A busy dog is a good dog.
One of the best ways to keep a dog engaged and out of mischief, is by investing in some fun dog toys. Remember though, that expensive dog toys do not necessarily mean that they are good, safe, or fun.
Before getting a toy for my dog, I always do some research to make sure it is safe and durable.
Always supervise a dog when he gets a new toy.
Consult with a vet if there are any safety concerns.
The best dog toys are the ones that will capture our dog’s interest, and exercise his mind.
My dogs love playing most with their interactive food toys.
Food is a prime motivator for my dogs. It not only encourages them to play with the toy for a longer period of time, but also put in the extra effort to figure out how it works. They love trying different push, bite, and roll strategies, to find the fastest, most efficient way to get at the food. They return to the toy time and again, because there may be more rewards in there, waiting to be found.
Here are a list of interactive food toys that work well with my dogs (a Shiba Inu and a Siberian Husky). Note that the following descriptions are only based on my own experiences. Different dogs have different temperaments, and will respond differently to a dog toy.
1. Hol-ee Roller Ball
These balls are great and safe for the teeth. All we have to do is get some hard dog biscuits, and stuff them into the ball.
There are two versions of the Hol-ee Roller Ball – the regular ball which has thinner rubber joints, and the Extreme-Ball which has thick rubber joints (shown in the picture to the right). I much prefer the extreme version because it is more challenging, as well as more durable.
Originally, I filled this dog toy with Large Innova Health Bars, which worked very well. However, I stopped using them after getting my Siberian Husky, because she is allergic to oatmeal. Instead, I am currently using Baa-Baa-Q’s lamb lung.
Note – There was a voluntary recall of Innova products on March 2013.
2. Kong Rubber Toys
Kong rubber toys are tough and safe for most dogs.
I usually put canned dog food into a Kong Classic rubber toy, and then freeze it. This is a fun way to occupy my dog, especially when he is in his crate.
Sometimes, I further entice my dog by dropping in some cheese or sardines, before putting in the canned food. This provides the extra umph that gets him to work through the Kong.
Another fun Kong toy is the Kong Jump’n Jack. I stuff kibble or boiled chicken into the grooves of this two toy, and let my dogs chew on them.
We can also use Kong Stuff ‘N Paste, but I personally would not recommend it. The Kong paste frequently makes a mess all over the floor, and is not made from particularly good ingredients.
3. Premier Busy Buddy Collection
My dogs like many of the Premier Busy Buddy interactive food toys. However, note that in 2010, Premier was sold to Radio Systems Corporation (Petsafe), which is a leading manufacturer of electronic collars, invisible fences, and other pain based training equipment. As a result, some trainers and owners now choose to avoid Premier products.
The Twist and Treat is a good one to start with. Simply untwist the dog toy, put kibble inside, then twist the cover back on. At first, do not twist the cover on too tightly. In this way, our dog gets rewarded well for playing with the toy. Once he gains some experience, we can start tightening the lid more.
CAUTION: My Shiba Inu was able to tear off chunks from this toy when it was left with him unsupervised. Luckily, he just likes shredding and does not eat the shredded bits. It is best to take this toy away, once our dog is done with getting all the kibble out.
The Squirrel Dude is another fun dog toy that we can fill with kibble or other treats. If our dog has trouble getting the food out, we can cut off some of the rubber tabs at the bottom of the toy.
I have a full 4 tabbed Squirrel Dude, which I fill with little pieces of kibble. I also have a 3 tabbed Squirrel Dude that I fill with kibble and some larger, higher priority treats, e.g. freeze dried liver treats.
The most interesting one in the group is the Tug-a-Jug . I think it is hardest to get food out of this toy, so my Shiba Inu will only work on it when he is bored or really hungry, and does not have access to other food toys. My Siberian Husky, however, seems to really enjoy this one.
Initially, I unscrew the cover from the bottom of the jug, and fill it up with a good amount of kibble (over half full). This ensures that my dog is amply rewarded for playing with the toy. After he gains some experience, I slowly reduce the amount of kibble in the jug. It is difficult to get the last bits of kibble out, so I add more before the jug becomes too empty.
4. Buster Cube
In the beginning, I put the Buster Cube setting to maximum, so that my dog will be motivated to play with it. As my dog learns how the toy works, I slowly decrease the cube setting to make it more challenging.
When filling the cube, make sure all the kibble goes into the holes around the central column. Otherwise, the kibble will just collect at the bottom of the column. Then, when the Cube gets rolled, all the collected kibble will come out at once.
The Buster Cube does not work well on slippery, hard, surfaces (e.g. tile floors, wooden floors), because it will only slide on the floor, rather than roll. As a result, no food will come out. I use the Cube on carpeted surfaces and the backyard.
5. Rhino Stuff & Chew
This nice rubber chew ball has chambers all around, that we may fill with food. It is most effective to use wet food, such as sardines, or boiled chicken. Sardines work really well with my Shiba, and he is extremely motivated to get it all out.
I normally give him one of these at night, for going into his crate. I also give him a Greenie to help clean his teeth.
6. Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball
The Omega Treat Ball is a great kibble ball. It is easy to fill with kibble, and the ball only releases a few pieces of food at a time. As a result, this toy engages my Shiba for a good amount of time.
If you are looking for more ideas, here is a list of other fun dog toys including chew toys, tug toys, balls, frisbees, and homemade toys.
