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Home > Dogs > 10 Best Dog Toys for Boredom in 2024: Reviews & Top Picks

10 Best Dog Toys for Boredom in 2024: Reviews & Top Picks

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Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Veterinarian, MRCVS

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Dog playing sniffing puzzle game for intellectual and nosework training

You have probably come home at some point in your life and found your carpet torn to shreds or your favorite shoes turned into a dog toy. Regardless of your pet’s age, these are scenarios you’re trying to avoid. Keeping your dog entertained while you are away is not easy. Some breeds require more mental stimulation than others. Plus, dogs prefer certain toys over others. The hunt for a good dog toy is challenging, with hundreds of choices available. You have to choose a dog toy you know your dog will like. Otherwise, you waste your money—nobody wants that!

To help your situation, we’ve listed 10 of our favorite dog toys based on reviews and experience. We hope this list helps relieve your pup’s boredom and gives you peace of mind whenever you step out of the house.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Winners in 2024

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
The Kong The Kong
  • Extremely durable
  • Bouncy
  • Various sizes and shapes
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Ethical Pet Sensory Ball Ethical Pet Sensory Ball
  • Great for heavy chewers
  • Several features
  • Different sizes and colors
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Paw 5 Wooly Snuffle Mat Paw 5 Wooly Snuffle Mat
  • Natural hunting stimulation Calming Engages nose
  • Calming
  • Engages nose
  • Best for Puppies
    Nylabone Puppy Chew Bone Nylabone Puppy Chew Bone
  • Affordable
  • Good for small mouths
  • Specifically made softer for puppies
  • Outward Hound Hide N' Slide Puzzle Game Dog Toy Outward Hound Hide N' Slide Puzzle Game Dog Toy
  • Four levels of play
  • Can use with dry and hydrated food
  • Good for long- and short-nosed dogs
  • The 10 Best Dog Toys for Boredom

    1. The Kong – Best Overall

    The Kong

    Durability: Very strong
    Material: Rubber
    Lifestage: Puppy, adult
    Toy Feature: Thick rubber, bouncy, hides food

    The Kong is a classic toy for bored dogs. It’s strong, stands the test of time, and is an excellent option for heavy chewers and food-driven pups. The Kong is rubber and acts as a bouncy toy as well. It’s also affordable with dozens of shapes and sizes to choose from. Is it any wonder why Kong wins best overall?

    The downside to the Kong is that cleaning it is difficult. For example, if you use peanut butter as the treat stimulator, most of the peanut butter gets stuck in the center, and you waste food that you have to clean out later.

    Pros
    • Extremely durable
    • Bouncy
    • Various sizes and shapes
    • Affordable
    Cons
    • Difficult to clean food out of center

    2. Ethical Pet Sensory Ball – Best Value

    Ethical Pet Sensory Ball

    Durability: Very durable
    Material: Rubber
    Lifestage: Adult
    Toy Feature: Bell, squeaker, beef scent and flavor, textured

    The Ethical Pet Sensory Ball offers several features in one toy to keep your dog entertained for as long as possible. There’s a bell and squeaker to mimic prey, plus it’s beef-flavored and scented to keep your dog coming back for more. There are also different textures in case your dog has a preference.

    This sensory ball is made of rubber, so it’s highly durable, but a large dog that’s a heavy chewer could destroy it over time. Luckily, it’s the best option for the money. The beef flavoring is likely to wear off at some point, but you can always add some of your own flavorings when that time comes. If you’re strapped for cash and need a new dog toy that checks all the boxes, this may be the toy for your dog.

    Pros
    • Great for heavy chewers
    • Several features
    • Different sizes and colors
    Cons
    • Large dogs may be able to destroy the toy
    • Flavor can wear off

    3. Paw 5 Wooly Snuffle Mat – Premium Choice

    Paw 5 Wooly Snuffle Mat

    Durability: Durable
    Material: Rubber
    Lifestage: Puppy, adult
    Toy Feature: Foraging

    The Paw 5 Wooly Snuffle Mat helps turn dinner time into an interactive play session instead of being over in 30 seconds. This option is our favorite premium choice for a few reasons. Many dog toys focus on chewing food only, but this dog toy engages the nose and stimulates the natural hunting instinct. You sprinkle some kibble throughout the mat, and your dog has to sniff and find the food. The act of sniffing when routing about for food is calming for dogs. About 15 minutes of sniffing is said to burn as many calories as an hour’s walk!

