Anxiety in dogs has many causes, but the most common is separation from you, from the older environment, from the dog's mother or from the dog's pack. The sudden absence of a familiar companion or source of comfort can be stressful for the dog. The best toys for dogs with separation anxiety can help your Fido feel more relaxed and comfortable.
Not all dog toys are made the same. Some are great for mental stimulation, or teething, or simply occupying a dog's time. Others are specifically designed to stimulate the dog to help with their anxiety issues, including separation anxiety.
Dog owners need to have toys for dogs with separation anxiety on hand at all times, so you can alternate the toy you leave for your pooch each day. Leaving the same toy every time will cause the dog to get bored easily, defeating the purpose of that dog toy.
We've tested over a 100 toys here on Top Dog Tips over the years. For this specific health issue, we found and reviewed six of the best toys for dogs with separation anxiety, and below we'll discuss the benefits of each of these unique tools.
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Dog Toys and Separation Anxiety in Dogs
If separation is inevitable, such as the daily separation when you leave for work, then it must be associated with something that the dog can look forward to each day. That something can be a treat, a toy or an interactive dog puzzle game that will keep Fido occupied while you're away.
Some dogs experience short and insignificant bouts of anxiety, but others struggle with chronic anxiety every time their owner leaves the house. There are natural science-based proven ways to calm a dog, and the best toys for dogs with separation anxiety are on that list and can be a very effective tool.
But you must use separation anxiety dog toys correctly. Two main rules to follow are (1) rotate between 3-5 dog toys to keep your dog's interest and mental stimulation levels up; (2) only give separation anxiety dog toys to your pooch when you leave home and always remove them when you're back at home.
In a 2015 study on canine separation anxiety, researchers found a very simple yet effective strategy that every pet owner can follow:
While some of the mentioned top rated toys for dogs with separation anxiety can work well, they aren't a tool that fits all pets and all cases.
For severe cases of dog anxiety, a trip to a veterinarian for a consultation, a list of anxiety relief meds or a prescription of stronger meds could be in order. Symptoms of such severe cases of anxiety in dogs include:
- destructive chewing
- excessive panting
If your dog's anxiety causes them to become aggressive or you have a reason to believe that their anxiety may have a negative effect on their health, seek the advice of your veterinarian. While a natural remedy like some of the best toys for dogs with separation anxiety may work, you can't take the chance with your safety or the safety of your pet.
There are other alternatives to relieving anxiety in dogs as well, like anxiety vests or essential oils. Oftentimes, symptoms of canine anxiety are seen as behavior problems. No matter how much time you spend training your dog, these issues won't go away until the underlying cause of the behavior (anxiety) is treated.
In some cases, changing environmental variables may help relieve the anxiety. But, you may to try other methods to cure the problem. If your dog has a mild case of separation anxiety, the toys on this list may help to occupy his mind and ease his anxiety.
6 Best Toys for Dogs with Separation Anxiety
1Smart Pet Love SnugglePuppy Behavioral Aid Toy
The SnugglePuppy from Smart Pet Love is number one on our list when it comes to calming a lonely, anxious puppy. This cute, fluffy brown toy puppy will somehow fill the void that your furbaby feels. It has a mechanical heartbeat and a disposable warmer insert that provides warmth of up to 144° F.
- The original Snuggle Puppy,...
- Helps with crate training by...
- Helps pets transition to their...
- “Real-feel” pulsing...
- Machine washable on gentle...
The mechanical heart runs on AAA alkaline batteries. A set of batteries is included for every purchase. The batteries last for a week at most, and the warmer pack provides warmth for 24 hours. Pet owners were happy to see their puppy instantly loving the Smart Pet Love SnugglePuppy Behavioral Aid Toy. He does look so peaceful and warm that it’s a no-brainer why a puppy would snuggle right next to it.
The realistic pulse makes it all the more relaxing. There’s something about the rhythm that soothes the nerves and lulls even the most restless soul to sleep. According to dog owners, their puppies were suffering so much from separation anxiety that they were always whining, barking, or crying through the night. With SnugglePuppy, however, the pups just slept straight for hours until it was time to potty or to wake up. They swear that has never happened before.
2KONG Classic Dog Toy for Separation Anxiety
The KONG Classic makes separation not only less lonely, but challenging and rewarding, too. It is made of puncture-resistant natural rubber that’s ideal for average chewers. It is available in six sizes, with each size recommended for a different weight range.
- INSTINCTUAL NEEDS: The KONG...
- FETCH TOY: The KONG Classic's...
- AVERAGE CHEWING DOGS: The KONG...
- GREAT FOR STUFFING: The...
- VET RECOMMENDED: Veterinarians...
The repetitive chewing action relaxes a dog and allows it to release frustrations and excess energy. This red and bouncy chew toy is also great for a game of fetch. Treats can be stuffed in it, too, to engage dogs longer and provide a more challenging and fulfilling activity. The physical and mental exertion required in taking out the treat from the KONG Classic Dog Toyhelps address boredom and restlessness.
Creative dog owners used this Kong to stuff goodies or their special dog treat recipes into, sometimes even freezing the Kong with the stuffing to extend their dog’s exploration time up to several hours. It is important to choose the right Kong for your dog as there are different colors and degree of toughness recommended for different types of chewers.
3Spot Ethical Pets Mini Skinneeez Raccoon
by Ethical Pets
Fun activities and games significantly reduce stress in anxious dogs. Playing diverts their attention from the source of anxiety to something that makes them feel good. It would be helpful to have a toy, such as this Mini Skinneeez Raccoon from Spot, that dogs enjoy playing with. When a situation arises which could possibly cause stress, the familiar toy will immediately be associated with playing and having fun.
- STUFFINGLESS - What makes this...
