Category Archives for Dog Toys

DIY Homemade & Recycled Dog Toys: 10 Easy Ideas

DIY Homemade & Recycled Dog Toys -
A How To Guide

Is your dog tearing through their toys in no time? Then these DIY dog toys might save your budget.

Using common items you already have at home, these simple toys will give your pup hours of entertainment, at a fraction of the cost!

Here are our favourite make-it-yourself dog toys.

Two dogs playing with a DIY rope toy

How To Make DIY Dog Toys Fun

We’ve all been there: a full afternoon spent making that cute Pinterest dog toy... only for our pup to have zero interest in it. While we can’t promise your creation will be the best dog toy ever, there are a few things you can do to make them more appealing to your dog:

  • Include sound. Things that crinkle or squeak are very attractive for dogs. Check out our first suggestion for a homemade version!
  • Add ‘tentacles’ or braids. These features make the whole toy visually appealing to your pup and add some extra chewing surface. Just make sure the braids are strong to hold up to your dog’s shenanigans.
  • Use something your dog loves. This one will depend on your individual dog. Some pups enjoy the visual stimulation, or the sound. Others are only motivated by food. If that’s your case, it’s best to try the stuffed toys first. We’ve got some good ideas to keep your dog entertained trying to pry treats out of toys.
  • Make games harder. Some dogs are too smart for simple toys and get bored easily. In those cases, try to offer interactive dog toys. These are harder to solve for your dog, and will pose more of a challenge. While most of these are called puzzle toys because your dog needs to solve a problem to get their reward, others just involve adding edible treats to keep your dog focused.

DIY Dog Toys: A Word Of Caution

Homemade dog toys can be a lot of fun, but they also have some dangers. In general, store-bought dog toys are made of non-toxic, sturdy materials designed to handle a dog’s mouth. On the flip side, some common items we have at home can have dangerous dyes, or have small parts that your dog could choke on. Here are a few general guidelines:

  • Make sure you use non-toxic, solid materials. While this isn’t always possible, try to follow common sense. If you can easily tear something up with your hands, don’t use it to make a DIY dog toy.
  • Avoid classic tennis balls. According to different experts, the fuzzy texture in these tends to be too abrasive on your dog’s teeth, causing sensitivity and dental troubles. Tennis balls also have more parts per million of lead than what’s allowed on children’s toys. Not good!
  • Never leave your dog unsupervised with a DIY toy. While this is advisable even for regular toys, it’s especially important for recycled dog toys. Most DIY dog toys are less sturdy, which can pose a choking risk if your dog breaks off smaller pieces. Stay in the same room whenever you give your dog the DIY toy, and keep an eye on them. As soon as you see the toy ripping or breaking, take it from your pup.

10 DIY Dog Toys You Can Make At Home

Now for the fun part! Here are some of our favourite DIY dog toys. Read them all, you’ll probably find the right choice for your pup!

1. Homemade Crinkly Dog Toy

Photo by Ammo the Dachshund

This one is really as easy as it sounds. Just take an old t-shirt and wrap it around an empty water bottle. Carefully rip out one side of the t-shirt to secure the whole thing, and then take out the excess fabric to make braids. The end result will look somewhat similar to a colourful octopus. Check out the full instructions here

2. Surprise Box

Perfect for pups that love to destroy stuff, this one is a super easy DIY that will offer about an hour of fun. The principle is simple: take a cereal box and put some treats your dog will love inside. We recommend sticking with dry treats, because anything wet will weaken the box and your dog might have a harder time taking it out. Then, give it to your dog. In theory, your pup will destroy the box to get to the food inside.

3. Treat Puzzle Made From PVC Pipe.

Photo via New Leaf Nickie

This one is a great option to keep a smart pup entertained. The mechanics are similar to a Kong, but slightly more difficult. You’ll be poking holes into short PVC tubes, using plugs or connectors to close the sides.  Then you can stuff these with dry treats, small enough to pass through the holes you made. In general, this is great if your dog loves kibble, since it’s the easiest stuffing to use. You can get the full instructions here.

4. Frozen Sock.

This one might sound a bit weird, but bear with us. Teething puppies love to scratch their gums, and this period last almost a year, especially among smaller breeds. While this happens, your puppy will probably tear apart your home, chew on everything in sight and destroy their stuff. Frozen socks can be a satisfying, safe way for them to scratch their gums without destroying your home.

Here's what you should do: first, tie a knot with one sock. If you have a large pup, maybe tie together several socks to make a bigger knot. Then, soak the whole thing in water. Once the whole sock is saturated, simply put it in the freezer. When the sock is thoroughly frozen, you can offer it to your puppy.

Keep an eye on your dog and once the sock has completely thawed, just soak it and freeze it again.

5. Chase & Fetch Toy.

This is basically a giant version of a cat toy, and it’s great for those lazy days where your dog needs some exercise but you don’t want to move. Simply put, it’s a long stick with a dog toy tied at the end. The best thing about it is that while playing, you’ll be teaching your dog impulse control and have them panting in no time.

Some trainers call this a flirt pole, because the point is riling up your dog, and teaching them to release on command. The parts are easy: one-metre-long PVC pipe, a long rope, and an attractive dog toy. Then tie the toy, thread the rope through the pipe and then tie it either to the pipe or over itself. The point is to keep the rope from falling through the pipe again.

To play with this, you should make your dog sit or lay calmly before releasing the toy. Then, you fling it around so your dog wants to grab the toy. Let them run around, and eventually catch the toy. Then tell them to release. You’ll repeat the process a few times until your dog is tired. Here’s the full rundown, with an in-depth explanation of the training side of the exercise.

6. Knotted Ball

A simple toy that’s great for pups of all ages, and you can make it as sturdy as you need it to be. It’s really as simple as it sounds: just tie several ropes together until the main knot is big enough for your pup’s mouth. In general, you’ll want to choose a sturdy rope that won’t fall apart the second your dog starts chewing.

For an in-depth tutorial explaining how to make an especially sturdy knot, visit this site.

