Top 10 Must-Have Dog Toys
There’s an expansive world of toys waiting for your dog to explore—and to destroy. Fortunately, we’re here to help you avoid coming home to the find the grisly deconstructed remains of the toy that arrived just yesterday, looking so charming and fluffy.
Navigating through the dog toy landscape can be a challenge, with cute stuffed animals and endless varieties of balls and frisbees all clamoring for your attention.
We've cut through the clutter to present you with ten must-have dog toys, with a few bonus toys along the way.
First, here are some of the reasons to buy dog toys:
- Intellectual Stimulation
- Stress Relief
- Dental Health
Types of Toys
Toys are for more than just fun bonding time with your dog. They can be used effectively as training tools, and even as meal providers. Toys can be especially useful if your dog is going to be alone for an extended period.
As much as we crave time with our dogs, sometimes they want to play at the most inopportune times. This scenario is where distraction toys can be useful. The most common distraction toys are chew toys, and you’ll have no shortage of options in this area.
Creative treat-dispensing toys are among the best for keeping your dog engaged for an extended period. These toys can be useful both for fun and for training your dog to flex his/her brain muscles.
While almost every toy can be used for training purposes, some toys have been designed explicitly as training tools for your dog. A fun example is Trixie Pet Toys which are intended as treat-seeking strategy games. You place treats inside the toy, and your dog must figure out what he needs to press for the treat to be revealed. Trixie has a variety of these games available in varying difficulties.
Fetch toys are for you and your dog to play with together. The most common toys for fetching are balls and frisbees.
You’ll sometimes hear controversy over whether you should play “tug of war” with your dog. Tug of war can be a fun game for your dog, but make sure to teach a command word for ending the game. Also, try to use specific toys for this game so that your dog doesn’t think that every toy is meant for tugging. A durable crowd-pleasing tug toy that did not make our list below is the Bumi with Zogoflex by West Paw.
Durability is King
There's nothing worse than buying a dog toy, and within an hour you turn your head to see the scattered remains of what you thought was a smart purchase. Avoiding this situation is all about knowing how your dog will interact with certain toys. As a rule, most every plush toy is going to eventually die a messy death if left alone with a dog that likes to chew.
The problem that can arise is your dog ingesting something it shouldn’t, like the plastic squeaker that was so much fun for them to find.
When considering a toy to buy, durability is the number one concern for two reasons: nothing is more important than your dog’s safety, and what’s the point of buying a toy that doesn’t last longer than a day?
Without further delay, here are the top 10 must-have dog toys, along with some honorable mentions at the end:
CLICK ON ANY TOY TO LINK TO PURCHASE
A frisbee is a must-have dog toy for most dogs, and the Chuckit! Flying Squirrel features a unique design that elevates it above other frisbees on the market.
The Flying Squirrel is technically not a frisbee at all. With four outstretched paws and a raised back, the toy resembles a flying squirrel soaring from tree-to-tree. This unique aerodynamic design leads to maximum lift, and it also makes the toy much more accessible to pick off the ground than a traditional frisbee.
Bonus Toy: There’s also an Indoor Squirrel with has a smaller, lighter design but it’s equally popular among dog owners and can be yours for under $7.
9. KONG Wobbler
The Kong Wobbler is a classic interactive treat-dispensing toy that can provide hours of delightful distraction and holds up to the test of time.
The top half of the Wobbler comes off to quickly fill with kibble or treats. Your dog then must knock the Wobbler over enough that goodies come out the hole on the side. The wobbling action results in endless entertainment for both you (who gets to watch) and for your dog.
The Wobbler can also be used to feed your dog an entire meal depending on size.
This toy checks almost every box for what you’re looking for in a dog toy. Number one, it’s incredibly durable. This toy is perfect for aggressive chewers. The fun from the Tux comes from its unique shape, which causes it to bounce unpredictably. Most importantly, it’s interactive and distracting for your dog.
Need to get something done, but your dog wants to play? Fill this up with some goodies, bounce it on the ground and free yourself up while treating your dog to a playful and rewarding game. The Zogoflex by West Paw is made in the USA, dishwasher safe and is 100% guaranteed against dog damage by the manufacturer.
The reason we rank this ahead of the Wobbler is due to the fun factor. While the Wobbler is generally stationary, the Tux is fun for your dog to bounce around the room as he tries to get every last treat out.