    Two dogs can use this snuffle mat. Just keep an eye on them to avoid food aggression. We don’t recommend this product for puppies or heavy chewers since the shag can come off if your dog chews on it. The mat doesn’t stay put, so you may have to apply tape to the bottom if you only have bare floors.

    Pros
    • Natural hunting stimulation
    • Calming
    • Engages nose
    Cons
    • Pricey
    • Mat doesn’t stay put
    • No option for large and extra-large dogs
    • Not suitable for heavy chewers or puppies

    4. Nylabone Puppy Chew Bone – Best for Puppies

    Nylabone Puppy Chew Bone

    Durability: Medium
    Material: Nylon
    Lifestage: Puppy gentle chewers up to 35 lbs
    Toy Feature: Teething, dental cleaning, calming

    Many chew toys for dogs aren’t suitable for puppies. They may be too big, contain hazardous pieces, or maybe the flavoring is not appealing. You don’t have to worry about that with Nylabone Chicken Flavored Chew for puppies. This chew stick is 5.5 inches long and contains non-toxic, non-allergenic materials.

    Puppies may not have much tartar build-up at first, but they’ll get there. This chew can help. It massages the gums and helps remove plaque from your dog’s teeth. The flavoring is chicken which is a favorite for many pups.

    If you have carpet in your house, you need to be careful because many owners report that the flavoring can stain carpet. If you have hard floors, the bone can be loud if your dog drops it on the floor. Some owners say their puppy destroyed the bone into tiny pieces, so keep an eye out for any choking hazards. Other options are available for strong chewers or larger pups.

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • Good for small mouths
    • Specifically made softer for puppies
    Cons
    • Flavoring may stain carpet
    • Loud when dropped on hard flooring
    • Monitor for breakage

    5. Outward Hound Hide N’ Slide Puzzle Game Dog Toy

    Outward Hound Hide N' Slide Puzzle Game Dog Toy

    Durability: Very durable
    Material: Polypropylene, wood
    Lifestage: Adult
    Toy Feature: Food puzzle

    The fifth option on our list is Outward Hound’s Hide N’ Slide Puzzle Game. This game is a favorite for many dog owners by turning dinner time into an interactive game. You hide the food pieces in the compartments, and your dog uses its snout to open them. It’s a great way to give your dog a few minutes of mental stimulation and a reward for completing the puzzle. Dogs that like to scarf down their dinner could benefit from this game.

    This puzzle is made of polypropylene, a type of plastic mixed with some wood. It’s BPA-, PVC-, and phthalate-free. The biggest cons of this puzzle are that some dogs figure out how to solve it quickly, and it’s not challenging anymore. Also, this game is pricey. If your dog figures out the puzzle immediately, it might not be worth the money.

    Pros
    • Four levels of play
    • Can use with dry and hydrated food
    • Good for long- and short-nosed dogs
    Cons
    • Pricey
    • Clicks and levers may intimidate some dogs
    • The levers may loosen over time
    • Not challenging for some dogs

    6. Chew King Fetch Balls

    Chew King Fetch Balls

    Durability: Semi-durable
    Material: Rubber
    Lifestage: Adult
    Toy Feature: Food dispensing, durability options

    If your dog loves to play with balls, the Chew King fetch balls could be a great option. These fetch balls go beyond the standard tennis ball. They’re durable rubber, so they won’t break and tear like regular tennis balls. They’re also food dispensing like a Kong, so it doubles as a toy.

    You can purchase the medium or large size, depending on your dog’s mouth size. There’s also a glow-in-the-dark option. Keep in mind that these balls don’t float, so don’t throw them in your pool.

    The downside to this toy is that the rubber is semi-durable, so it’s not great for heavy chewers. But if your dog loves to fetch and occasionally chew on a toy, you should give these fetch balls a try.

    Pros
    • More durable than tennis balls
    • Food dispensing
    Cons
    • Not suitable for heavy chewers

    7. Outward Hound Hide A Squirrel Squeaky Puzzle

    Outward Hound Hide A Squirrel Squeaky Puzzle

    Durability: Not durable
    Material: Polyester
    Lifestage: Puppy, adult
    Toy Feature: Squeaker, hide and seek

    Number seven on our list is Outward Hound’s Hide A Squirrel Squeaky Puzzle. Even though this toy doesn’t offer much except some cute squeaky squirrels, it’s a favorite amongst many dog owners. This puzzle is pretty straightforward—you hide the squirrels in their log, and your dog has to figure out how to get them out. There are two to three holes on the side and one large opening on top.