7. Denim knot

Got old tattered jeans? Here’s a simple way to upcycle them. It’s a very similar idea to all other rope-type dog toys, but sturdier. Jeans tend to be strong, so you can expect these to hold up slightly longer than the typical ripe knot toys.

You can make these jean knots by simply tying two strings together and over each other. On the other hand, you can also make them sturdier by using rope and jeans at the same time, or even tie several straps together.

Here’s a step-by-step tutorial to guide you.

8. Complex Treat Puzzle

This is an amazing option for smart, active breeds like border collies or shepherds. These dogs need consistent mental stimulation, and many times a few runs around the block won’t be enough. Enter this puzzle! This one is a more complex version of a stuffed toy, and your dog will have to work slightly harder to get their treats.

To build this puzzle:
1. Take a large plastic jar with a lid, and make holes large enough for treats to fall out.
2. Put 3 or 4 toilet paper rolls in and finally the treats. You can use kibble, chopped up sausage, chunky dog treats or anything else big enough to go through your little holes.

The point of the game is that your dog will have to roll the whole plastic jar around until the treats start falling out. This will tire and entertain them at the same time! You can check the full how-to here .

9. Dog Toy Storage

This is really more of a training exercise than an actual toy. Simply put, it’s having a designated box to keep your dog’s toys in. Then, you have to train your dog to learn to take out and put back their toys on cue. It will be a fun activity for them, and you’ll have a place to store all your pup’s stuff. It’s a win-win!

10. Wrapped Bouncy Ball

Photo via Ammo the Dachshund

Got an old ball? Then you can spice it up for your pup! This is a great option if your dog tends to destroy balls in no time, and you can even upcycle "damaged" balls and use them for a little more time. The mechanics are simple: take the ball, and wrap a sturdy shirt or rag around it. take some ribbon and use it to secure the ball in place. Then just cut and braid the remaining fabric. Here are the complete instructions.


Final Thoughts

Making homemade dog toys isn’t as difficult as it might seem, and you can even reuse some old t-shirts lying around! Keep in mind DIY toys tend to be less sturdy than regular toys, so if your dog is a heavy chewer, you might want to look into ready-made indestructible toys, or take a look at our ultimate list of the chew dog toys

In any case, DIY toys are a good option to give some variety, even if they’ll only last for one or two days. Have you ever made your own dog toys before? Let us know in the comments below!

8 Best Dog Ball Launcher Options Australia (2021 Buyers Guide)

The Best Dog Ball Launcher -
Ultimate Automatic Fetch Machines

Our #1 Pick

The Best Value for Money

iFetch Original Automatic Dog Ball Launcher

  • Makes almost no noise when on
  • Sturdy and lightweight plastic design
  • Comes with three balls (4 cm)

For some dogs, the ball is really the best dog toy and the centre of their world. They seem to never get tired of playing fetch. And even if your dog is not so crazy about playing fetch, a dog ball launcher can still be a great way for them to get enough exercise.

Today, we walk you through all the options when it comes to ball launchers for dogs.


What to Look for in Ball Launchers for Dogs?

Getting enough physical and mental stimulation every day is essential if you want your dog to be happy.

“Dogs whose exercise and social needs are met are better behaved and more enjoyable pets. Many unruly behaviours that clients are concerned about are a result of a pet being under stimulated. Exercise and play are important for the pet’s mental and physical health and social development.” - Authors of Canine and Feline Behavior for Veterinary Technicians and Nurses (1).

However, it often happens that we don’t have as much energy to match the entertainment levels our dogs require. In this case, a ball launcher can be the perfect solutions you need. Here is what to consider before buying a ball launcher:

Distance and Variability

How far does a launcher throw the ball? These distances can vary - the distance ball launchers can reach starts from about 3 meters to over 20. What you’ll want to do is find a launcher that matches your dog needs. For a small dog, you don’t want too much distance or the dog will get confused. For larger, energetic dogs, you’ll want the ball to go as far as possible. Therefore, make sure to check the distance before settling on a launcher. Some automatic throwers also offer the option of adjusting the distance or even randomized throwing to keep the dog interested.

Ball Size

Many ball launchers use standard tennis balls. However, some of them use balls that look just like tennis balls but are smaller. Checking the size of the balls is very important in order to avoid dangerous accidents. You want a ball that is not too big, so your dog can grab it, but not so small that the dog could swallow it!

Automatic or Manual?

The type of launcher you get depends on the level of engagement you want to have with it. With fully automatic launchers, your dog will essentially be able to play alone (once property trained), Other options include semi-automatic launchers that you need to stomp on, for example, or something as simple as a manual launcher (essentially a ball-grabber that extends your hand).


Dog Ball Thrower 2021 Top List

From completely automatic throwing machines, over stomp-launchers, to simple designs that simply extend your reach when throwing, there are many options to choose from for your game of fetch. Below, you’ll find the best launchers on the market.

What sets this product apart from the rest?

  • Makes almost no noise when on
  • Sturdy and lightweight plastic design
  • Comes with three balls (4 cm)

The award-winning brand iFetch is one of the automatic ball launcher pioneers. Since it came out, iFetch is the number one selling fetch toy. There are a couple of different versions of this product, but the Original is still the most popular option, and probably the best one.

The iFetch Original ball launcher uses balls that are 4 cm in diameter, which is a bit smaller than the standard tennis ball. Beware that for very large dogs, like Mastiffs, for instance, these balls might pose a choking hazard.

This dog fetch machine has an adjustable throw distance. You can choose if you want the thrower to launch the ball 3, 6, or 9 meters far. That makes this launcher suitable for both indoor and outdoor games of fetch. It’s perfect for those moments when you’re away or busy with chores and your dog’s ready for playtime. Its funnel design helps your dog throw the ball into the launcher without much effort. 

The iFetch Original is a bit more pricey than some other ball launchers on the market, but well worth the price. It has a streamlined plastic design and rubber feet which keep it in place. Finally, this ball launcher comes with a long power cord but can also run on 6 C-cell batteries so there is no need to worry about where to plug it in.

