Every dog needs toys to be entertained and mentally stimulated. Choosing toys for your pet seems like a simple task, but how can you possibly make the right selection from the thousands of dog toys on the market? There are different types of toys made from countless different materials. And, the price range for dogs toys can be anywhere from $1 to over $100! How do you evaluate the value of a dog toy? Don't worry, I've done the hard work for you by testing tons of toys and reviewing each one, and found ten of the best dog toys for boredom as well as fetching, tugging, interactive play and even power chewers.
Picking the right dog toys for specific reasons. Most dog toys could serve the purpose of relieving boredom in dogs, but some are better than others. Also, other factors can be considered too and you can hit two birds with one stone. For example, some dogs only chew on toys when they are puppies and require the oral fixation to help with teething. Other dogs chew toys and play fetch until they are well into their senior years. Your dog’s age, size and toy preference will all be factors in which toys will meet his needs. You'll also need to consider the quality of the toy and your dog's chewing style. Is he an aggressive chewer or does he tend to just carry toys around in his mouth?
Remember that the price of a dog toy is usually directly related to the quality of the toy that you are buying. A $1 dog toy is not likely to last very long, while a more expensive dog toy will be made with higher quality and more durable materials. With that said, dog toys that sell for $50+ aren't always a good value for the money.
So, before reading through this review of the best dog toys for boredom and other necessities, consider all of these factors and think about the type of toy that will be best for your pet. There are balls, rope toys and interactive toys on this list. Which type of toy will entice your dog? How does he like to play, and which type of toy will best meet those needs? Don't forget to consider your dog's size to help you choose a toy that will be safe and durable enough to outlast his jaws.
The following are five of my favorite and highest rated dog toys, which I review down below:
|Our Pets IQ Treat Ball Interactive Food Dispensing...||6,837 Reviews||$11.70||Buy on Amazon|
|Canine Hardware Chuckit Pocket/Petite Format (12...||492 Reviews||$6.95||Buy on Amazon|
|StarMark Bob-A-Lot Interactive Dog Toy, Small||3,432 Reviews||Currently out of stock||Buy on Amazon|
|Nerf Dog 16inch Medium Compact Tennis Ball...||492 Reviews||$19.99||Buy on Amazon|
|Tough Rubber Dog Bone, Durable Chew Toy for Small...||132 Reviews||$7.99||Buy on Amazon|
The Importance of Variety
Our pets need variety, and this is especially true when it comes to relieving boredom in dogs. Like people, they get bored easily without enough stimulation. Did you know that dogs can suffer from some of the same mental health disorders as humans? Recent research has shown that dogs can suffer from stress, anxiety, boredom and even depression. Toys are an easy and affordable way to provide the much needed mental stimulation that will keep your dog happy and healthy.
Mental stimulation is one of the key aspects of pet care, and it's also one of the most overlooked. Think about your dog's daily routine. He probably spends most of time inside your home by himself. If he's not alone, he is probably expected to entertain himself for most of the day while you're tending to work and/or other tasks. His environment is the same, his routine is the same, he spends a lot of time alone… how could he not get bored?
Boredom is obviously a difficult thing to assess in animals, but studies have shown that boredom is closely related to problematic and stereotypical behaviors. Boredom in animals has also been shown to lead to depression. Stress in animals has also been studied, and it has also been shown to lead to anxiety issues and depression.
If you want to make sure that your dog stays active – both mentally and physically – providing a variety of dog toys is imperative. Put yourself in your dog's shoes for a moment. Would you be happier with a variety of dog toys to play with or lazing around on the couch waiting for your family to pay attention to you?
Recently, researchers from the University of Bristol’s Veterinary School sought to figure out why dogs love some toys while other toys sit in their box collecting dust. While they could not find one single characteristic that made one dog toy more favorable than another, the study did show that as dogs get used to the stimulus qualities of a certain toy (it's texture, sounds and smell), they are likely to get bored with it.
So, what does all of this research mean for pet owners? It means that we need to provide our dogs with a variety of toys that they will enjoy. We need to select toys that will entice them to play and engage them mentally. We must also consider the safety and value of the toy in order to be responsible consumers. This is what I considered when ranking the best dog toys for boredom specifically.
Which Dog Toys are Right for Your Pooch?