    Truthfully, this isn’t a challenging puzzle for dogs to solve but it is a lot of fun. Dogs with long snouts probably won’t have a hard time figuring this out, but they can still enjoy a fun squeaker toy. Plus, you can hide treats in the log to increase the fun. This toy won’t last long with heavy chewers, so make sure you pack it away after they have finished hunting for squirrels.

    Pros
    • Squeaker
    • Add treats for hunting fun
    • Dog can play with the squirrels and home
    Cons
    • Not durable

    8. Nylabone Power Chew Wishbone

    Nylabone Power Chew Wishbone

    Durability: Semi-durable
    Material: Nylon
    Lifestage: Adult
    Toy Feature: Dental cleaning

    The Nylabone Power Chew Wishbone is another excellent toy to entertain your dog. It is made from nylon and helps clean your dog’s teeth while still tasting delicious from the flavoring. Unfortunately, the flavoring is artificial and not the safest for your furry friend.

    There are two sizes available. You might need to be extra careful when choosing a size for your dog since it isn’t durable against heavy chewers. You also need to be cautious if the bone breaks since it is not edible.

    Pros
    • Helps clean teeth
    • Flavored
    • Two sizes
    • Arched to help with chewing
    Cons
    • Artificial flavoring
    • Not edible
    • Not durable for heavy chewers

    9. Frisco Fetch Squeaking Colorful Tennis Ball

    Frisco Fetch Squeaking Colorful Tennis Ball

    Durability: Semi-durable
    Material: Rubber, polyester
    Lifestage: Adult
    Toy Feature: Squeaker

    You can’t go wrong with some basic tennis balls. These tennis balls are 2.5 inches wide and come in various colors. Each one has a squeaker in it. This is an excellent option for light to moderate chewers but not for heavy chewers. The felt may shed off the ball, and the squeaker may break if your dog punctures it, so we’ve placed this option at number nine. However, some dogs can entertain themselves with just a ball, so this is a nice option that won’t break the bank. In the long term chewing on tennis balls can wear teeth down so best not to use these every day.

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • Great for indoor and outdoor use
    Cons
    • Not suitable for heavy chewers
    • Felt may shed
    • Squeaker may stop squeaking

    10. Frisco Rope

    Frisco Rope

    Durability: Semi-durable
    Material: Cotton/poly-blend rope
    Lifestage: Puppy, adult
    Toy Feature: Great for tug-of-war

    The last option on our list is Frisco’s Dog Rope. Dogs can quickly get bored with only a rope, so we’ve placed this at the bottom of the list. Still, a rope is a nice toy for a few reasons. If you have multiple dogs, they can play together with the rope. Some dogs like chewing on ropes, which is perfect for heavy chewers. Dogs can also swing a rope around and play tug, unlike other chew toys.

    Frisco’s rope is 35 inches long and has two knots for grip. It is great for both indoor and outdoor play. There are no special features with a rope, but it’s a good idea to have a rope on hand whenever you want to play with your dog or if he gets bored. Make sure your pet doesn’t make a habit of eating loose rope fibers.

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • Indoor and outdoor play
    Cons
    • No special features
    • Ingesting loose strands could be dangerous

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    Buyer’s Guide: How to Find the Best Dog Toys for Boredom

    How Dogs Benefit From Interactive Toys

    We want our pets to have a good life and not be bored all the time. Unfortunately, boredom is a result of keeping an animal in a house all day. It’s up to us as pet owners to give our animals something to do until we can get up and interact with them.

    Obviously, toys are fun for dogs. Dogs love to play, chew, and eat things, and toys can satisfy this innate drive. But there are underlying reasons why interactive toys work so well for dogs.

    • Mental stimulation: Dogs are natural hunters and want to explore and solve problems. This is usually the cause of destructive behavior. Interactive toys satisfy these instincts by improving memory, mental speed, and visual-spatial reasoning. You can even help prevent future neurologic disorders as your dog ages. A mentally stimulated dog is a happy dog.
    • Physical exercise: Sadly, obesity is on the rise in the domestic animal world. Interactive toys can help by encouraging your dog to move and burn calories. If your dog’s toy requires treats, you can always cut back on kibble to balance caloric intake.
    • Stress relief: Like humans, dogs can get stressed and experience anxiety. Interactive toys help distract them by focusing their energy on toys that stimulate their natural instincts. If they do feel stressed and anxious, having something to chew helps.
    • Slow down eating time: Some toys don’t encourage your dog to move but they do limit how much food your dog eats at one time. Our list above includes a few toy puzzles that are great for teaching your dog to slow down and enjoy the process of finding/retrieving food.