Pros

Cons

  • Makes almost no noise when on
  • The balls included are not very durable
  • Sturdy and lightweight plastic design
Cell
  • Comes with three balls (4 cm)
Cell

  • Supports 4 balls loaded at a time
  • 4 distance options
  • Features side handles for portability
  • Doesn’t make much noise

The iDogmate Mini is a simple yet effective ball launcher that will keep your pooch busy when you’re not home. Its rectangular shape makes it difficult for dogs to knock it aside by accident, while the funnel at the top is convenient for them to load the machine. It’s so effortless, your dog will get a hold of it in no time.

This ball launcher is suitable for dogs under 14 kg. The dog’s weight doesn’t have anything to do with the usage of a ball launcher. Instead, the balls are 4.5 cm in diameter, which is the perfect size for a small dog’s mouth. However, larger dogs might swallow the ball, so this product isn’t safe for them.

The iDogmate Mini comes with three balls that are made with food-grade healthy organic paste technology. This assures the balls are safe for the dog's mouth. This ball launcher features the patented Arced Wheel design, which prevents drooly balls from getting stuck inside.

The iDogmate Mini comes with a remote controller that allows you to adjust the launch distance. You can choose several distances from 3 to 10 meters, as well as a random setting. It runs either on an AC adapter or a rechargeable Li-ion battery, which lasts up to 250 throws.

Pros

Cons

  • Supports 4 balls loaded at a time
  • Big dogs risk choking with these small balls
  • 4 distance options
Cell
  • Features side handles for portability
Cell
  • Doesn’t make much noise
Cell

#3: Best For Large Dogs: iFetch Too Dog Toys, Medium

  • Suitable for dogs of all sizes
  • Has a distance randomizing option
  • Long-lasting rechargeable battery

The iFetch Too is a larger variant of their original automatic ball launcher. The original one is designed for small to medium-sized pooches, so it was only appropriate to make another one for our large canine companions that enjoy playing with standard tennis balls. The package includes three balls that are non-abrasive to a dog's teeth.

There are three throw distance options you can choose from 3, 7.5 and 12 meters, or you can choose the feature that randomizes each throw’s distance. This is great for outdoor playtime, since it keeps your pooch wondering how far the ball will go.

Unlike the original version, the iFetch Too comes with a rechargeable battery. It lasts up to 300 throws before it needs to be recharged. That’s long enough to make this ball launcher suitable for dog parks and such. It weighs 5.6 kilograms which is quite heavy for a ball launcher, but it features a nice carrying handle which helps with portability.

Pros

Cons

  • Suitable for dogs of all sizes
  • Balls it comes with get easily soaked with drools
  • Has a distance randomizing option
  • Expensive
  • Long-lasting rechargeable battery
Cell

  • Ideal for small to medium-sized dogs
  • Non-abrasive tennis balls it comes with are safe dog’s teeth
  • The wind-up time allows the dog to get in front of the machine before shooting

If you’re searching for an interactive toy that will keep your pooch occupied when you’re busy doing chores, then this automatic ball thrower for dogs from All For Pawz is a great choice for you. With such a simple yet effective design, every dog will learn how to use it in no time.

This dog ball thrower uses three distance settings: 3, 6 and 9 meters. The distance adjustment allows you to adapt to different spaces, and it’s done with a simple click on one button. The package comes with three tennis balls included. These are a mini version, since they’re only 5 cm in diameter. Considering the distance options and ball size, it’s safe to assume that this ball launcher is more suitable for small to medium breeds.

The ball launcher comes with an AC adapter, but you can put a rechargeable battery in if you prefer using it cordless. It shuts down after a 10 minute-long throwing session, or after a short period of idleness. This is done automatically, which can be annoying, your dog can’t use the launcher while home alone, meaning it requires your supervision. While this feature was probably added for extending the battery life, it’s really unnecessary.

Verified Review - 4/03/2021
Noah Loves It
"Product was as per picture. What I think doesn’t matter because my dog absolutely loves it. Getting him to bring the ball back beside the shooter, but doesn’t quite have the idea of dropping it inside. Most happy with this purchase."

Pros

Cons

  • Ideal for small to medium-sized dogs
  • The automatic shutdown can be annoying
  • Non-abrasive tennis balls it comes with are safe dog’s teeth
Cell
  • The wind-up time allows the dog to get in front of the machine before shooting
Cell

  • Suitable for standard-sized tennis balls
  • Very affordable
  • Compact and lightweight

Foot-controlled pitching machines are a great way to play the fetch game with your dog while not straining your arm by throwing balls endlessly. Instead, you step on the launcher and watch your pooch chase the ball like crazy. This tennis ball launcher from Zelica is a perfect choice for dogs of all sizes and ages.

This pitching machine features a simple design that resembles a balloon. It works on a simple principle - by stepping on it, you force the air to push the ball out through the shooting tube. The distance varies with these kinds of ball throwers. The harder you step on it, the further you’ll send the ball. That’s what makes this product a great option for playtime in the open, but inadequate for indoors.

The launcher comes with one standard-sized tennis ball. While additional balls would be nice, this pitching machine can’t hold more than one ball at a time, so it’s not a big deal. And since it’s so compact, you can throw it in the backpack and take it to a dog park with you.

Pros

Cons

  • Suitable for standard-sized tennis balls
  • Even a light stomp can be too strong for playing indoors
  • Very affordable
Cell
  • Compact and lightweight
Cell

#6: Best Range: Nerf Dog Stomp Launcher

  • Launches ball up to 23 meters
  • Works with any standard tennis ball
  • Made of a sturdy, recyclable material

Nerf Dog is a line of Nerf-inspired dog toys made of rubber and plastic. One of their most popular products is this long-distance ball thrower that can launch a ball up to 23 meters in distance. Owners of fast breeds like Whippets or Malinois know the struggle of not being able to throw the ball far enough for their pooches to make more than two jumps before catching it. But with this stomp launcher, that will no longer be an issue.

