy also teaches your pup to eat more slowly.

Puzzle dog entertainment toys bring food dispensing to another level. Your dog not only has to interact with it, but also solve the puzzle to reach the treat. This type of toy keeps your pooch heavily mentally engaged, so it’s important to find one of the right difficulty levels for your dog. Otherwise, your canine friend might end up destroying the whole thing in frustration.

Hide and seek toys have detachable pieces that your dog needs to “find.” If your dog brings home toys found during your walks, then this type of toy is a perfect option. It promotes natural dog behaviours like sniffing, and it’s a great way your dog can practice problem-solving skills. 

Finally, there are different high-tech toys you can find on the market. Movement, light and sound effects are just some of the things these toys provide. Of course, you get what you paid for, so if you want a super awesome toy, you can brag about to your friends, be ready to spend a pretty penny.

Features To Consider

With so many different types of stimulating dog toys, picking the right one for your pooch seems like an impossible job. Here are some features you need to consider when getting your dog a new toy.

Size

Most toys come in different sizes, and it’s always wise to pick the one recommended for your dog. Tiny pooches will have difficulty playing with a toy half their size. On the other hand, small toys can pose a choking hazard to large dogs.

Material

When picking the right toy for your dog, pay attention to the material it’s made of. Dog toys are usually made of either rubber or plastic, and dogs can be allergic to both of them. Polymer allergies aren’t as common as latex allergies are, but they can still happen. Furthermore, the toy’s quality and durability depend on the material it’s made of. No one wants to spend a good amount of money on a fashionable-looking toy that will snap the first time the dog bites on it.

Enjoyment

Finally, none of the above matters if your dog doesn’t enjoy the toy. You might buy the most popular interactive toy there is and your pooch may not show any interest in it. On another hand, there are basic-looking toys that end up being our dogs’ favourites. You know your pooch’s personality and capacities best, so pick the toy that goes well with that.


The 8 Best Stimulating Dog Toys

So now that you know what to look for when buying an interactive toy for your pooch, the only thing left is to make your pick. Here are several options we believe are the best dog toys for boredom you can find.

  • High mental stimulation
  • Strengthens the bond between you and your pet
  • Made from food-safe materials and easy to clean

Does your dog have plenty of toys but still get bored easily? Dogs, just like humans, like both physical and mental challenges. In fact, the latter can drain their energy faster than a long game of catch would. To prevent destructive behaviour as a result of boredom, Outward Hound paired with Nina Ottonson to design a series of dog puzzles that will keep your pooch occupied.

The puzzle series has four levels of difficulty. Each puzzle has different treat compartments and, depending on the level, your dog needs to combine actions to reach the kibble. The puzzle we chose for this list has red blocks that have to be open and white ones that have to be slid in order for your pooch to reach deserved treats. Each block has scent holes, so your canine friend knows what waits underneath.

This toy is great for dogs of all ages, but it’s especially suitable for growing pups. This puzzle teaches them to be patient and practical, and it also helps you build a bond with your new pooch. The product is BPA, PVC and Phthalate-free, which means it’s safe for your dog’s health. However, the plastic is not chew-proof, so you should always observe your pooch playing with the puzzle.

Verified Review - 01/10/2020
Love how hardy it is and how much my dog has fun playing with it
"This puzzle is very hardy. Not flimsy plastic at all and my dog, who is a hard chewer, has not made a dent in it... yet. Even though he's played this puzzle a fair few times now, I think he still enjoys it. I definitely would recommend this for dogs that aren't very delicate with their playthings!"

Pros

Cons

  • High mental stimulation
  • Requires your supervision
  • Strengthens the bond between you and your pet
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  • Made from food-safe materials and easy to clean
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  • Food isn’t used as an incentive
  • Comes in different styles
  • You can buy extra plushies additionally

If your pooch loves playing with plush squeaky toys, then getting this Hide-A-Squirrel puzzle series is a must. Outward Hound created this line of plush hide and seek puzzle toys to help you keep your canine companion entertained and both physically and mentally engaged. You can rest assured after the playtime is over, your pooch will snore like there’s no tomorrow.