7. Cheap Dog Toys
I have found many good deals on Amazon by looking through their discount dog toys. Here are some 50%-70% discount dog toys at Amazon. If you want to do this yourself, here are the steps.
For this to work well, you may want to join Amazon Prime to save on shipping and handling costs.
Katrine Kenyon says
We have a 5 month old Labradoodle puppy that is fine when I am home, but when I leave her with my husband and son she goes ballistic. We have only had her for 3 weeks. She scratches at the front door, jumps on the couch, chews on everything, claws up the window coverings, etc. How can we help her be comfortable without my presence? My husband and son are very loving with her, but her behavior is stressing us out.
Your help is greatly appreciated!
Thank you, thank you, thank you! Just found this. Am going crazy trying to occupy 3-month old husky who loves all food, and our back yard is trashed from a week’s full of rain in IL, so can’t play much outside yet!
im just pet sitting for the x-mas holidays and i want to give the little shiba inu pico im looking after a big preasant with dog treats and toys so this has been very helpful thankyou merry christmas
What a lucky shiba! 😀 Merry Christmas Cali!
My 4 year old Shiba, Bodhi, almost never plays with his toys. Rarely he will play tug with my son. He much prefers to rough house with us and run around the house.
Recently we took in another Shiba, Duke. Duke is 11 months old and we are dog sitting for the foreseeable future. Duke loves toys. Mostly softballs and baseballs. He loves to tear the cover off, or drop them down the stairs so that he can fetch them and bring them back up.
Bodhi now decided he wants to play with his toys out of jealousy. The pups get along pretty well, despite Duke annoying Bodhi from time to time with puppy antics. They wear each other out very well with wrestling and sprinting laps around the back yard, weaving slalom courses in between the trees.
I’ve never tried interactive food toys, as I am a little worried about stained furniture and carpets. Maybe I’ll give some of these a try. Dogs, just like people, could always be happier.
Another thing that is interesting about Bodhi is his strange behavior with treats. He will not eat a treat that is hard or crunchy unless he is in is cage. He will run around the house, holding it in his mouth looking to bury it while whining. If I break it up into little bits he will eat it. Otherwise, in order to eat a whole treat he must be in his cage. Any thoughts on this?
I have a almost 10 months old shiba boy called Suzu. He has a kind of simular behaviour. When I give Suzu a spesial treat, like a dryed and smoked bone or dried pig ear, he will do the same. He runs around in our backyard while whining. He wants to take it in the house to hide it in his cage. When that doesn’t work out for him he will burry it in the garden by shoveling soil on it with his nose. I think shibas are so close to nature that they feel like saving food for worse times.
Maybe the cage for Bodhi feels like the only save place to eat his treat without the threat of another predator that could take his treat away? Like could happen in nature with a prey. Than it is a question of life or death, no food no survival. Suzu gets upset when I give him the bone. He wants to take it to a save place in the house. I don’t allow him because I don’t want the greasy thing on my marble floor. So to be honnest, the bone is no fun for him like it should be. And also not for me. It should be fun to give your dog a treat. It is frustrating for both of us so I let the bone where it is now, in a paper bag in the garage. Maybe I try again later.
Ok, I couldn’t let it. I gave Suzu the bone again. He acted like befor, so I took it from him. A few minutes later I gave it again but kept holding the bone on one side. Then Suzu started likking it at tried to bite some tissue of. Then I layed it on the ground still holding it and Suzu layed down still chewing on it. Carefully I let loose then and he continued chewing on it.
It was like he had to learn. Did he miss mommies lecture about how to tear a prey and eat it together with his shiba familly?
My Shiba is the same way. If I give him a high priority chew or food item that he cannot finish quickly, he will get stressed and run around trying to hide it. He did that even when he was an only dog. It is an instinct with him, which I call the “bury bone” syndrome. 😀
Like you, I put my dog in his crate, where he feels safe and protected. In this way, he can finish his chew at his leisure. If he doesn’t finish it, then he lets me have it back and I keep it safe for him. Setting up a routine also helps with my Shiba. For example, if he knows that he always gets access to his chew in his crate at night, then he is more relaxed about it.
KONG toys I have the best luck with keeping my Husky entertained. Expecially the weable-wable styled ones. He knocks and bats that around for ours. But I just usually fill them with treats, I should try to useing his food instead since he showing little interest in it in a bowl lately.
Thanks so much for this! I have a Shiba and a Malamute and have been looking for some toys to keep them busy now that my husband and I both work outside the home. I’ve been feeling bad because they seem so bored when we’re gone, but hopefully some of these toys will help!
How long can a toy poodle hold it’s pee or poop? My dad will not install a dog door and no one can stay at home to let it out so I’m very worried that it will urinate around the house or on our new couch.
How long is your puppy going to be left alone every day? What will your dog’s daily routine be like?
A puppy does not know that he needs to go outside to potty, so it is up to us to teach him what our human rules are. Potty training requires time and supervision. Smaller dogs may need to potty more frequently, so greater supervision may be needed.
In addition, a new puppy will require a lot of training, supervision, and socialization, so that he grows up to be confident and balanced. An adult dog still requires good daily exercise and the company of his people.
I enjoy being with my dogs very much, but they are a big time commitment.
I have a question regarding the Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball. I’ve been feeding my dog out of one for years and it suddenly occurred to me that the plastic may not be a good choice for him to eat out of. Does anyone know if its BHPA free etc.?