Border Collie Puppy with Toy

The Top Toys For Dogs Home Alone - Keeping Them Entertained

Our #1 Pick

KONG Extreme Dog Toy

The Best Overall

KONG Extreme Dog Toy

  • Practically indestructible
  • Multiple layer, high-quality memory & orthopedic foam base  
  • Can be stuffed with treats and snacks for an added challenge
  • Five sizes available
  • Made with quality natural rubber

There comes a time in every pet parent’s life when the dog needs to stay home alone. This can be a stressful time for both: some canines suffer from separation anxiety, and so do humans sometimes.

But, we know how to deal with our worries, for dogs, it’s not that easy. Dogs who are frustrated when left alone exhibit all sorts of problematic behaviour, including incessant whining and destructive chewing. What can we do to help them? Sometimes, the answer is simple: just provide enough entertainment. This guide will cover everything you need to know about toys for dogs home alone.


What Toys Can I Leave for My Dog Home Alone?

As a courtesy of the pandemic, many of us have been spending a lot of time at home, with our canine companions practically never leaving our sides. For some, it might be time to get back to the office or school and start spending much more time outside again without our dogs. The change in routine is not only noticeable for us, but also our furry friends.

And every time we start leaving our dogs home alone, it can take time to get used to it. Sometimes, these problems can progress into full-blown separation anxiety, but most of the time the problem can be solved with some training and care.

“It’s much easier to use management for separation-related behaviours that are triggered by boredom or a lack of supervision than those caused by true separation anxiety. Both prognoses can improve immensely from increased enrichment and exercise. (A tired dog makes for a happy owner!)” - Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, Whole Dog Journal (1)

The root cause of most destructive behaviour when a dog is left alone is boredom. So how do we stop that? Well, of course, with dog entertainment toys.

Types of Home Alone Toys

What works for one dog does not always work for another (2). Not every dog can be left alone with the same toys, but these are some of the options:

  • Treat dispensers. Treat dispensing toys come in many shapes and sizes. From chew toys with a hole in the middle, like the KONG, to various shapes and forms that slowly dispense treats to keep your dog entertained.
  • Slow feeders. Slow feeding mats and especially snuffle mats are a great way to keep your dog entertained - at least for a while.
  • Puzzle toys. Puzzle toys can be a great way to provide mental stimulation for your dog. The main problem with many of them is the presence of small pieces, which is something we don’t recommend leaving around dogs who are alone. 
  • Sensory toys. These days, there are many toys available that are designed to stimulate your dog’s senses. These toys make a variety of sounds, blink with different lights, or roll around. Some of them you can even control with your smartphone.

In short, when leaving your dog home alone, it’s best to find an interactive toy that will keep your pooch entertained for a long time. What exactly will it be? It highly depends on a dog's personality and habits. For example, dogs that tend to express their frustration by chewing will probably do best with a tough chew toy that also dispenses treats (3).


About Safety and Finding the Right Toy

The key to successfully providing toys for your dog when they are home alone is determining which toys are fun for them and which are safe. The only way you will ever be able to ascertain this is by watching your dog.

In short, every new toy you introduce should be used under supervision at first. For example, some dogs enjoy playing gently with stuffed toys, but some power chewers will take those apart in seconds. In the first case, it is probably safe to leave the dog alone with the toy. In the second case, it isn’t as the dog could choke on the tiny pieces of the destroyed stuffed animal.

This is the main danger with most toys. Will your dog be able to destroy the toy, and if so, will the toy become dangerous? Along these lines, it’s probably best to avoid any toys with small pieces that can be swallowed when the dog is home alone.


Best Home Alone Dog Toy 2022: Our Top Picks

So what options are there really for doggie home entertainment? Here are some interesting toys that could work:

#1: Best Overall: KONG Extreme Dog Toy

KONG Extreme Dog Toy

What sets this product apart from the rest?

  • Practically indestructible
  • Can be stuffed with treats and snacks for an added challenge
  • Five sizes available
  • Made with quality natural rubber

With five decades in the business, KONG mastered making durable dog toys. While most of their toys are designed to be sturdy and long-lasting, the extreme version of the KONG dog toy brings the game to another level.

The KONG Extreme is available in sizes ranging from S to XXL. That means that no matter how small or big your canine companion is, there’ll be a suitable size available.

The KONG Extreme Dog Toy being tested by our independent expert team.

KONG Extreme Dog Toy being tested by our review team.