Available in small and large sizes.
The endlessly entertaining tricky treat ball is like the West Paw Tux as a treat dispenser that will exercise both your dog’s body and brain. The tricky treat ball gets the higher ranking than the Tux because as a ball it has higher replay value. It's also harder to get the treats out. The Tricky Treat Ball gives your dog more of a challenge while also providing a more extended distraction.
Available in small, medium and large sizes.
A common theme on this list is versatility. Toys that provide a variety of uses or have multiple playable parts.
The KONG Scrunch Knots Raccoon was engineered with a unique design that features the plush animal exterior stitched over a multi-knotted rope.
Eventually, the raccoon will likely be torn off the knotted rope, but without stuffing, you’ll be left with a minimal mess, and now your dog has two different toys at his disposal.
The TailTeaser by Outward Hound is a universally loved toy that is perfect for indoor exercise.
The TailTeaser comes with two plush squeaky toys that attach to the end of a nylon cord which you control with the pole. By bouncing the toys around the TailTeaser mimics prey and dazzles your dog with lifelike movements.
The TailTeaser can be a useful training tool for teaching your dog to release on command, without you having to grab ahold of a slobbery toy.
The Hide-A-Squirrel is one of the highest reviewed toys we’ve ever seen, and it makes sense. Not only are the little squirrels undeniably cute, this toy is both an interactive brain teaser for your dog, and the squirrels double as fun fetch targets.
Amazon's Choice for: "dog toys for boredom."
Honorable Mention: The ZippyPaws Woodland Friends Burrow
The Nylabone gets the prominent #3 ranking due to its extreme durability. No matter how durable some toys claim to be, certain dogs usually can find a way to destroy them over time. Destroying a toy not only causes a mess while burning a hole in your pocket but most importantly a destroyed toy is a safety hazard for your dog. The value of a toy that is virtually indestructible cannot be overstated.
The Nylabone comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and flavors. The original is a steal of an add-on item on Amazon for under $6.
The original KONG is a classic, must-own toy for dog owners. Due to its unique shape, the KONG will bounce in unpredictable directions, providing your dog with endless hours of chasing entertainment.
The KONG excels due to its versatility and durability. KONG’s rarely get destroyed and can also be useful as treat dispensers.
Staff Tip: Sometimes when leaving the house for a few hours and I know my dog may have to deal with a late dinner I’ll stuff a KONG full of kibble and put some peanut butter over the top to seal in the goodness.
Available in a variety of sizes.
There is no dog toy more useful than a Chuckit! Dog Ball Launcher. Packaged with a durable Chuckit! tennis ball, this launcher is perfect for using with other tennis balls around the yard, or with any other 2.5” ball.
The launcher not only lets you throw the ball a lot further than you could on your own, but it also saves stress on your arm and makes picking up balls off the ground a breeze.
When I’m sitting down, my dog has the uncanny ability to drop the ball just short of my reach and having the launcher by my side is invaluable in keeping the good times rolling. I also don’t mind that this allows me to exercise her from the comfort of a chair.
Another great benefit is that using the launcher keeps your hand clean, which is pretty clutch after a long slobbery play-session.
Featuring a wide variety of benefits, the Chuckit! Dog Ball Launcher cracks the number one spot on the list due to the limitless value it provides.
There are so many dog balls on the market that it's hard to justify a place on the top 10 for any single one, but my personal favorites are Orbee Tuff style balls by Planet Dog.
The snowball is always a fun and durable toy to play with, although at 3” it is slightly heavier than some other Orbee balls. A noteworthy feature of the snowball is its incredible durability. Its unique shape also makes for fun bounces.
For a lighter, glow in the dark Orbee Tuff ball, my dog personally loves this 2.5” ball infused with mint oil.
Some of the most fun toys can be old items around the house. Tennis balls are a timeless classic loved by dogs and are perfect for using with the Chuckit! Launcher. You can buy a bag of 18 durable balls for under $13 here.
Another toy that some dogs have a surprising amount of fun with is an old deflated basketball. These are durable and make for a fun and safe chew toy.
Toys as Treats
Toys can be a great alternative to treats. If your dog is motivated by their favorite toy, it can be a reward for when they perform a command or do an activity. This is how most working K9's are rewarded on the job and is especially useful if your pup is on a diet!