Stuff the plush tree trunk with two squeaky hedgies and place it on the floor. Then, sit back and relax while watching your pooch trying to figure out how to take those little creatures out of the trunk. The tree trunk has an attached lid, so your dog has to use the natural hunting instinct to reach the inside. But the fun doesn’t stop there. You can use those plush hedgies for a good ol’ game of fetch, too.

If you or your pooch aren’t fans of hedgehogs, don’t worry. There’s a variety of styles to choose from, from squirrels and birds to bees and rainbows. And if any of the squeaking toys suffer an “accident,” you can always buy a replacement pack. The material the Hide-A-Squirrel is made of is gentle on teeth and gums, and it’s great for pups of all ages. However, keep in mind that it isn’t indestructive.

Pros

Cons

  • Food isn’t used as an incentive
  • Not suitable for chewers
  • Comes in different styles
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  • You can buy extra plushies additionally
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  • Very hard to chew through
  • Slows down mealtime
  • Unexpected movement keeps the dog stimulated

KONG is a brand that has been around for around 50 years, and whose toys are loved by pups all over the world. Over the decades, the brand mastered creating toys that are durable and attractive to dogs of all ages. The Wobbler is one of their treat-dispensing toys that your pooch will surely love.

This odd-looking toy does just what the name suggests. It wobbles. It sits upright until your dog pushes it with the nose or paws. Then, it starts spinning and wobbling around the floor, occasionally dispensing yummy treats you filled it with. This toy is better than a ball. It rolls and spins in unexpected directions, and you can rest assured your pup won’t grow tired of it anytime soon.

Related: What To Stuff In A Dog Kong Toy?

To fill it with kibble, simply unscrew the top part. The Wobbler is great for fast-eating dogs as it slows down the mealtime and makes them work for their food. It’s made of food-grade high-strength polymer and can be washed in the dishwasher. It’s practically chew-proof, which makes it one of the best indestructible toys for puppies home alone. It comes in two sizes. Small fits 1/2 cup of kibble and it’s suitable for dogs like Chihuahuas and Maltesers. For medium to large dogs, go for a bigger one, as it fits 1 cup of food.

Pros

Cons

  • Very hard to chew through
  • Holes on the larger model might be big for some treats
  • Slows down mealtime
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  • Unexpected movement keeps the dog stimulated
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#4: Best For Puppies: Wobble Wag Giggle Ball

  • Clutch pockets help dogs pick the ball up
  • The glow in the dark version is great for nighttime play sessions
  • Made of sturdy and durable material

There are tons of different pet toys on the market, but for some dogs, nothing can replace a good ol’ ball. And usually, playing with a ball means that you have to be the one throwing it for your pooch to catch. But that’s not the case with this Wobble Wag Giggle ball.

It must run on batteries and move by itself, right? No, the ball moves just like a regular one would. The catch lies in the giggly sounds it makes when moved around. This sound will surely catch your dog’s interest and awaken the natural instinct for playtime. Once the ball starts rolling on the floor, your pooch will forget about including you in the play. In fact, rest assured that the Wobble Wag Giggle ball will occupy your dog even when home alone.

The ball is made of durable Phthalate-free vinyl and can be used both indoors and outdoors. The WWG ball comes in one size that’s suitable for dogs of all ages and sizes. Thanks to six clutch pockets all around the ball, your pooch can easily pick it up. You can choose the basic green colour, or a white one that glows in the dark. To charge the latter, simply place it under the light source before the playtime.

