What goes on in your dog's head? You may think that their thoughts are geared towards their next meal, suddenly distracted by a squirrel running into their vision. Scientists however, have placed dog's intelligence on par with the average two-year-old human.

And we all know two-year-olds love their toys and need them to learn and thrive! We discuss the purpose of interactive dog toys and the many ways that they can benefit your pet.

Your naughty hound's ability to sneak out of the garden is more than luck and probably includes some canine calculations. Dogs can memorize instructions, count, and can understand over 150 words.

One owner trained his clever Collie to identify over 1000 toys by name. Studies show that your dog will be healthier, happier, and better behaved when exposed to activities that trigger their curiosity and imagination. Thanks to interactive dog toys, you can spark some intellect in your lazy mutt. 

What are Interactive Dog Toys? 

interactive dog toys

As much as you may love your four-legged friend, it is impossible to be their primary source of entertainment. Interactive dog toys are objects that engage your pet's cognitive and physical abilities in a fun way. The purpose of an interactive dog toy is one that stimulates the mind. It requires thought, planning, logic, motor skills, and problem-solving skills. 

Interactive dog toys come in various shapes and sizes, and some toys are treat dispensing. Interactive dog toys aim to keep your dog entertained for an extended time, sometimes without human interaction. 

Six Benefits of Interactive Dog Toys

Without mental stimulation, dogs become bored and potentially develop a range of destructive habits or degenerate health. Interactive dog toys offer a solution to your pet's need for stimulation. Nurturing your furball's cognitive ability will foster canine-human communication. Your dog needs to experience new and challenging situations to increase their IQ.

1. Assists in Diet Management

Good habits and healthy lifestyles can reduce the risk of some health and dietary issues. Slow eating is a good practice, and if your dog is a glutton who polishes off his meal in seconds, then something needs to be done.

Fast consumption can be dangerous and lead to dog bloat, or gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). Bloat is a serious and sometimes fatal condition, caused when a dog's stomach fills with food, fluid, or gas, making it expand. Surrounding organs experience pressure that requires emergency treatment.

Obesity in dogs can lead to further issues: diabetes, joint pain, heart problems, cancer, and a shortened life span. 

An effective change to your dog's health in the two abovementioned cases is to slow down your dog's speed of consumption. There are puzzle feeders and slow-feeding snuffle mats on the market that assist.

Making mealtime fun will also stimulate them mentally. In the case of an overweight dog, the interactive feeding toy could distract them from the smaller portion that they're receiving.

2. Keeps Your Puppy Out of Mischief

interactive toys for puppies

Healthy and energetic puppies require constant playtime. Socially deprived puppies can end up frustrated and bored, leading to digging, incessant barking, and naughty acts. Puppies are also teething, and chewing on items eases their discomfort.

Put a stop to unwanted boredom by placing interactive dog toys around your home to offer a new form of stimulation wherever your pup goes. From chew toys that squeak, to a ball launcher, your worn-out puppy is unlikely to turn back to their unwanted habits. A treat ball can be a reward for good behavior.

3. Assists in Treating Separation Anxiety Behavior

Many dogs loathe the moment their pet mommy or daddy head off to work. Separation anxiety is an anxiety disorder that affects one in six dogs. Dogs can experience anxious moments when there is a change in household, schedule, or if they feel abandoned.

The terrible symptoms are defecation and urination in the home, whining, barking and howling, escape attempts, and other destructive or self-harming behaviors. 

Keeping your anxious dog calm can be an overwhelming feat. You can medicate your dog with holistic options like CBD as a tool to promote relaxation. Interactive dog toys will also distract your dog from their anxious emotions. Chewing and licking can be soothing for a dog, so redirecting their anxious behavior to a chew toy or a kibble puzzle will help.

4. Play Assists Your Geriatric Dog

interactive toys for dogs

Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw, aptly said once that "We don't stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing." This is true for our four-legged friends too. 

While interactive dog toys are appropriate for most ages, some meet the mental needs of specific age groups. Senior dogs might not be as playful as they were as a young pup, nor as active (thank goodness, right?). The need for cognitive exercise is more necessary than ever.

Toys that provide mental interactive may keep your dog's cognitive skills in shape, building confidence, and maintaining youthfulness. But that is not all. Interactive dog toys slow down the mental degradation that comes with old age. Dementia and memory loss is less likely to take hold in your mentally stimulated Geezer.