    Choosing a Dog Toy: Things to Consider

    When you shop for a new dog toy, you don’t want to select any toy. You have to consider your dog’s preferences amongst a few other things.

    Dog playing with toy_KobiKadosh_Unsplash
    Image Credit: Kobi Kadosh, Unsplash
    • Personality: Think about how curious your dog is and how far it’s willing to go for something. For example, not every dog likes to chew, so maybe bones aren’t ideal. Some dogs like to play fetch, whereas some dogs like to be chased. What kind of dog is your dog?
    • Size: If your dog is a large, heavy chewer, you’ll need a toy that can withstand the amount of damage your dog will inflict. If your dog is small, you’ll need a toy that can fit the size of its mouth.
    • Breed: Certain breeds feed into specific instincts. If you have a hound dog, scent stimulation is key. Hunting retrievers love to bring items to their owners, and shepherds want to herd. You may not be able to satisfy all these instincts with toys, but you should at least consider them when purchasing a toy.

    The Different Types of Interactive Dog Toys

    Knowing your dog’s preferences, personality, and instincts is the first step to purchasing a toy. When you’re ready to buy one, you might be intimidated by the options on the market. It helps to know what kind of interactive toys there are and the objective of each one. Some toys only satisfy one need, while others can meet multiple needs.

    Puzzle Toys

    The objective of a puzzle toy is to stimulate your dog’s problem-solving abilities. Great puzzle toys are stimulating for your dog and shouldn’t be easy. Puzzle toys come in many forms and levels. How long a puzzle takes is really up to you and your dog’s preference.

    Chew Toys

    Chew toys help satiate a dog’s need to chew. These toys should be durable based on the chewing level of your dog. Some dogs don’t chew that much, and that’s okay. You can select a softer chew toy if this is your dog. It’s always a good idea to have something for your dog to gnaw on while you’re away.

    Dog chewing toy_Chewy_Unsplash
    Image Credit: Chewy, Unsplash

    Treat Toys

    Dogs love treat toys. Many interactive toys double as treat toys, especially since many dogs are driven by food. These toys dispense treats after a dog accomplishes the goal. It’s wise to mind how many treats your dog receives to prevent weight gain, but this is an excellent option for dogs that love to eat.

    Hide-and-Seek Toys

    Hide-and-seek toys are similar to puzzle toys. These toys are geared toward the natural prey drive in dogs. You’ll find that many hide-and-seek toys are stuffed animals, like squirrels, and they have squeakers in them. The objective is for your dog to find the object and remove it from the hiding spot.

    Sound Makers

    Sound makers are any toy that makes a sound, like squeakers. These toys mimic the animalistic sounds that prey would create in the wild. Know that these toys won’t encourage your dog to attack small animals. As gruesome as it sounds, dogs love tearing things apart that make noise, usually because of their prey drive.

    Interactive Dog Toy Safety Tips

    Remember that no dog toy is truly indestructible, so you’ll want to monitor your dog for any safety concerns.

    Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind when buying a toy for your dog.
    • Remove small pieces of a toy your dog has destroyed
    • Choose a toy made from non-toxic materials
    • Avoid toys your dog can eat if your dog is a heavy chewer
    • Rotate toys out to help them last longer
    • Choose toys that are the right size for your dog to avoid choking and blockage
    • Inspect the toy for damage before giving it to your dog

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    Conclusion

    If you have a heavy chewer on your hands, the classic Kong is our best overall option. It’s durable, bouncy, and dispenses treats. You can even try other shapes and sizes. You can also try the Ethical Pet Sensory Ball if you need an affordable option that checks all the boxes. This toy can stimulate your dog in multiple ways without a hefty price tag. Finally, if you want to spend some extra pocket change on your pup, the Paw 5 Wooly Snuffle Mat is the way to go.

    These toys are our favorite recommendations for bored dogs. Reviewers love them, and we do too! Give them a try and tell us what you think.

    See also:


    Featured Image Credit: Alexei_tm, Shutterstock

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