- REALISTIC DESIGN - Dogs love...
- SQUEAK SQUEAK - In addition to...
- MANY DESIGNS - This toy is...
- 100% WORRY FREE GUARANTEE: We...
The Mini Skinneeez is made of polyester fabric that’s soft and water resistant. This has no stuffing but instead has an inner material that produces a crunchy sound. This measures 18 inches long and dogs find it extremely fun to toss around, flip, shake, and retrieve.
Dogs love this slim long raccoon thing in their mouth while they run and do their usual business. It’s like a prized conquest to brag around or a favorite prey to pounce on. While this is clearly a show of dominance, dog owners find it interesting that their dogs don’t actually rip it dead. Instead, they play with the Spot Ethical Pets Mini Skinneeez Raccoon, carry it around, sleep with it, and look for it continually like they find comfort in it.
Some aggressive dogs are so crazy over the squeaker that they end up tearing the toy to pieces just to find where the sound comes from. To most gentle chewers and mild-tempered dogs, though, this has been a valued companion that they constantly peck on, nibble, suck, cuddle, smell, and tug. In fact, they won’t be completely ready for bed until they’re with their Mini Skinneeez Raccoon.
4KONG Tires Extreme Dog Toy for Anxiety
The KONG Traxx is a tire-shaped black toy that’s made for chewing, chasing, fetching and rolling around. It belongs to KONG’s Black Extreme line of toys, which means that it has an extreme degree of durability and is designed for power chewers. The outer surface of the tire is heavily treaded for that ultimate grip and texture. This also makes for a unique rubbery quality for active chewing.
- Power Chewing Dogs: The...
- Great For Stuffing: The KONG...
- Fetch Toy: This toughest...
- Toy Sizing: Small made for...
- Made in the USA. Globally...
There is a narrow groove along the circumference of the inner rim which can be filled with thick treats for the dog to lick. The interior can contain small bites of treats or the prized rawhide for the curious guy to dig. There are two sizes available – small and medium/large.
Dog owners love that this is US-made, especially that it would be in their pets’ mouth most of the time. It bounces and rolls endlessly, promising a lot of chasing and fun. After several months of being constantly chewed on, the KONG Tires Extreme Dog Toy has remained hard-wearing and supple. It has also been an immense help in soothing their dog’s anxiety attacks.
Like in most items you buy, always remember to order the size that’s right for your mutt. It’s true that Black Extreme toys are for power chewers, but Kong makers recommend proper sizing for all of their toys all the time. Since this toy style is available in two sizes only – the largest being Medium/Large – there’s no way to get a bigger size if your doggie happens to be bigger than the recommended dog weight. Keeping that in mind before placing an order will ensure your dog’s long-lasting enjoyment with this product.
5Outward Hound Kyjen Puzzle Plush Animals
by Outward Hound
These cuddly plush animal toys from Outward Hound make for reassuring companions to insecure and lonesome pups. Just by sitting there, this threesome already has a calming presence. But there’s an exciting aspect to these toy replacements. You can buy separately the Outward Hound Hide-A-Toy which is a hollow toy tree trunk with holes.
- HIDE A SQUIRREL REPLACEMENT...
- DURABLE INVINCIBLES SQUEAKER:...
- TOSS, FETCH, & PLAY: No...
- GENTLE ON THE TEETH AND GUMS:...
- PLAY IT SAFE: No toy is...
It is made of the same plush material as the animals, and it is where you squeeze in and hide all the plush animals. Then it’s the job of your puppy to look for the hidden animals and take them out one by one. They’d all squeak when pressed and that would definitely be pure delight to your nosey little fellow.
The plush material used in these toys indicates that these are for small dogs with gentle chewing temperament. The Outward Hound Kyjen Puzzle Plush Animals won’t last long for aggressive or power chewers. The amazing thing about it though is how it grabs a dog’s attention without need for inserting treats or food such as in most puzzle chew toys. The time that a nervous dog spends in figuring out how to get each animal out of the stump is usually adequate for it to calm down and get settled. That makes this a very effective relaxing toy.
There are other styles – bees and birds – for variation. Different replacement animals may even be mixed in one stump for more fun. The squeakers were often the first to go, which is understandable. Any normal dog would naturally hunt first for what’s causing the sound and would never stop until he gets to it. Even without the squeaks, though, pet owners said that their dogs continue to enjoy and be comforted by these plushies.
6Nibble Pet Products Interactive Treat Dispensing Toy Ball Puzzle
A dog that is physically and mentally occupied has no time to feel anxious. This is the concept behind the Interactive Treat Dispensing Toy Ball for Dogs from Nibble Pet Products. This toy is a red rubber ball, textured with paw pattern, and has a diameter of 3 inches.
- 3.0 inches x 3.0 inches
- Multi-chamber design for...
- Will help keep pets engaged...
- Instructions: place small...
- Reduces dog barking and stress...
It is hollow inside with multi-chambers where treats and food can be inserted for longer play time and problem solving. When you give this to the dog just before you leave him alone, it allows the dog to be engrossed in an activity that takes his mind off you. When the dog realizes you’ve left, he would be more relaxed and enjoying his treat.
The ball holds the treat and keeps it there for the probing dog. The common observation from pet owners is that the treats fall off the ball fairly easily, so it’s not much of a challenge. The key there, actually, is to carefully choose the treat. It must not be too small that it would fall off the ball when bounced. A good-sized treat will take several minutes of poking, tugging, twitching, jerking, or rolling off before it eventually comes out.
This rubber ball is a good bouncing and rolling toy, too. It makes a very negligible sound when it hits floors or walls, so disturbing the baby or people downstairs should be the least of your worries. The rubber is soft, so it’s a great chew thing for gentle chewers because it exercises their jaw without hurting their gums or deforming their teeth.