I've done tons of research and testing in my own home with my own dogs to find ten of the best dog toys for boredom, mental stimulation and similar. This testing and research has helped me to write this buying guide, and I'll be sharing pros and cons of each toy from my own first-hand experience. I've also picked the best toys for fetching and tugging, along with some great interactive toys that are sure to engage your dog.
You'll see that my overall top choice is OurPets IQ Treat Ball. It's available in 2 sizes for small and large breeds. You can fill this ball with your dog's favorite treats or kibble, and he'll have fun pushing it around the floor to receive his reward.
Below I'll explain all about the different features of each dog toy, including my top OurPets pick. Plus, I'll show you some other great alternatives that may be the best option for your pooch. Keep in mind that I have tested dozens of dog toys, but only my top 10 picks made this list.
Top 10 Best Dog Toys for Boredom and More
1OurPets IQ Treat Ball
The overall best choice
The Our Pets IQ Treat Ball is available in two sizes. The one in my review video and photos is the 4″ ball. You can also purchase a 3″ ball if you have a smaller pup. It is made of a hard non-toxic plastic material.
- Fill with your dog's favorite...
- Adjustable feeding difficulty...
- As your dog plays and the...
- Twists apart for easy cleaning
- Ideal for small to medium...
You can fill the toy with kibble or small dog treats. When your dog pushes the ball around with his nose or paws, the food rolls around and occasionally a piece will fall out of the small hole at the top of the ball. The noise of the food shaking around and the smell will definitely keep your dog motivated to keep playing. If your dog likes to eat, this treat will surely entertain him until all the of the food is gone.
One of the features that makes the IQ Treat Ball one of the best dog toys is that you can adjust the difficulty level. There is an interior disc that you can easily turn to create a smaller or larger opening. The smaller the opening, the more difficult it will be for your pup to shake a treat loose.
My favorite thing about this treat dispensing dog toy from Our Pets is that it comes apart for easy cleaning. It's not dishwasher safe, but you can easily wipe it out with a damp cloth or hand wash it with warm water and dish soap.
The 4″ ball works well for our 30-pound Beagle and our 70-pound Labrador Retriever. This dog toy is not suitable for aggressive chewers, but I think it would work for any breed or size – as long as they are food motivated.
You can purchase the 3″ Our Pets IQ Treat Ball for $9.99 on Amazon right now, and the 4″ ball will only cost you $10.72. This hard plastic toy should last for many years if your dog is not a destructive chewer. In my opinion, this dog toy is a very good value for the money.
For a closer look and its buying guide, check out my extensive review here or watch the video below.
2Chuckit! Sport Launcher
Best dog toy for fetching
As you can see in the photo below (and in my video review below), our dogs LOVE chasing after a tennis ball. They do enjoy playing a traditional game of fetch, but the Chuckit! Sport Launcher has definitely made the game better – especially for our Labrador, Saddie. Saddie loves to run, and I can't throw the ball far enough on my own for her to need to sprint to retrieve it.
- The pint sized Chuckit packs a...
- It's even great for the...
- Specially designed for...
- No Slobber
- Hands-free pickup
The Chuckit! Sport Launcher allows you to throw a tennis ball up to 3 times farther than you can throw it on your own. The company claims that you can launch a standard tennis ball up to 140 feet with this toy. The launcher shown in my review has a 26″ handle, but it is also available in 12-, 18- and 25-inch lengths. Models with a shorter handle do not throw as far as the 26″ model that I'm demonstrating in this review.
There are Chuckit! launchers available to throw tennis balls from 2-3.5″ in diameter. The launcher that I have uses a standard 2.5″ ball.
As you'll see me demonstrate in my video review, you don't have to bend down to pick up a tennis ball with this launcher. I love this feature, because it means I don't have to pick up slimy, drool covered tennis balls anymore. I'm sure you'll have to bend a bit with a smaller model, but you still won't have to touch the ball with your hand.
The Chuckit! Sport Launcher is made of lightweight plastic and features an ergonomically designed handle. It's very easy to use, but if you have poor upper body strength or an injury to your arm or shoulder, you should NOT use this dog toy.
The launcher that I have (26″ length and a medium size) is currently selling on Amazon for $11.95. You can purchase other lengths and sizes for $7.95-$19.56, depending on the size that you choose.
