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What are Interactive Dog Toys?

Updated on April 9, 2015

They're Toys That Interact WITH Your Dog

Lately, there's been a lot of buzz in the dog toy industry about interactive dog toys. Hmm, still wondering what they are and how they differ from just plain old dog toys? Well, interactive dog toys are fun toys that either engage your dog in a new and exciting way or toys that reward your dog (typically with treats but could also be interesting sounds or lights) for playing with it. These kinds of dog toys are not only more fun for dogs, they are also more stimulating and engaging, which keeps dogs playing (and exercising) longer. For the interactive dog toys that involve the dog owner as well, they promote bonding as the dog owner and dog are playing and having fun together.

interactive dog toy
interactive dog toy

And there are a TONS of Interactive Dog Toys!

Just waiting to make your dog's tail wag!

Because these toys are so doggone popular, as dog owners are becoming wise to the fact that these kind of toys keep doggie boredom far, far away, there are lots of different kinds of interactive dog toys available. From treat dispensers to bacon bubble machines, to dog puzzles, games and fetch machines. Dog toy manufacturers are making better dog toys designed with a dog's mentality in mind and with the aim of keep a dog engaged in the dog toy for longer periods of time.

Tether Tug Outside Dog Toy

Tether Tug Dog Toy
Tether Tug Dog Toy

The Tether Tug is one of the newest interactive dog toys and dogs who love to tug go crazy for it! The Tether Tug easily installs in the ground and dogs can tug and pull to their heart's desire. It spins in every direction for the ultimate tug of war game. If you're looking for the ultimate dog toy, it's definitely the Tether Tug!

interactive treat toy
interactive treat toy

Interactive Dog Toys That Reward

Dogs Are Encouraged to Play Because They Can "Win"

These are the most popular kind of interactive dog toys because 1) all dogs love treats or mental stimulation in the form of sounds or lights, 2) these toys are typically easy for dogs to figure out, 3) there are lots of different kinds, shapes and sizes - so something for every dog and 4) they're moderately priced. The treat-dispensing toys all basically work the same way: you fill the toy with either small treats or kibble and your dog must move, shake or roll the toy around in order for the treats to come out. Some of these toys are really genius by even letting the dog see and smell the treats trapped inside. You can just imagine how enticing this is to a treat-obsessed pooch (and, let's face it, that's pretty much all dogs)! As for the toys that give a reward in the form of a noise or light, typically the dog must move the toy around in order for it to give the dog the sight or sound reward.

Babble Ball - Talking Dog Toy

talking dog toy
talking dog toy

As one the most popular interactive dog toys, you can bet the Babble Ball is lots of fun. As a dog moves the ball around it says all sorts of funny words and phrases. Dogs love the sound of a human voice and this toy is especially comforting when your pooch is home alone.

dog bubbles
dog bubbles

Interactive Bubble Toys

Wanna see your pooch go a little crazy? Blow some bacon bubbles!

It's pretty much a fact (in a non scientifical, casual asking around kind of way) that all dogs L-O-V-E bubbles. And this goes double, no quadruple, if those bubbles are bacon, chicken scented or peanut butter scented. Dog bubble toys come in all different forms - bubble machines, blowers or even just a bottle and a wand (nothing wrong with doin' it old school). So, you can choose to be involved by blowing bubbles with the wand or with the bubble gun or you can decide that you'd rather just turn the bubble machine on so you can sit back with a glass of lemonade and watch the incredibly entertaining dog bubble popping show that's about to begin.

Bubbletastic Bacon Bubble Machine


The ultimate bonanza of bacon bubbles! If your dog loves bubbles, I mean LOVES bubbles, then why not give your pooch what he / she wants with a massive windstorm of bacon-scented bubbles. It's pretty much a doggie's dream come true. Just fill the machine up with bubble solution, turn it on and then watch as your dog pounces, jumps, spins and does somersaults (okay maybe not that) trying to frantically pop all those dog bubbles. Not only is it great entertainment for you, it's some serious exercise for your pooch!

Water Bottle Crunchers

water bottle dog toy
water bottle dog toy

Just fill with an empty water bottle and whenever your dog bites or steps on it .... CRRRUUUNNNCCCCHHH! Dogs love that crunchity sound and with this interactive dog toy, they can hear it as much as they want (though their human family members will no doubt think that's too much as you can image how noisy this toy is!)


Interactive Dog Puzzles and Games

Dog's really have to think in order to "win" the game and earn treats

These dog toys are also referred to as "smart dog toys" or "intelligent dog toys" because your dog has to put his thinking cap on and use some serious problem-solving skills. The puzzles and games come in varying degrees of difficulty, depending on how motivated your treat-seeking pooch is. Dog puzzles pretty much all work the same way: you hide little treats either underneath the puzzle pieces or inside the toy itself. Then your dog needs to move pieces in order to get to the treat reward. These toys can be a great opportunity for you to bond with your dog and spend some special alone time playing together.

Dog Twister


For this puzzle, treats are hidden under locked compartments and a dog must complete two tasks before earning the treats: 1) remove the bone-shaped pegs and then 2) slide the blocks, one after the other, in a circle. To make the game easier, you can choose to not put the locking pegs in place.

Dog Tornado


This puzzle has four rotating discs with three of the layers containing treats. Dogs must turn the discs with their noses or paws in order to find the treats. But, it's not easy as it may sound because the discs can spin too fast (covering the treats right back up). So, dogs need to figure out how to not only move the discs but how to control them as well.


Interactive Fetch Toys

Now it's time for some serious running!

There's no doubt that these types of interactive dog toys will give your dog the most amount of exercise - because fetching balls takes a lot of work! Many dog owners don't want their dog playing with tennis balls because it can wear the enamel down on their teeth, and that's fine because most fetch toys will work with any rubber tennis-ball sized ball.

Fetchtastic automatic dog ball launcher

dog fetching machine
dog fetching machine

Hyper Ball Launcher

hyperdog slingshot
hyperdog slingshot

The perfect way for you and your dog to interact together while having some great fun! You'll probably end up having just as much fun as your pooch - launching balls over 220 feet in the air is pretty dang cool. Having a fetch toy like this is great because it really extends the playing time - otherwise throwing balls on your own could result in some serious tennis elbow by the time your dog wants to quit. The Hyper Ball Launcher comes in both a 2-ball and 4-ball model.

So Many Interactive Dog Toys, Where to Start?

What's Your Dog's Favorite Type of Interactive Dog Toys

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    • Teeuwynn Woodruff profile image

      Teeuwynn Woodruff 

      4 years ago from Washington State

      Thanks for the article. It's well-written and very informative. I'm trying to decide what interactive toy to pick up for my new puppy now.


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