This ball thrower comes in a bright red colour, and it’s made of durable thermoplastic rubber. Don’t be afraid to stomp heavily on the launcher. The TMR is a sturdy and moldable material commonly used for making durable toys. Always wear shoes when using this launcher, otherwise you might slip when stepping on it.

The neck is perfectly angled, and one stomp sends the ball flying high in the air before falling. Your high-jumping canine companion will finally feel challenged when playing a throwing game with you. The launcher is designed to work with any standard-sized tennis ball. You also get one Nerf ball with the purchase, however, the quality of that ball is not commendable.

Pros

Cons

  • Launches ball up to 23 meters
  • The ball is poorly made
  • Works with any standard tennis ball
Cell
  • Made of a sturdy, recyclable material
Cell

#7: Best Automatic Ball Launcher for Dogs: PetSafe PTY17-15849 Automatic Ball Launcher

  • Nine distance and six angle settings
  • Audible tones and motion sensors for safety
  • Automatic sleep mode prevents your dog from over-exhaustion

Every dog loves a good game of throw, but not every pet parent is a talented ball thrower. Luckily, automatic ball launchers can be of great aid with that. Especially in the case of this product by PetSafe with unique features.

The first thing you notice about this ball thrower is its futuristic design and beautiful grey and purple colour combination. The launcher is pretty large and it can hold three standard tennis balls. It’s water-resistant, which makes it safe to use outdoors during different weather conditions.

If you had to use one word to describe this ball launcher, it would be diversity. There are nine distance settings ranging from 2.5 to 9 meters. You can also choose from six different throwing angles. You can customize the throwing game to suit your pooch’s preferences. This personalization feature makes this launcher great for both indoors and outdoors.

The ball thrower has motion and safety sensors that detect pets and people standing in front of the launch hole. The last thing you want is a black eye from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, there's a beep before a ball’s launched, which is your signal to move out of the way.

This ball launcher has a 15-minute interval rest feature, which ensures your pooch catches a breath for a bit before going for another ball catching session. Like other automatic ball launchers, it comes with a power cord but can also run on 6-D cell batteries.

Pros

Cons

  • Nine distance and six angle settings
  • Sensor motion can be annoying as it delays the throw
  • Audible tones and motion sensors for safety
Cell
  • Automatic sleep mode prevents your dog from over-exhaustion
Cell

#8: Best Manual Dog Ball Thrower: Chuckit! Sport Launcher

  • Affordable
  • Allows you to throw the ball up to 3x farther
  • No need for touching slobbery balls with bare hands
  • Variety of sizes

Automatic ball launchers are practical, but playing one on one with your pooch is so fulfilling. For those pet parents who insist on being the main ball thrower, this launcher from Chuckit! is a perfect tool. It doesn’t take up much space, so you can carry it in a backpack or a car trunk.

This manual thrower has a simple design. Basically, it’s a long-handled plastic spoon. It comes in different sizes. The longer the thrower’s handle is, the greater the launch distance you’ll have. However, don’t think that the short-handled version is suitable for indoor use. The thrower creates such a strong force that will break any vase or window it comes across.

If your dog is an excessive drooler, then you’ll love this manual launcher. The same goes for outdoor plays in the mud. With Chuckit! you can pick a ball up without getting your hands dirty or wet. You can also do that without bending over or kneeling, which is great for elderly pet owners.

Verified Review - 24/03/2021
Looks Great But Not Meant For Golden Retrievers
"I like the design but the ball was to small for my Golden Retriever and German Shepard. They would easily swallow it. I returned it and exchanging it for the medium size."

Pros

Cons

  • Affordable
  • It requires a bit of practice getting used to throwing with this
  • Allows you to throw the ball up to 3x farther
Cell
  • No need for touching slobbery balls with bare hands
Cell
  • Variety of sizes
Cell

Best Automatic Ball Launcher: The Final Verdict

So which ball launcher should you get? The iFetch Original Automatic Dog Ball Launcher is definitely amongst the most popular options. It’s an automatic ball thrower that works flawlessly and is easy for dogs to use.

The iDogmate Mini Ball Launcher is an alternative that comes pretty close and has a similar design to the iFetch. Both throwers let you choose how far you want the balls to fly and can work using batteries.

Want more information on dog toys? Check out our below guides:

FAQ

How do you train a dog to use a ball launcher?

There are a couple of ways to get a dog used to the ball launcher, but the easiest one is probably using positive reinforcement and going slow. If you are using an automatic ball launcher, first get the dog used to it when it’s turned off. After that, you can turn the machine on and get the dog slowly used to that. After that, the trick is mostly getting the dog to put the ball inside the hole. Most dogs quickly start liking the game after that.

How do dog ball throwers work?

Most ball launchers use air pressure in some way. Automatic launchers for dogs usually work just like tennis ball launchers. They draw the air inside using a fan and then create air pressure to push the ball out at high speed. The launchers that you have to stomp on operate on the same principle - only without electricity.

Do dog ball launchers require special balls?

Most ball launchers work with standard tennis balls. However, some manufacturers make throwers that use balls in a different size. In that case, you’ll have to get balls in that specific size. Always make sure to follow the instructions of the manufacturer, otherwise the thrower can get damaged.

References
  1. Martin D, Campbell L, Ritchie M. 2017. “Problem Prevention”. In: Martin, D., Shaw, J., Eds. Canine and Feline Behavior for Veterinary Technicians and Nurses. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.: Chichester; pp. 145-203

6 Best Dog Puzzle Toys Australia (2021 Buyers Guide)

The Best Dog Puzzle Toys -
The Overview

Our #1 Pick

StarMark Bob-A-Lot Interactive Pet Toy

The Best Value for Money

StarMark Bob-A-Lot Interactive Pet Toy

  • Durable
  • Top reviews
  • Versatile

Puzzles are one of the best ways to keep our minds sharp. We have our sudoku, crosswords, and jigsaws. Dogs have snuffle mats, topple balls, and, well...jigsaws too!

As dogs age, puzzle toys are a great way of engaging their brain, defeating boredom, and improving cognitive function over time, making them at the top of the list of the best dog toy options.