I think this product is an excellent value for the money. These best dog toys are made with durable, strong plastic, and I have no doubt that they will last for many years. If your dog loves to fetch, this product will take a lot of strain off of your shoulder and make the game even more fun for you and your pooch.
For more information, take a look at my detailed product review or watch the below video.
3StarkMark Bob-A-Lot Interactive Dog Toy
Best interactive toy for chewers
The StarMark Bob-A-Lot dog toy comes in two sizes. I show the small size in this review. The smaller size holds about 1 cup of food and the larger size holds up to 3 cups of food.
- Adjustable treat dispensing...
- Large chamber fits whole meals
- Weighted bottom wobbles
The smaller StarMark Bob-A-Lot is about 6.4″ tall and has one opening. The larger size is about 8.9″ tall and has two openings for treats or kibble to fall out. This is one of the few interactive dog toys on the market that is large enough to fit an entire meal for a large breed.
The design is simple, and it works well for small and large dogs. The weighted bottom wobbles back and forth as your dog pushes the toy around with his nose and/or paws. As it bobs around, kibble or treats occasionally fall from the hole on the side.
As I demonstrate in my video review above, the hole has a sliding, adjustable cover that allows you to make it more or less challenging. Similar to the OurPets IQ Treat Ball, the smaller the size of the opening, the harder it will be for your dog to get kibble or treats to fall out.
I like the anti-slip rubber bottom featured on these best dog toys. It allows your dog to push it back and forth without the toy rolling all over the room. Similar products, like the IQ Treat Ball, roll from one side of the room to the other. While this provides more physical exercise, the toy ends up getting stuck under furniture or other places where my dogs can't get to it.
The one drawback to this dog toy is that it is difficult to clean. It doesn't come apart in the middle like the IQ Treat Ball to make washing easier. The StarMark-Bob-A-Lot has a screw top, which you can see in my video review below. When cleaning it, I submerge the toy in warm soapy water and swish it around to clean the inside.
You can purchase the smaller StarMark Bob-A-Lot on Amazon for $13.49 right now, and the larger size is currently selling for $25.19. This price is comparable to other similar interactive, treat dispensing dog toys. It is a good value for the price, in my opinion.
For more details on these best dog toys, check out my detailed product review or watch the video below.
4Nerf Dog Tennis Ball Blaster
Most fun for owners
If you've ever played with a Nerf gun, you know just how much fun these things are. Now, imagine a Nerf gun that shoots tennis balls! This ball launcher is SO cool and tons of fun for your whole family, including the canine members.
- Nerf-Powered Blast: Skyrocket...
- Hands-Free Pickup: Re-load...
- Simple Operation: Just pull...
- Adjustable Power: Easily...
These best dog toys can send a standard 2.5″ tennis ball flying up to 50 feet! You can see in my video review below that this gun is pretty powerful and shoots the balls with quite a bit of force. While it makes for an extra-fun game of fetch, it could certainly hurt someone if you aimed the tennis ball at them. You need to use caution when playing with this toy.
There is a safety release mechanism, and the Nerf Dog Tennis Ball Blaster is only recommended for people over the age of 14.
You can also see how easy it is to pick up a tennis ball with this gun without using your hands. When your dog drops the ball, simply place the end of the gun over the ball and press gently until the ball is stuck in place. Like the Chuckit! launcher above, this means you don't have to touch drool-covered tennis balls with your bare hands.
In the photo on the left you will see the safety release mechanism (large orange bar on the top of the gun) and the orange tennis ball holder attached under the gun. You can keep an extra tennis ball with you in case the first one gets lost.
You can purchase the Nerf Dog Tennis Ball Blaster on Amazon for $29.99 right now. That's cheaper than most large Nerf gun toys! I was really surprised to see this product at such an affordable price point, and I think it's a really great value for the money!
5Outward Hound Bionic Bone
Best for power chewers
Our Labrador, Saddie, has powerful jaws, and the Outward Hound Bionic Bone stands up to all of her gnawing. These best dog toys are designed for power chewers, so if your dog really loves to gnaw and chomp this could be a good choice for him.
- BPA FREE: Lead, BPA and...
- BONE WITH A BONUS: The Bionic...
- TOUGH TEXTURE: Ridges make...
- EASY TO CLEAN: Toss the Bionic...
