The 6 Top Toys For Dogs Home Alone: Tested & Evaluated 2023
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, while 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.
We partnered with veterinarians, canine behaviourists and dog parents alike to form a team of independent experts. We then researched the top toys for dogs home alone, all in an effort to find the best of the best. After months of trial and error, we were finally able to agree on this list. Let's dive in.
Quick Picks - The Top 3
Our Number 1 Pick -
KONG Classic Dog Toy
- Practically indestructible
- Can be stuffed with treats and snacks for an added challenge
- Five sizes available
- Made with quality natural rubber
Runner Up -
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
Third Choice -
SNiFFiz SmellyUFO Durable Interactive Treat Dispensing Puzzle
- Unpredictable movement
- Adjustable dispensing openings
- Can withstand heavy chewing
Australia's Best Home Alone Dog Toys Reviewed
So what options are there really for doggie home entertainment? Our panel of independent experts spent months tracking down and testing the best toys to have on hand when you leave your dog home alone. Here are some interesting toys that could work:
What sets this product apart from the rest?
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 our team of independent experts' canine companions were, there was a suitable size available for them to play with.
The KONG Extreme Dog Toy being tested by our independent expert 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.
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.
The Babble Ball runs on three button cell batteries, which come included with the package. After my canine companion got tired and layed down, the ball automatically turned off until it’s touched again.
Related: The Best Dog Subscription Box Australia.
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 as indestructible as the KONG product in our number one spot, it can endure some tough chewing.
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. Similar to our number one choice, 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 I was able to make it more or less challenging for my 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. Everyone on our team of independent experts appreciated how the toy is also easy to clean. All parts can be disassembled and placed on the top rack of your washing machine.
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, I can assure you that your canine companion will sleep like a baby afterwards.
The Kingtree Snuffle Mat for Dog being tested by our independent expert 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. Since it’s machine washable, you can easily remove any food leftover without the hassle.
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.
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.
It's similar to our number three choice but instead of dispensing treats, it dispenses balls.
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.
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.
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, like our toy in spot number two, which is quite sturdy, but not indestructible. For small dogs, though, the toy should be safe even when they are left alone.
I was happy that this robot bone is also very easy to clean. I just had to 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.
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. It's like our number three and our number five toy choices, combined!
The Aussie Dog Home Alone Toy being tested by our independent expert 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 everyone on our expert panel loved how there are three more sizes available, so you can surely find the one suitable for your dog.
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.
Related: Boredom Busters For Dogs.
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 that worked best for our team of independent experts:
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).
How To Determine If Dog Toys Are Safe For Unsupervised Play
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.
My Final Verdict
The best toy for dogs home alone? The KONG classic toy is the number one most recommended toy for dogs home alone per our team of independent experts. 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), we suggest you opt for a toy that provides sensory stimulation like the Pet Qwerks Babble Ball.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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/
- 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/
- 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