One of my dogs was diagnosed with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CCDS) recently, which is more commonly known as dementia in dogs. (1) To get her brain going I have been researching and testing out puzzle toys myself, so we want to help you with your search too.

In this article, I’ll share with you what I have learned in the pursuit of keeping my dog’s brain ticking into her twilight years. We’ll go through the many types of puzzle toys available on the market before I give our recommendations for the best dog puzzle toys on the Australian market.

Belgian Shepherd playing with puzzle toys

What to Look for In A Great Puzzle Toy for Your Dog

Whilst searching for puzzle toys for my dog I learned a lot about the makings of a good puzzle, no matter what type of puzzle it is. Here are the criteria we recommend.

Choosing the right level of difficulty

Generally, when you choose a crossword sudoku puzzle to pass your Sunday afternoon, you know the level of difficulty you can handle. Too easy and you’ll find the puzzle boring and unsatisfying. Too difficult and you’ll probably end up ripping up the puzzle in a frustrated rage.

Your dog has the same patience for puzzles. It has got to match their skill level.

Another aspect of this to remember is that age rarely has anything to do with how clever your pup may be. Their level of intelligence is largely independent of age after your dog reaches 6 months. Don’t be surprised by this! I can’t be the only person who has meekly asked the child prodigy in the family to help me with the Sunday crossword.

It can be difficult to tell just how intelligent your dog may be. You can give them an IQ test but generally, it’s all quite hard to measure. (2)

To be safe, start with a beginner/intermediate puzzle and see how your dog gets on with it. If they solve the game quickly, then you’ll know you need to graduate to more advanced toys. That said, you can always keep this beginner’s piece in your collection for a quick game with your dog to lift their spirits and give them an easy win.

In theory, if you start puzzles young, you can increase the difficulty as they get faster and faster at solving the puzzle. After all, you still want it to be challenging for your dog. For senior dogs, you should still increase the difficulty but within reason. If you frustrate them too much, they’ll lose interest.

Durability

Puzzle toys for dogs are meant to used relatively often. They are known boredom busters and stress relievers so you’ll want to play these games with your dog at opportune times.

Maybe not every day, but your dog may want to play at least once per week. Let’s say at minimum your dog plays with their puzzle once per week all year. That is 52 doses of unyielding roughhousing as your dog attacks the toy to crack the code. They will take out their frustration when they can’t get it right. They will likely get it dirty over repeated use. And these toys are worth keeping in good condition for as long as possible.

To measure the durability of a toy, you’ll need to consider the materials of course. Most toys are made of plastic, but some are made of wood too. Wooden toys are hardy and sustainable, but harder to keep clean overall.

Snuffle mats are trickier to test in terms of hardiness. Generally, you get what you pay for with those. The cheap flimsy ones will fall apart quickly. Higher priced but higher quality mats have tighter stitching and stronger fabric. You’re also more likely to have a product that won’t dissolve in the wash.

Size

I have said it a thousand times and you are probably sick of it, but the pet industry has a huge sizeism problem. Small dogs are favoured. Large and extra-large breeds sare left with the crumbs of the pet care world.

So, you need to make sure that the puzzles you choose are adequately sized for your pooch in particular. This goes for overall size, weight, and strength as key factors in your choice.

A super-strong Staffie may make light work of a toy than a dainty Pomeranian would, so the toy you choose needs to suit their physiology just as much as their psychology.

Manufacturers are quite diligent in letting you know what size dog the product is suitable for.

I also advise having a read through the reviews as reviewers often mention the breed and size of their dogs which will help you make a decision.


The Different Types of Dog Puzzle Toys

There are many different types interactive toys, games and puzzles to get your dog’s brain dogs. The first thing to note is that all of them are treat or food dispensing toys in one way or another.

Cathay Madson of Preventative Vet notes “Feeding your dog out of a regular dog bowl is pretty boring. Dogs are natural foragers, so making them work for their bites of kibble is a great way to work their brain. If you have a dog that likes to inhale their food at record speeds, using an interactive puzzle for their meals is a great way to slow them down.” (3)

The objective of all of the following game types is to get the treats concealed behind a series of obstacles. The great difference between them is what obstacles they force your dog to face before receiving their prize.

They all require the use of different senses. Let’s break it all down.

Treat balls

A dog treat ball is a perfect beginner toy. The aim of the game is to stuff treats into the sides or interior of the toy and your dog has to try and release the treats.

Topple balls work using a specific toppling action to release treats slowly. On the other hand, treat-dispensing chew balls have the treats stuffed down the side, which requires less brain work but is still stimulating. Chew balls are also great for maintaining your dog’s teeth, making them one of the better dog chew toys available.

Tornado puzzles

Tornado puzzles are a special breed. They work by stacking a series of plastic components that spin or slide to reveal treats underneath. Your dog needs to use their paws or snout to spin the top component in the right direction to get to the first treat.

After getting to the first treat, they then need to spin the following components down the “tornado” to get to the treats at the lower levels.

It’s an intermediate level game and should provide good mental stimulation.

Snuffle mats

Snuffle mats are all about using your dog’s foraging skills. They need to follow their nose to snuff out the treats embedded in the tiny pockets of the fabric.

The fabric should be lightweight and easy to clean. Snuffle mats come in a range of different sizes, colours, and shapes.

Since most dogs should have quite sophisticated senses of smell, this is a relatively easy game to crack but is fun and stimulating all the same.

Composite games

Composite games are very much like our own jigsaw puzzles but with one major difference - instead of building a picture from scratch, your dog needs to slide or spin certain elements to solve the puzzle.

Moving the right pieces will reveal the treats hidden within. Composite games are the most scalable in terms of the level of difficulty.

Beginner puzzles have very few pieces to move whereas some are as complex as sudoku. It all depends on your dog’s level of genius.


Best Dog Treat Puzzles 2021 Reviewed

We have gone through what to look for and the various types of puzzles your dog may enjoy. Let’s jump into our favourites on the market. We tried to have a good mix of different types of toys of different sizes and at various skill levels. I hope this round-up of dog treat toys is helpful for you.