- BRIGHT BONES: The Bionic Bone...
The Bionic Bone isn't a traditional rubber dog toy. It is made with a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) material, which is a mix of rubber and plastic. They are BPA, lead and phthalate free.
These Outward Hound dog toys can be stuffed with treats to provide a long-lasting chewing experience for dogs that just love to chew on things. There are no sharp edges, and they don't splinter. As you will see in my video review below, I like stuffing our Bionic Bones with peanut butter to keep our dogs entertained for a long time.
These best dog toys are available in three sizes. We have the large size for Saddie. It is weighted on both ends to create a spiral motion when thrown. It also bounces erratically to keep our fetch games interesting, and it floats on water. Saddie loves her Outward Hound Bionic Bone, and it's great that we can change up our play style so much with just one toy!
Sometimes, when I'm going to be out of the house for a while, I like to stuff this toy with peanut butter in advance and freeze it. It's usually covered in food particles and drool by the time we come home, but the Outward Hound Bionic Bone is top rack dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
The Bionic Bone is available in green, purple and orange. Depending on the size and color that you want, it ranges in price from $5.99 to $14.99 on Amazon right now. That's a very reasonable price for a durable, safe and interactive dog toy that is safe for Fido to chew.
For more information on these best dog toys, read my full product review or watch the video below.
6iFetch Too Interactive Ball Launcher
The Ifetch Too Interactive Ball Launcher is made for medium and large breeds. It launches standard size tennis balls (2.5″ in diameter), while the original Ifetch launches mini tennis balls (1.6″ in diameter). As you'll see in my video review below, it definitely gets the job done!
- FETCH-A-HOLICS REJOICE!...
- THE BIG DOG: This is our large...
- RECHARGEABLE BATTERY: No...
- STANDARD TENNIS BALLS: Comes...
- SAFETY: Lock the distance...
You can set this device to launch the tennis ball 10-, 25- or 40-feet. There is also a setting that will randomly choose which of the three distances to launch the ball. You can lock the iFetch to launch only 10-feet if you'd like to use it indoors or in a small fenced-in area outdoors.
This product is equipped with a rechargeable battery that lasts for at least 300 launches. When it's time to charge the battery, just plug the included charger into an electrical outlet. It takes less than 3 hours to charge fully.
Our Labrador, Saddie, loves to play fetch, but she's also a little bit timid. Unfortunately, she was scared of the Ifetch Too Interactive Ball Launcher when we first received it. She's finally coming around to it now, but we've been using it for about 3 months with our Beagle mix, Molly.
Molly loves the iFetch. It took me about a month to train her to drop the ball into the Ifetch herself, and she still doesn't like to do it every time. But, if I drop the ball in for her, she'll play as long as I will.
Sadly, I can't recommend this product for timid dogs. In my video review you can hear the sound it makes when it launches the ball. It's not loud, but it is different, and many dogs are uneasy around new devices that make strange noises.
You also need to know that it will take training before your dog will enjoy using the iFetch on his own. You can't just buy this product and expect your dog to teach himself to use it. If you're not willing to put in the effort (like you have to with many other interactive dog toys), then the iFetch Interactive Ball Launcher will not be worth the investment.
My favorite feature of these best dog toys is that they launch the ball immediately in order to reduce the chance that the ball will hit your dog. It is important that you teach your dog to drop the ball in from the side or behind the iFetch. If he's standing in front of it and doesn't move immediately, he will get hit by the ball.
Dirty or wet tennis balls may also effect the performance of the iFetch. However, we always use it outdoors and there has never been an issue with the launcher due to debris or moisture. If the ball was launched directly into the mud or water, you may have a problem, but it works just fine for outdoor use on the grass or packed ground.
With added technology comes an increased price tag. I was expecting this product to cost $250 or $300 dollars. You can purchase the Ifetch Too Interactive Ball Launcher for $199.99 on Amazon right now. It's a little bit less expensive than I expected, but still out of the question for pet owners on a budget. If you're wondering about the cost of the smaller original Ifetch, you can pick that up on Amazon for $114.99.
For a closer look and its buying guide, check out my extensive review here or watch the video below.
7Outward Hound Fire Biterz
If your dog is into squeaky toys, the Outward Hound Fire Biterz are my pick for the best dog toys. These toys are made of the same material that they use to make fire hoses. To say that it is durable is an understatement!