Pros

Cons

  • Clutch pockets help dogs pick the ball up
  • It’s not very bouncy
  • The glow in the dark version is great for nighttime play sessions
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  • Made of sturdy and durable material
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  • Great for blind dogs
  • Has an automatic sleep mode
  • Can endure tough chewing

Our dogs love when we talk to them. Verbal communication strengthens the bond between us even though we don’t really speak the same language. In time, our pooches learn what things we’re saying mean and answer to them. So, when you’re not home, who’ll talk to your dog? A talking Babble Ball from Pet Qwerks could.

Every pet parent knows certain phrases, such as “who’s a good dog?” can get the pooch excited and ready for play. Pet Qwerks had that in mind, so they created an interactive ball that talks to your dog. With over 20 different wisecracks, your dog will think the ball is alive and calling for a game of chase.

The Babble Ball works on three replaceable button cell batteries that come with the package. There’s no on/ off button. Instead, your dog’s breath and even the slightest movement around the ball can set it off. After your pooch is done playing, the ball automatically turns off until it’s touched again. It’s made of ABS plastic and can withstand even the toughest chewers making it one of the best chew proof dog toys out there. It’s blue and there are two sizes available.

Pros

Cons

  • Great for blind dogs
  • Very timid dogs can be scared of this toy
  • Has an automatic sleep mode
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  • Can endure tough chewing
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  • The dog can see, smell and hear the kibble inside
  • Comes in three sizes
  • Chewing and falling on a hardwood floor won’t break the toy

Let’s be real, the majority of our canine companions are voracious. They love walks, play, rubbing, but eating usually comes first. That’s why there’s a variety of meal dispensing toys on the market. The idea behind them is great, and some have a great design that your pooch will surely love. This Tug-A-Jug toy from PetSafe is a good example of such a toy.

This toy resembles a bottle featuring a tug rope coming out of the neck. Your pooch can see and smell the treats you place inside, as well as hear the kibble as the toy rolls around the floor. Throughout the play, the toy randomly dispenses the treats for your pup to pick up. The Tug-A-Jug is made of food-safe plastic that’s very durable, so chewing and tossing it around won’t break it.

The toy comes in three sizes: Extra Small, Small and Medium/Large. The first one is suitable for dogs under 4.5 kg. For dogs like Beagles and Australian Shepherds, go for Small. For any pooch larger than 18 kg, such as Labs and Hounds, the Large is the way to go.

Pros

Cons

  • The dog can see, smell and hear the kibble inside
  • The sound of plastic hitting the floor can be annoying
  • Comes in three sizes
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  • Chewing and falling on a hardwood floor won’t break the toy
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#7: Best For Dogs Home Alone: Aussie Dog Home Alone Toy

  • Can dispense food too
  • Can be used both indoors and outdoors
  • Indestructible

No pet parent likes leaving their pooch alone at home. A million things go through our minds. Will they get lonely, scared or even destructive? There’s only so much we can do to keep them occupied while we’re out. One option is to get some toys dogs home alone can play with.  Aussie Dog has made a toy specifically for that occasion.

This hanging bungee ball toy is designed to keep your dog entertained while you’re away. It’s supposed to be hung on a branch, beam, washing line or any other sturdy object. That way, dogs can play a tug of war all by themselves. Thanks to the bungee strap, once the dog releases the toy, it springs up and encourages even more play. You can also place kibble inside the ball which will randomly dispense it during the tug. It also features an internal rattle that spices things up even more.

We know that tug of war isn’t exactly a gentle game, but this toy is basically indestructible. Since Aussie Dog makes products for bears and lions, you can rest assured they know how to make a sturdy toy for a dog. This specific bungee toy is suitable for dogs ranging from 10 to 30 kg, but you can find one suitable for dogs of all sizes.

Pros

Cons

  • Can dispense food too
  • Needs to be hung from something durable
  • Can be used both indoors and outdoors
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  • Indestructible
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#8: Best High Tech Dog Toy: SKYMEE Fury Bone Smart Interactive Pet Toy

  • A variety of movement and speed options
  • Quick charge time
  • Automatic and app-controlled modes available

Nowadays you can find tech gadgets on the market that are designed specifically for pets. It’s the 21st century, and dogs’ needs evolve just like ours. Skymee has made a tech toy that will keep your pooch occupied 24/7.