StarMark Bob-A-Lot Interactive Pet Toy

What sets this product apart from the rest?

  • Durable
  • Top reviews
  • Versatile

It was tough to choose a “best overall” category when it comes to puzzle games because of the various different types of dog games and the many factors that just depend on your dog. So, when making this choice, I thought of the most universal toy that is accessible and fun for dogs of all sizes and IQs. The StarMark Bob-A-Lot ticks those boxes.

It is a food dispensing ball that is a little more complex than a chew ball. This one is a topple ball that is sure to provide hours of entertainment.

The trick is that your dog needs to tip the ball in a certain way to release the food. Therefore, your dog is getting some exercise around the house.

Topple balls like this one are perfect for beginners. To increase the difficulty, you can adjust the openings and place the food or treats in different sections of the toy. That means you can scale the difficulty level for a while with the same toy! Great investment.

StarMark make this toy in two sizes: small and large. Most breeds should be able to get on well with this toy and the reviews attest to its toughness.

Versatile. Durable. Well reviewed. This is our very top choice for dog puzzle toys.

Verified Review - 14/04/2021
Great Treat Puzzle
"My dog loves these sorts of treat puzzles and I love that this one has 2 size adjustable holes. I like that it is weighted because it differentiates it from anther toy I have but it does make more noise when my dog pushes it up against something (like a wall or the fridge).

I did leave the top open to see if she could get the food out of the hole in the top but my dog chewed on it - although managed to catch early enough that I can still do the top up. Overall, it makes a regular appearance."

Pros

Cons

  • Durable
  • Hard to clean
  • Top reviews
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  • Versatile
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#2: Budget Friendly: Anything Pets Dog Chew Ball

  • Variety of colours
  • Non-toxic rubber
  • Chew-proof
  • Budget-friendly

For the budget-friendly award, I also wanted to recommend a simple beginner toy.

The Anything Pets Chew Ball fits that bill perfectly.

This is the perfect initial toy just to get your dog into the habit of using puzzle feeders.

You stuff the sides of the toy with treats or kibble and your dog has the joy of kicking it around or chewing on it to release the goods. Sounds almost too simple but honestly, your dog will find it so much fun!

Made of soft non-toxic rubber, this toy is durable and chew-proof. The tooth-like corrugated sides also have the benefit of helping to clean and maintain your dog’s teeth.

We love the range of bright, bold colours this model comes in: blue, green, yellow, red, and a cool duo-tone style too. 

The con with this little toy is exactly that… it’s little. This tiny toy is only 7cm in diameter which may not be suitable for large and extra-large breeds. It is certainly too small to hold large kibble so only small morsels can be stuffed into the sides.

Being so inexpensive, it is a wonderful starting point for puppies to join the puzzle-loving club.

Verified Review - 17/03/2021
Perfect
"My puppy loves this especially when i leave to go to work. I give it to him and he walks away with it happy."

Pros

Cons

  • Variety of colours
  • Only comes in one small size
  • Non-toxic rubber
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  • Chew-proof
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  • Budget-friendly
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#3: Most Versatile: Sniffiz SmellyUFO

Sniffiz SmellyUFO
  • Two difficulty levels
  • Durable
  • Non-toxic materials
  • Easy to clean

Sticking with the treat ball train, let’s talk about the Sniffiz Smelly UFO.

This toy is great for its versatility. It can be used as a fast-paced fun game and exerciser or a slow feeder.

This is a topple treat ball for dogs with a difference - the disk shape makes it fun to slide across the floor and tilt the interior maze. There are two difficulty levels. On one side you have the easy maze and the other side has the more challenging maze.

The Smelly UFO is made of non-toxic rubber and tough plastic so it is completely indestructible dog toy. The manufacturer reportedly tested out the toy with over 20 breeds of all shapes and sizes to make sure it won’t crack under pressure.

A huge plus of this toy is the ability to open it fully to give it a good clean. Treat balls can be tough to clean. By popping this one open, you can get into the folds for a thorough scrub. It is even dishwasher safe!

We are a little disappointed it only comes in one size. It is about 17cm in diameter. That isn’t too bad in terms of suitability for large breeds but it would have been nice for Sniffiz to make a slightly larger size too for larger paws, teeth, and treats.

At a decent price point and adjustable openings for difficulty, your pup will love the endless fun of this magical treat-dispensing UFO.

Pros

Cons

  • Two difficulty levels
  • Only comes in one size
  • Durable
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  • Non-toxic materials
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  • Easy to clean
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#4: Most Challenging: My Intelligent Pets Dog' SUDOKU

My Intelligent Pets Dog' SUDOKU
  • Challenging
  • Made of wood
  • Good reviews

Maybe you know that your dog is super smart or they already have experience with puzzles. It’s time to really challenge them. My Intelligent Pets makes a great line of varying puzzle toys for dogs. The one I want to highlight today is the sudoku game.

This dog sudoku game has 15 sliding pieces that your dog needs to strategically move to find the hidden treats below. It takes a keen sense of smell and patience to work out how to get to the treats. Incredible mental stimulation and reward for your pup.

The toy is made of wood. That is good for sustainability reasons however it may take more of a beating if your dog decides to chew on it. It can be cleaned with a damp cloth.

 This isn’t a game that you can leave your dog to play alone. I suggest supervision to stop them from destroying it. Highly engaging, challenging toys like this are always best with your constant encouragement anyway. Treat balls are less high maintenance - you can leave your dog to play with these whilst you are away from home. Sudoku takes a watchful eye. It’s a great vehicle for bonding with your dog because of that.

This game is best for small to medium dogs. Large and extra-large dogs will likely find the pieces too small.

Finally, let’s touch on the difficulty here. I don’t know about you but sudoku has always been a challenge for me. As a born linguist, anything with numbers just looked like another language to me. I warn you that this game will be just as maddening to your pup if they aren’t ready for it.

