Best Active Dog Toys for the Restless Pup

Many people don’t realize dogs need mental stimulation as much as physical activity. This is especially true for puppies and active dog breeds. 

They also don’t realize that you need a mix of thinking and physical work. It turns out that even 15 minutes of mental stimulation can tire your pup out as much as a 30-minute active game or exercise. 

If you’ve ever seen an agility trial where the border collies herd sheep, it’s clear the dog is thinking and responding to the trainer’s signals. After a few hours of that, everyone will be tired! 

But if you’re like me, you don’t have hours a day to spend training Trixie to stalk sheep, nor do you have any sheep handy. Even if you did, you’d still want active dog toys for the downtime. 

Here are some of our favorite active dog toys for your doggie’s enrichment. 

Active Dog Toys for Mental Stimulation: Puzzle Toys 

unique dog gifts

The Nina Ottosson line of problem-solving interactive dog toys wins two paws up from dogs everywhere. These treat puzzle toys come in four difficulty levels, so you can start your active dog out with a Level 1 puzzle toy and work up to a Level 4. 

Small and big dogs love the problem-solving combination of nose work and pawing to get to the hidden treats or kibble.

Puppy Smart Level 1 Interactive Dog Puzzle Toy

Hide a little kibble under these dog bones and let your dog loose to sniff out the goodies. You can vary where (and what) you hide under the bones to keep your pup guessing. This puzzle toy also works as a way to slow down your dog’s eating if your pup is prone to gulping his meals. 

Level 2 Dog Brick Interactive Dog Puzzle 

They’re ready to upgrade when your doggo’s mastered the level 1 puzzle game. Many dogs do well with a next-level up interactive puzzle toy like this one. It’s more challenging to open the hiding spots and uncover the dog treats, which keeps boredom at bay. 

Level 3 Dog Casino Puzzle  

You’ll need to upgrade the puzzle toy to keep your dog engaged as your dog improves those problem-solving skills. This interactive dog toy has treat drawers where you can hide kibble or treats, and as your dog figures it out, you can add a difficulty level by twisting the bone-shaped handles.

Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Activity Matz Puzzle Mat

Another fun puzzle toy suitable for beginners or puppies is a snuffle mat. You can hide dog food or treats in the pockets and let your pup snuffle around until they find them. This is also a good way to slow your dog’s eating down if your pup inhales rather than chews food.

These puzzle games are some of the best interactive dog toys any active dog could hope for.

Chew Toys 

dog with chew toy

Chew toys are doggie playtime staples. Depending on your dog’s age and temperament, they’ll need an array of chew toys. Puppies benefit from teething toys, while aggressive chewers need a tough chew toy that stands up to their strong jaws. 

Petstages Mini Orka Chew Pair

These vivid chew toys relieve teething pain. There are various textures to massage sore gums, and the canvas streamers clean your puppy’s teeth of plaque and tartar. If your puppy is already an aggressive chewer, this is not a good chew toy for them. 

Petstages Liver Branch Dog Chew Toy

Trade the risk of splintering wood for these tasty (and pet safe) beef-flavored dog chews. They’re tastier than a nylabone and available in three sizes for small dogs up to large.

Orka Bone Treat-Dispensing Dog Chew Toy

Some dogs are more aggressive chewers. Think of those with solid jaws like Boxers or large dogs; these chew toys are great for those heavy chewers. They also help reduce plaque and tartar for cleaner teeth. 

You can use your dog’s chew toys for hide-and-seek toys. Just hide the toy and watch your dog seek it out! 

Plush Toys 

dog with hedgehog toys

Every good dog needs a fun plush toy for cuddly fun. Fortunately, Outward Hound has many favorite plush dog toys for your pup’s enjoyment. 

Hedgehogz Hedgehog Dog Toy

Dogs love this plush toy’s grunter and squeaky sounds. Some customers report buying two in different sizes so their furry friend can curl up with one and chomp on the other. With soft faux fur and minimal seams, these are durable toys. 

Hide a Squirrel 

Dogs and their parents love this plush tree trunk filled with stuffed squirrels. You can toss the squirrels for a game of fetch and teach your dog to pick up the squirrels and return them back to their trunk. Plus, each squirrel is its own squeaky toy for extra fun. 

Outward Hound Longidudes Unicorn Plush Dog Tug Toy

If you want a one-of-a-kind durable plush toy, choose the long unicorn. Made with K9 Tuff Guard technology ™, this is a long-lasting plush toy with three squeakers and crinkle stuffing for fun noises to keep your pup entertained for hours. At 29 inches long, you can even use it as a tug toy for a little interactive play. 

Ropes-A-Go-Go Cow Interactive Plush Dog Tug Toy

Ropes-A-Go-Go dog tug toys feature textures like corduroy and twisted rope that help clean your dog’s teeth. Inside are squeakers and crumpled paper to keep your dog entertained with the different sounds. Reinforced stitching improves the durability of this rope toy. 

Dog Ball Toys & Fetch Toys 

dog playing fetch

Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Fetch Ball With Rope

This 2-in-1 toy features a heavy-duty rubber ball on one end and a looped rope on the other. You can play tug-of-war with your pooch or toss it for him to fetch. This bouncing ball even has a minty flavor that freshens dog breath. 

Petstages Orka Flyer Flying Disc

The frisbee is a classic fetch toy, but traditional plastic frisbees crack and can hurt your dog’s teeth. This Orka flyer is made for dogs, so it flies but is gentle on your pup’s mouth when he goes airborne to capture it. 

Petstages Nubbiez Treat and Squeak Dog Ball

The Petstages’ Nubbiez Treat & Squeak Ball is a treat ball if you fill it with peanut butter or kibble. Active dogs love a food-dispensing toy, and it also squeaks, bounces, and even makes crunchy sounds if your dog chews it. 

Outward Hound Squeaker Ballz

Like a frisbee, every active dog needs a classic tennis ball dog toy. This multi-pack comes in various colors, so they’re hard to lose and perfect for a game of fetch. They also squeak and come in multiple sizes so that you can choose the size right for your pup. 

Launch A Ball Squeak Dog Ball Launcher

Many medium and large dogs love a good game of fetch. But if you’re anything like me, you don’t have much power in your throwing arm. The dog ball launcher fixes that problem. Just plop a dog ball toy into the cup at the end, draw your arm back, and heave-ho, you’re ready for the pitcher’s mound! Or at least good enough for your doggie. 

Slow Feeders 

slow feeder dog bowls

Not technically a dog toy, some dog owners like using slow feeders or puzzle bowls for their pup’s dog food because these bowls slow down pups in a rush at mealtime. These are washable, too! ur fun feeders are top-rack dishwasher safe.

As you can see, there are many types of active dog toys to keep dogs entertained, and your dog training will be easier with plenty of physical and mental stimulation. 

The key is to get the dog toys in rotation and make sure to choose ones suitable for your active dog. Some are great for active play like fetch, while others are fun interactive toys like Nina Ottosson’s puzzle games.

Will you choose a mix of rope toys, plush toys, or treat-dispensing dog toys? Which ones will be your dog’s favorite pet toy? You can find these and more at your local pet shop or online at Amazon and Chewy.