5. Satisfy Your Dog's Need For a Hunt

Interactive dog toys that hold treats inside stimulate Fido's natural hunting instincts. Foraging and sniffing out treats comes naturally to dogs. They can spend a significant portion of their time wrestling with a treat-dispensing ball to get every last bit of their favorite snack

6. Stress and Anxiety Relief

Man's best friend thrives when he's happy. Exercise and stimulation allow your dog to live their best life. When you introduce them to interactive dog toys as a part of their routine, then their stress and anxiety levels drop.

This is due to the release of endorphins, oxytocin, and dopamine, the neurochemicals associated with closeness, bonding, and positive feelings. These hormones have been observed in both pet parents and companion animals when they interact and play.

Different Types of Interactive Dog Toys 

dog toys that are interactive

Playing with your dog doesn't mean throwing a ball in the garden. You can use interactive toys for dogs in the comfort of your home. This is perfect for those long winters or if you live in a small space.

The options of toys for your pooch are endless. They come in all shapes, sizes, challenge levels, and colors. It will be simple to find something to suit your budget and your pet. Here are the main types of toys that you will find:

  • Puzzles games will keep your quizzical cutie heading to the next level of intelligence as they problem-solve knobs, levers, and buttons for a reaction. These are the best for fine motor movement and exercise. 

  • Robotic or sensory games for dogs involve electronic devices that can play with your dog for you by changing colors or playing sounds when your pet engages with it. Your pet will stay interested in the robotic dispensing treats. 

  • Vessel toys have hollowed centers or spaces that are suitable for hiding food. 

  • Ball launchers are electronic machines that will throw the ball for your dog.

  • Treat dispensers will keep your dog active, digging, and rolling around as they desperately try to extract nibbles from pockets and treat chambers.

  • Hide and seek toys include soft, stuffed animals, and objects that your dog needs to nuzzle for and retrieve. 

How to Teach Your Dog to Use an Interactive Toy 

Your dog wants your approval of their new toy before they engage with it. If your goal is to replace negative behavior with positive playtime, then you need to show your pooch that you love it when they interact with their toy.

Most dogs respond well to some bribery bites. Yup, even if the toy isn't treat dispensing, it won't hurt to start with some kibbles to get them interested. Your dog is also more likely to show interest in their toy if you play with them. Once they're all in with their new plaything, you can move away and let them continue with the fun. 

Before You Buy: Interactive Toy Must-Haves 

Finding the best interactive dog toys are near impossible as there are so many out there. Having more than one toy for your pet will keep your dog interested. Rotate the use of their toys as needed. Here are some of the highest-rated and best interactive dog toys out there at the moment:

How to Choose the Best Interactive Toy for Your Dog 

interactive dog toys for mental stimulation

Consider your dog's temperament and breed when you buy them a toy. Hunting dogs are most likely to love something that will make them feel like they're foraging. Intelligent dog breeds like Border Collies, German Shepherds, Poodles, and Rottweilers will do best with puzzle toys that test their logic and skill.

Indoor dogs will need physical exercise, and so alternating an interactive toy with the odd tug-of-war game or a ball launcher will allow the release of energy. There is no one size fits all, and choosing the best toy is best left to the ones who know the pooch best - you! Be careful not to buy something too advanced that could leave your pup frustrated and defeated. 

Engaging with your dog is essential for bonding. Interactive dog toys are not to replace the quality time that your furbaby needs from you. With all these toys, make sure they are part of enriching your dog's life, rather than replacing their desire for socialization, which is also important.

If your pawsome pup has mastered their interactive toys, then you can donate them to local animal shelters before replacing them with their next best toy. 

It's time to treat your bestie to some interactive dog toys to keep your pet happy, healthy, and inspired. Their loyalty and boundless joy will be your reward. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I keep my old dog mentally stimulated?

Toys that provide mental interactive may keep your dog's cognitive skills in shape, building confidence, and maintaining youthfulness. But that is not all. Interactive dog toys slow down the mental degradation that comes with old age.

What dog toys can help slow my dog's eating?

An effective change to your dog's health in the two abovementioned cases is to slow down your dog's speed of consumption. There are puzzle feeders and slow-feeding snuffle mats on the market that assist.

How do I get my dog interested in their new toy?

Most dogs respond well to some bribery bites. Yup, even if the toy isn't treat dispensing, it won't hurt to start with some kibbles to get them interested. Your dog is also more likely to show interest in their toy if you play with them.