This toy is designed for those hardcore chewers that have managed to destroy every single “durable” toy so far. Well, it’s time to put a stop to that. The KONG Extreme is made of natural rubber that’s simply impossible to chew through. You can leave your destructive pooch to play with it while you’re gone without worrying, you’ll come home to yet another torn-down toy.

Since it’s made of natural rubber, it’s no surprise this toy is rather bouncy. But its odd shape makes it bounce in unexpected directions, so you can be sure your dog will be enticed to play with it for many hours. To make playtime even more exciting, you can stuff the toy with kibble or peanut butter. This will keep your pooch occupied for a long time.

Verified Review - 3/04/2019
My puppies favourite toy!
"I have a miniature poodle puppy who is currently teething. She loves this kong and the extreme version is perfect for her chewing tendencies. She's currently >2kg and it's the perfect size for her to be able to carry around."

Pros

Cons

  • Practically indestructible
  • Finding the right size can be difficult
  • Can be stuffed with treats and snacks for an added challenge
  • Five sizes available
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  • Made with quality natural rubber
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Pet Qwerks The Talking Babble Ball
  • Makes over 20 different sounds
  • Automatically turns on and off
  • Very durable
  • Available in three sizes
  • Keeps the dog entertained

We might not speak the same language, but it’s pretty clear that our dogs understand us. Let’s be real, what pooch doesn’t like to be called a good boy or a girl? With an interactive dog toy like this Talking Babble Ball from Pet Qwerks, they’ll get to hear that even when they’re home alone.

This toy talks, growls and interacts with your dog. It makes more than 20 different sounds, including sayings like “come here puppy!” There’s no button to turn it on. As long as the ball is rolling, it will continuously invite your pooch to play with it. This makes it a great toy for dogs with impaired sight too.

The Pet Qwerks The Talking Babble Ball being tested by our independent expert team.

Pet Qwerks The Talking Babble Ball being tested by our review team.

The Babble Ball runs on three button cell batteries, which come included with the package. After your canine companion gets tired and lays down, the ball will automatically turn off until it’s touched again.

The toy comes in three sizes, so you can find one suitable for your pooch. Make sure you get a ball that’s bigger than your dog’s mouth to avoid unwanted accidents. The toy is made of durable ABS plastic, so you don’t have to worry about your dog chewing it through. While not indestructible, it can endure some tough chewing.

Verified Review - 17/03/2022helped
It has helped up to my 80kg English Mastiff Puppy!
"My puppy loves it so much that I bought another for his cousin and she loves it!"

Pros

Cons

  • Makes over 20 different sounds
  • Not suitable for timid dogs
  • Automatically turns on and off
  • Electronics inside
  • Very durable
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  • Available in three sizes
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  • Keeps the dog entertained
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SNiFFiz SmellyUFO Durable Interactive Treat Dispensing Puzzle
  • Unpredictable movement
  • Adjustable dispensing openings
  • Can withstand heavy chewing
  • Dishwasher-safe

We can all agree that our dogs are motivated somewhat by treats. And treats would work great for keeping them occupied while we’re not home, if they weren’t such fast eaters. Well, there’s a solution to that as well. It’s called an interactive treat-dispensing toy, and SmellyUFO is one of the best out there.

The toy is shaped like a UFO, hence the name. The odd shape makes it move in unexpected ways. It can roll, spin and flip, so rest assured your pooch will be entertained for a long time. The toy has two large mazes and adjustable dispensing openings. This means you can make it more or less challenging for your canine companion.

The SmellyUFO is a quite durable toy. The inner part is made of hard plastics while the body is made of rubber-like materials, so it can withstand tough chewing. At the same time, it’s gentle on your dog’s teeth and gums. The toy is also easy to clean. All parts can be disassembled and placed on the top rack of your washing machine.

Verified Review - 29/03/2022
Loves it already
"My dog is very hyper. It’s hard to find toys that keep her entertained and don’t break or rip apart in the first 5 minutes. This toy!!! She’s been trying to destroy this toy for almost an hour and is having a blast! Worth it!"

Pros

Cons

  • Unpredictable movement
  • Only comes in one size
  • Adjustable dispensing openings
  • Can withstand heavy chewing
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  • Dishwasher-safe
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#4: Best Food Incentive Toy: Kingtree Snuffle Mat for Dog

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  • Also works as a feeding bowl
  • Non-skid bottom
  • Drawstring for adjusting the size
  • Machine washable

If your pooch turns into a vacuum when it comes to food, then a snuffle mat might be what you need. In fact, it kills two birds with one stone. Not only does it slow down mealtime, but it also keeps your dog occupied for quite some time while you’re away.