- Made with real fire Hose...
- Keeps squeaking' if punctured
- No stuffing = no mess
- Please note this is not a toy...
I will note that there are small arms attached to the sides of this toy, and my dogs ripped them off after about a week of playing with it. The stitching is strong, and it didn't tear a hole in the body of the toy, so it's really no worse for the wear.
While the durability is a huge benefit, these toys are not very soft. The material is rough and thick. My dogs do not seem to mind, but if your pup prefers a soft plush toy this may not be a good option for him.
Outward Hound Fire Biterz are equipped with squeakers that continue to squeak after being punctured. They are available in two sizes. The small is about 17″ long and has two squeakers. The larger one, which is the one that I show in my video review, is 25″ long and has three squeakers.
These are a bit more expensive than most dog squeaky toys, but they're also a lot more durable. At the time of this review, the 2-squeaker design is $7.26 and the 4-squeaker design is $23.85 on Amazon.
For more information, take a look at my detailed product review or watch the below video.
KONG is known for making durable dog toys for aggressive chewers. The Stuff-A-Ball is made from classic KONG rubber. It also features patented Denta-Ridges that help to scrape plaque and tartar buildup from your dog's teeth. The ridges also massage the gums, which is especially beneficially for teething puppies.
- Use as a fetch stick that's...
- Helps clean teeth and soothe...
- Made in the USA. Globally...
- Available in three sizes: S, M...
- Available in four sizes: S, M,...
If your dog is food motivated, you can stuff the ridges with small treats or peanut butter. Extending the playtime by adding food to the toy will also help to occupy a dog that is left alone for long periods of time. You can also use these best dog treats as a great fetch toy, thanks to their erratic bounce.
The KONG Stuff-A-Ball is available in 3 sizes – small, medium and large. KONG toys are made in the USA, but the materials are sourced globally. You can purchase one of these best dog toys on Amazon for $13.00-$17.99, depending on the size.
9OxGord BazooK-9 Tennis Ball Launcher
Similar to the Nerf ball launcher in the 4th spot on this list, the BazooK-9 shoots tennis balls for your pet to fetch. This launcher is only available in one size, and it shoots standard tennis balls. It even comes with 2 squeaky tennis balls to make your game a little more entertaining.
- Works with standard tennis...
- Adjustable Travel...
- Weight (oz): 30 Dimensions:...
- Light Weight, Durable, With...
- OxGord Pet Toy Ball Launcher...
One feature this launcher offers over the Nerf launcher is that you can adjust how far it shoots the ball. They don't state exactly how far it will fire the balls, but when set to the farthest range the balls go about 30 feet. As you'll see in the photo on the right, there is also storage for 2 extra tennis balls underneath the bazooka.
The OxGord BazooK-9 Tennis Ball Launcher measures about 35″ long when fully extended. You can use the end of the muzzle to pick up a ball, so you won't need to touch slobbery tennis balls with your hands. This launcher is also equipped with a shoulder strap for easier carrying.
A few dollars cheaper than the Nerf launcher, you can purchase this one on Amazon for $23.50.
10Beco Rope Jungle Triple Knot
I had to include an eco-friendly dog toy option on my list, because I know how important that quality is for many pet owners. If you're looking for a dog toy that leaves virtually no carbon footprint, this is the option for you. The Beco Rope Jungle Triple Knot toys are made from 98% hemp and 2% recycled cotton. Hemp is a very eco-friendly material, because it grows quickly. Also, there are no pesticides or fertilizers used in the hemp growing process.
- Thick Hemp rope toy with...
- Made from a hypoallergenic and...
- Thick weave for hours of...
Rope toys are great for playing fetch or tug. The Beco Rope toy is also beneficial for chewers, because the rope strands act like floss to clean teeth and remove buildup from between the teeth. The hemp fibers of these best dog toys are very short, which means they are more easily digested than the longer strands found in cotton or synthetic ropes. The shorter fibers also make it more difficult to shred the rope.
My favorite thing about hemp is that it is hypoallergenic and antibacterial. You can purchase one of these best dog toys on Amazon for $10.18. While that is a bit more expensive than traditional rope toys, this one is obviously made of higher quality material. To me, it's well worth the price.