Verified Review - 18/03/2021
Excellent Dog Treat Puzzle
"Both our dogs like it. They are not fully mastering it yet, but they might get there very soon. They are still careful and considerate, by not using their paws yet. They will probably learn that it is safe to do so soon. Very sturdy and elegant. Plastic is the way to go. Great service and fast delivery to BC, Canada."

Pros

Cons

  • Challenging
  • Not suitable for large or extra-large breeds
  • Made of wood
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  • Good reviews
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#5: Best Snuffle Mat for Dogs: Petvins Dog Snuffle Mat

Petvins Dog Snuffle Mat
  • Comes in multiple sizes
  • Good for disabled and senior dogs
  • Machine-washable

Switching gears, we have a great recommendation for a puzzle mat! The Petvins Dog Snuffle Mat is the perfect package for this type of toy.

It is colourful, large, interactive, and fun. There are various flaps and folds on this treat blanket to hide kibble that your dog will enjoy sniffing out.

The Petvins mat is made of a machine-washable fleece, backed with a non-slip bottom pad. This makes the product easy to clean and maintain.

It comes in four sizes and three different colourways making it the most customisable purchase on this list.

This is an ideal toy for senior or disabled dogs as it is a flat comfy fabric with no hard corners. It also doesn’t require a lot of exercise to use like treat balls do.

Snuffle mats are also amazing for all levels of difficulty. It’s a simple puzzle to solve but is still entertaining to super-genius dogs.

The con is that this is not ideal for chewers. If left unattended they could tear it up. That’s not to say you can’t use this mat with your puppy. It will withstand normal use. It probably won’t withstand long unattended hours of your dog devouring it though.

Overall, if you want a snuffle mat, this is a wonderful choice.

Pros

Cons

  • Comes in multiple sizes
  • Not ideal for unattended chewers
  • Good for disabled and senior dogs
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  • Machine-washable
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#6: Best Boredom Buster: Nina Ottoson Dog Tornado

Nina Ottoson Dog Tornado
  • Good reviews
  • Easy to clean
  • Intermediate skill level

Finally, the last game we are recommending is a tornado puzzle. The Nina Ottoson Dog Tornado to be exact!

Nina Ottoson has an incredible range of toys of all skill levels which we are huge fans of. Today’s pick is the Tornado because it is a great boredom buster for your pooch.

If you find that your dog is listless or even destructive around the house due to boredom, this is the toy for you.

The design is perfect for engaging your doggie’s brain. The twist and turns reveal treats as they progress. It’s a rewarding game to play and truly the Goldilocks of puzzle toys; not too easy or too hard.

At 24 x 18cm it is a decent size. Many breeds will be able to enjoy this toy. It is made of hardy, easy to clean plastic too.

For the ultimate boredom fighting product, the Nina Ottosson is a wonderful pick.

Verified Review - 25/04/2021
Good Quality Dog Game
"Clever design which requires dog to push the trays around to uncover the treats. Have only given four stars as it is easy for my dog to push the whole thing around while trying to push the trays. Could do with being heavier or with heavy duty rubber feet. Feels like it will last well, but time will tell, however would highly recommend to stimulate your dog's mental enrichment."

Pros

Cons

  • Good reviews
  • Not chew-proof
  • Easy to clean
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  • Intermediate skill level
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Final Verdict: Best Treat Dispensing Dog Toys

For a wonderful introductory toy that will suit breeds of all shapes and sizes, the StarMark wins a million times over.

As a personal favourite though, the Petvins Snuffle Mat has been a great addition to my dog’s life. Though she may be losing her faculties, she really enjoys snuffling out treats on this colourful, entertaining mat. Doggy dementia approved!

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

FAQ

How do you mentally stimulate a dog?

Puzzles are not the only way of providing mental stimulation for your dog. (4) Here is a list of other ideas:

  • Rotating toys
  • Physical exercise
  • Setting up play dates with other dogs (if it is safe to do so)
  • Agility training
  • Learning new tricks
  • Changing the walking routes

Are puzzles good for dogs?

Yes! Mental stimulation is essential to your dog’s overall health and wellbeing.

Nicole Ellis from the American Kennel Club writes, “As a trainer, I’ve learned that many of the hyperactivity and destruction problems my clients struggle with can be resolved by adding mental exercise to their dog’s daily diet. Excessive barking, destroying the house, destroying toys, eating socks — all of those things have gone away after the owner starts to give the dog mentally stimulating activities.” (5)


Using puzzles is also a good source of mental stimulation for dogs with dementia like my dog. (6)

References
  1. Cohan, M. June 7, 2018. “Recognizing and Managing Dog Dementia”. Hill’s Pet. Retrieved November 15, 2020. https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/healthcare/managing-dog-dementia-canine-cognitive-disorder
  2. Dodman, N. March 29, 2016. “How Smart is Your Puppy?”. Pet Place. Retrieved November 15, 2020. https://www.petplace.com/article/dogs/pet-care/how-smart-is-your-puppy/
  3. Madson, C. August 30, 2019. “10 Boredom Busters for Your Dog”. Preventative Vet. Retrieved November 15, 2020. https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/boredom-busters-for-your-bored-dog
  4. “10 Ways to Mentally Stimulate Your Dog”. Pet Coach Editorial. Retrieved November 15, 2020. https://www.petcoach.co/article/10-ways-to-stimulate-your-dog-s-brain/
  5. Ellis, N. January 1, 2019. “A Mentally Stimulated Dog Is a Happy Dog”. American Kennel Club. Retrieved November 15, 2020.  https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/mentally-stimulated-happy-dog/
  6. Cain, M. & Cain, S. October, 2017. Updated February, 2020. “Canine Dementia — Signs, Symptoms, Treatments”. The Bark. Retrieved November 15, 2020.  https://thebark.com/content/canine-dementia-signs-symptoms-treatments

10 Best Dog Toys Australia (2021 Buyers Guide)

The Best Dog Toys Australia -
The Overview

Our #1 Pick

KONG Classic Dog Toy

The Best Value for Money

KONG Classic Dog Toy

  • Perfect fetch toy
  • Great for teething dogs
  • Can be stuffed with treats
  • Comes in a variety of sizes

All dogs deserve toys! We can agree on that. Get your canine companion the right toys to play with, and you’ll provide them with comfort, entertainment, and exercise.