A snuffle mat works on a simple principle. It consists of long pieces of fabric attached to a mat to mimic grass and similar terrain, where you can hide treats and kibble. The snuffle mat wakes up your pooch’s natural instinct to track, sniff and burrow. Basically, your pooch gets to play hide and seek with treats. And since 10 minutes of sniffing are as tiring as an hour of running, you can bet your canine companion will sleep like a baby afterwards.

The Kingtree Snuffle Mat for Dog being tested by our independent expert team.

Kingtree Snuffle Mat for Dog being tested by our review team.

This mat features a drawstring, so you can tighten it up to force your dog to eat slowly. The fabric pieces are made of felt cloth, which is non-toxic and difficult to tear. The bottom is made of waterproof oxford cloth, so you don’t have to worry about food leaking through. It also has a non-slip design, so your pooch won’t move it around while sniffing. It’s also machine washable, so you can easily remove any food leftover.

Verified Review - 13/01/2022
Keeps My Dog Interested!
"I have the best dog ever, until it comes to food! My dog wants to please everyone, and enjoys everything life has to offer, except he has always been fussy with his eating. He will not eat dry kibble, or anything of that nature. I bought the Snuffle Mat as I am always trying to make his food more interesting/palatable, and this works a treat(pardon the pun. I sprinkle his dry food in there, add some kind of treat as well(at the moment he is eating salmon sticks) and he eats everything up! The best part is that it keeps him engaged and interested for at least 15 minutes.This works very well for our guy!"

Pros

Cons

  • Also works as a feeding bowl
  • Not suitable for chewers
  • Non-skid bottom
  • Drawstring for adjusting the size
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  • Machine washable
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iFetch Interactive Mini Tennis Ball Launcher
  • Can be used both indoors and outdoors
  • Three distance options
  • Comes with three balls
  • Features rubber feet to keep it in place

Just because you’re not home, that doesn’t mean your pooch has no one to play with. That’s also true even if your dog’s favourite game is fetch. At least not since the automatic iFetch ball launcher appeared on the market.

The model that made it to our list is a mini version, which is suitable for small and medium dogs. But if you own a large pooch, don’t worry. There’s also the iFetchToo, which is designed with large dogs in mind.

The iFetch Interactive Mini Tennis Ball Launcher being tested by our independent expert team.

iFetch Interactive Mini Tennis Ball Launcher being tested by our review team.

The iFetch uses balls that are 3.8 centimetres in diameter. They’re smaller than the regular tennis ball, but the product comes with a stack of three. What makes this launcher ideal for dogs that are home alone is that they can use it by themselves! They just need to throw the ball into the funnel and the machine will launch it for your pooch to fetch.

Another great thing about this launcher is that you can use it both indoors and outdoors, as long as you have enough room. There are three distance options: 3, 6 and 9 meters, so you can set it up according to the free space you have. You can either plug the launcher into the electrical outlet or run it on 6 C-cell batteries that you have to buy separately.

Verified Review - 29/12/2021
Great machine; terrible balls
"My pup loves to play with the machine. The balls are not great, they last maybe one play session."

Pros

Cons

  • Can be used both indoors and outdoors
  • Rather pricey
  • Three distance options
  • Comes with three balls
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  • Features rubber feet to keep it in place
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SKYMEE Fury Bone Smart Interactive Pet Toy
  • Different movement and speed options
  • Manual and automatic mode
  • Quick charge
  • Easy to clean

Who says your dog can’t stay occupied when you’re away? Nowadays you can find some cool automatic toys that interact with your pet without you operating them. The Fury Bone by SKYMEE is a great example of such a toy.

This toy can be operated via phone app when you’re in Bluetooth range, but there’s an automatic mode for when you’re away. The bone-shaped toy can do nine different moves, including backward flips and rolling. On auto mode, it responds based on how your pooch reacts to it. It’s a robotic play buddy to your furry friend. It runs on a battery that’s rechargeable with a Micro USB cable.

The SKYMEE Fury Bone Smart Interactive Pet Toy being tested by our independent expert team.

SKYMEE Fury Bone Smart Interactive Pet Toy being tested by our review team.

The Fury Bone is also great for outdoor play. It can move at three different movement speeds, the fastest being 3 m/s. This means it can also satisfy your canine companion’s hunting instincts. Plus, it flashes in different colours, and what dog doesn’t like flashy things?