You can control this bone-shaped interactive toy via an app on your phone. There are nine movement modes it can perform, from turning around to backflipping and swinging. Each movement flashes a different colour of light, and dogs love all things flashy. The Fury Bone can move at three different speeds, the fastest being 3m/s. There’s also an automatic play mode programmed for 60 minutes, and the toy responds differently to your dog’s actions, like chasing or teasing.

The toy is made of ABS plastics, and it can be used both indoors and outdoors. Once the wheels get dirty, you can remove them and wash them with soap and water. In case they get bitten or broken, Skymee offers a replacement service. The battery is rechargeable with a Micro USB cable. When charged for 1½ hours, the battery lasts up to an hour in the drive mode, and another hour in the interactive mode.

Pros

Cons

  • A variety of movement and speed options
  • A bit pricey
  • Quick charge time
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  • Automatic and app-controlled modes available
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The Verdict

Most dog owners know how destructive dogs become when they’re bored. Physical and mental stimulation that interactive dog toys provide is a great method of keeping them occupied and away from your furniture and things.

If you’re looking for a toy that will challenge your dog to solve the puzzle and get rewarded for it, go for the Level 2 Dog Brick Game by Nina Ottoson. This toy offers high mental stimulation and it’s a great way you can strengthen the bond between your pooch and yourself.

If you’re looking for an interactive toy that doesn’t use food as an incentive, then the Hide-A-Squirrel by Outward Hound is a great choice for you. After your dog finds the hidden animals, you can use them for a good ol’ game of fetch.

Want to learn more about dog toys? Check out our below guides:

FAQ

Can I leave my dog with a toy unattended?

While the general idea behind interactive toys is that your dog can play alone, leaving them playing unsupervised is not always a good choice. This depends on the material the toy is made of. In the case of toys that are easily chewed-through, always keep an eye on your dog playing with them.

Are squeaky toys bad for dogs?

Some dogs love squeaky toys, others despise them. The sounds these toys make trigger the dog’s natural ability to catch, and many dog owners worry if that’s bad for their dogs. The answer is it depends. In some dogs, these sounds may cause hyperactivity and aggression (2).

Is plastic safe for dogs?

Not every kind of plastic. High-density polyethylene, for example, is a type of plastic not harmful to dogs. When buying a toy made of this material, make sure it’s BPA and Phthalate-free, as these are the compounds that can harm your pup in several ways (3).

References
  1. Watson, E. July 19, 2018 “Why interactive toys are good for your dog”. Animal Wellness Magazine.  Retrieved March 20, 2021. https://animalwellnessmagazine.com/interactive-toys-2/
  2. PetMD Editorial. March 24, 2017. “8 Simple, Cost-Efficient Ways to Keep Your Dog Mentally Stimulated”. PetMD. Retrieved March 22, 2021. https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/8-simple-cost-efficient-ways-keep-your-dog-mentally-stimulated
  3. McWilliams, E. August 2012 “Paw Talk: The Good, The Bad and The Squeaky”. Antigravity. Retrieved March 20, 2021. https://antigravitymagazine.com/column/paw-talk-the-good-the-bad-and-the-squeaky/
  4. Bratskeir, K. April 9th, 2019. “Are Plastic Dog Toys Harming Your Pet?”. HuffPost. Retrieved March 20th, 2021.  https://www.huffpost.com/entry/no-plastic-dog-cat-toys_n_5d6a808ee4b0cdfe0570dbb3
Vedrana Nikolic

Vedrana Nikolić is a professional writer, anthropologist & dog lover with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology. Currently pursuing a Masters degree in Semiotics studying the communication between animals and humans. Vedrana is able to use her expertise to analyse and review dog products and write informative posts on canine behaviour and training.

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