Guess what you could get if they don’t get toys that provide the above, destructive behaviour.

No one wants that, and that is why we’ve compiled a list of best dog toys available, accompanied with a guide on how to choose the right one. If this sparks your interest, keep reading!

staffordshire bull terrier playing with toys

Buying Dog Toys Online: How to Choose the Right Toy for Your Dog

When shopping online, it can be quite difficult to find good dog toys. Sure, there are plenty of options available, but it is difficult to know which ones are made from high-quality materials, and which ones are unsafe and will fall apart in a matter of hours. Here are some guidelines to help you choose the right toy for your canine companion:

Materials and Safety Concerns

It may surprise you to know there are currently no mandatory safety standards for pet toys in Australia. This means there will be many toys on the market that do not have the durability and quality needed to be played with vigorously by our pets.” - RSPCA

What this means is that you are on your own when choosing options. Many dogs will play with just about anything, but it is important to pay attention to the materials the toys are made of. However, this is easier said than done. One way to go about this is to choose only well-known and respected manufacturers. If thousands of dogs have played with said toy before and there were no ill effects, it should be safe to presume that your dog will be fine too.

Unfortunately, there are still many unresolved issues when it comes to materials for dog toys. For example, almost everything these days contains BPA. Now, while BPA will not kill your dog, there are still some concerns about it. One of the first studies related to BPA and dogs concluded that small amounts of the chemicals can in fact end up in the dog’s gastrointestinal system (1).

A more recent study showed that BPA can cause changes in the dog’s microbiome, although it also indicated the bigger cause for concern is dogs ingesting BPA through food, than through toys, since the amount of BPA they can ingest from toys is quite minuscule (3).

In short, while toys containing BPA are not a complete no-no, it’s still a good idea to steer clear of it when possible, as well as any other mystery chemicals.

Choose the Right Size

One thing that is often overlooked when shopping for fun dog toys is the importance of choosing the right size. If you choose a toy that is too big, the worst thing that can happen is that your dog won’t be able to use it as intended and lose interest as a consequence.

However, if you choose a toy that is too small there is danger that the dog might swallow it - and this is definitely not good. For the same reason, you should be cautious about toys that contain small parts. Anything that your dog can easily swallow is not a good option. If this does happen, consult your vet immediately.

Supervision is Important

There is no surefire way to know if your dog will destroy their new toy or know how to play with it. Some dogs can be incredibly caring about their toys, while others try to chew right through them. For this reason, it is important to supervise, especially when introducing a new toy.


Dog Toys Australia 2021: Our Top Picks

Now it’s time for the interesting part! We searched the ocean of dog toys available online and we found some real gems. Your pooch will surely love one of those!

#1: Best Overall: KONG Classic Dog Toy

KONG Classic Dog Toy

What sets this product apart from the rest?

  • Perfect fetch toy
  • Great for teething dogs
  • Can be stuffed with treats
  • Comes in a variety of sizes

Although KONG now makes a variety of quality toys for dogs and cats, what they are really known for is this oddly-shaped toy. Despite the strange shape, the KONG original toy has gained immense popularity all across the world. So why is that?

Well, this KONG is one of the most well-made toys ever. It’s durable, it’s multifunctional, and it keeps the dog happy. First of all, the KONG is the perfect fetch toy. When you throw it, it bounces unpredictably due to the shape, which keeps dogs interested. Moreover, you can stuff the toy with treats, peanut butter, or whatever else they like - which keeps your dog’s attention on the toy. Finally, this is a toy that can withstand quite a bit of chewing and will not fall apart easily.

Related: What To Put In A Dog Kong Toy?

The KONG is also available in a variety of sizes, so you can definitely find one that will be perfect for your dog. The toy is also available in different versions - there is extra hard rubber, a perfect chew toy for extreme chewers and softer versions for seniors and puppies.

Verified Review - 21/03/2021
Excellent For Power Chewers
"Excellent for power chewers. It holds up to my strong Labrador very well with repeated use. Grab yourself a bottle cleaner as well to help with cleaning the inside of the Kong. I have one for each day of the week to make things easy."

Pros

Cons

  • Perfect fetch toy
  • Finding the right size can be a bit tricky
  • Great for teething dogs
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  • Can be stuffed with treats
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  • Comes in a variety of sizes
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Below you’ll find other versions of the KONG toy:


#2: Budget Pick: Hartz Dura Play Dog Toy

Hartz Dura Play Dog Toy
  • Comes in a variety of shapes and sizes
  • Lightweight (it also floats)
  • Great value for money

Quality dog toys are nice to have, but they can get quite expensive too. Well, this toy from Hartz solves the issue. Their toys are well-made, versatile, and come at quite an affordable price.

Hartz Dura Play toys are made with natural latex on the outside. The external layer is quite firm which makes it durable. However, unlike toys that are made completely out of rubber which makes them quite heavy, the Dura Play toys have a soft lightweight foam on the inside. The result is a very squishy object that is firm on the outside.

Moreover, Hartz lets you choose the shape of your toy. They make a ball, a bone, and a rocket - all of them have the same features, just a different shape. They also come in a variety of sizes so you can always find one that is perfect for a canine companion. All their toys have a squeaker inside and smell like bacon which really helps get the dog acquainted with the new toy.

Verified Review - 24/09/2020
Great Value
"Toy is made of really nice soft rubber, great for playing fetch indoors. The squeak is not too loud (always a bonus!). Seems to be quite durable as puppy hasn't ripped it to bits yet. Really good size for small dogs 3-6kgs. I also bought the small ball as well which is equally as good."

Pros

Cons

  • Comes in a variety of shapes and sizes
  • Not for extreme chewers
  • Lightweight (it also floats)
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  • Great value for money
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#3: Best Ball For Dogs: Aussie Dog Enduro Ball

Aussie Dog Enduro Ball
  • Innovative design