The main worry, of course, is the possibility of the dog destroying the toy while you are away. The Fury Bone is made of ABS plastics, which is quite sturdy, but not indestructible. For small dogs, though, the toy should be safe even when they are left alone.

This robot bone is also very easy to clean. Just remove the wheels and wash them with soap and warm water. And in case your pooch chews through them, the brand offers a replacement service.

Verified Review - 30/10/2021
A good toy
"This toy is very good and very flexible and easy to control. I believe my puppy will like it very much."

Pros

Cons

  • Different movement and speed options
  • Somewhat expensive
  • Manual and automatic mode
  • Quick charge
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  • Easy to clean
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#7: Best For Outdoor Play: Aussie Dog Home Alone Toy

Aussie Dog Home Alone Toy
  • Can be used both indoors and outdoors
  • Virtually indestructible
  • The ball can dispense treats
  • Available in four sizes

If you leave your canine companion outside while you’re away, there’s always a chance of coming home to an excavated yard. Dogs tend to become destructive while bored, but that doesn’t have to be the case with your pooch. Not if you set up a bungee toy by Aussie Dog.

This toy is great for any dog that likes playing tug of war. It’s designed to be hung on a tree, pergola, beam or any other sturdy object. It has a bungee strap, so the toy springs up as your pooch pulls on it, encouraging playtime. The toy also features a ball with an internal rattle, so it makes noise while your canine companion is playing. You can also add treats or kibble to it, and it will dispense during playtime.

The Aussie Dog Home Alone Toy being tested by our independent expert team.

Aussie Dog Home Alone Toy being tested by our review team.

You don’t need to worry about leaving your pooch to play with this toy alone, because it’s practically indestructible. The loop the dog bites on is made of a fire hose, which speaks volumes of its durability. This specific bungee toy is designed to withstand dogs that weigh between 10 and 30 kilograms. But there are three more sizes available, so you can surely find the one suitable for your dog.

Verified Review - 3/11/2021
THE best toy
"We had one for our older dog and she loved it! THE best toy that can be used independently of a human."

Pros

Cons

  • Can be used both indoors and outdoors
  • You need something sturdy to hang the toy from
  • Virtually indestructible
  • The ball can dispense treats
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  • Available in four sizes
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Final Verdict

The best toy for dogs home alone? The KONG classic toy is the number one most recommended toy for dogs home alone. The main reason for this is the fact that the toy is safe and can be stuffed with treats for added entertainment.

On the other hand, if your canine companion is not the type to be stimulated by treats (rare, but they do exist), perhaps opt for a toy that provides sensory stimulation like the Pet Qwerks Babble Ball.

FAQ

Is it cruel to leave a dog alone all day?

Well, it is, to an extent. Leaving a dog home alone all day every day is not a very humane thing to do. However, very few people can stay home with their dogs every day, so a longer period of time alone once in a while is not the end of the world.

How long can you leave your dog alone?

It is typically not recommended to leave a dog home alone for more than 4 to 6 hours. Many pet parents do get away with leaving the dog alone for 8 hours while they are at work, but that situation is not ideal. Dogs should have at least a short walk every 6 hours.

What toys can a dog be left alone with?

This highly depends on the personality and habits of the dog. Some canines are more destructive than others, and the only way you can learn about this is by first introducing any new toys under supervision. In general, it is best to leave dogs alone with tough toys that are not easily destroyed.

Do Kongs help with separation anxiety?

The Kong Company claims that their toys can help with separation anxiety. Does a stuffed Kong help calm nervous dogs? Yes, it does. Will it cure full-blown separation anxiety? Well, in that case, a toy might not be enough. In any case, it doesn’t do any harm so it's worth a try.

References

  1. Miller, P. May 18, 2020. “Amicable Separation: How To Help Your Dog Deal With Separation Anxiety When You Return To The Office”. Whole Dog Journal. Retrieved March 28, 2022. https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/behavior/amicable-separation-when-leaving-your-dog-again/
  2. Watson, E. July 19, 2018 “Why interactive toys are good for your dog”. Animal Wellness Magazine. Retrieved March 29, 2022. https://animalwellnessmagazine.com/interactive-toys-2/
  3. PetMD Editorial. August 7, 2018. “10 Pet Safety Tips For When Your Dog is Home Alone”. PetMD. Retrieved March 29. 2022. https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/behavioral/c_dg_separation_anxiety
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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