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5 Best Dog Toys for a Bored Pup (2021 Review)

Dogs need both mental and physical stimulation to keep them healthy and happy. Toys can be a fantastic way to provide both, while also having a great time with your pup. Nothing is better than watching your dog’s mind work and seeing their tail wag while they’re completely engaged in a toy.

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What is the Best Toy for a Bored Dog?

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Comparing the Best Toy for a Bored Dog

IMAGE RECOMMENDED PRODUCTSPRODUCT FEATURES


  • Best puzzle toy
  • Variety of puzzle types
  • Mentally and physically stimulating


  • Best plush puzzle toy
  • Plush, squeaking hedgehogs to play with
  • Plush den to create a puzzle


  • Best adjustable puzzle toy
  • 2 levels of difficulty
  • Great for all breeds


  • Best for large breeds
  • Available in 2 big sizes
  • Encourages exercise


  • Best chew toy
  • Strong and durable
  • Interesting shape and flavor

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More Detailed Bored Dog Toy Reviews

Trixie Activity Flip Board Activity Strategy Game Dog Toy review

Features

  • Best puzzle toy
  • Variety of puzzle types
  • Mentally and physically stimulating

The Trixie Activity Flip Board Activity Strategy Game Dog Toy is one of the best toys for bored dogs. Unlike some puzzle toys, there are a variety of puzzle types in one toy to get your dog’s mind working. Your dog must figure out to access the treats you put in each section.

As your dog moves around to access the puzzle, the toy also provides some physical exercise. At a very reasonable price, I’d recommend this toy for small to medium breeds, best suiting those who have some experience with puzzle games. My Pomeranian loves the challenge of this puzzle board, her tail doesn’t stop wagging as she tries to figure out how to access her treats.

Pros

  • Variety of puzzle types likely to keep dogs mentally engaged for longer
  • Non-slip rubber feet help to keep the toy in place during play
  • Great option for puppies – just make sure to keep them supervised
  • 2 levels for beginner and intermediate levels of mental stimulation so you can choose what’s best for your dog
  • Can be used with a variety of small treats or your dog’s kibble – perfect for slowing your dog’s feeding down if they’re prone to inhaling their food

Cons

  • Small, removable parts can pose a choking hazard, meaning you can’t leave your dog alone with this toy
  • Not suitable for dogs who are prone to chewing as they may destroy the plastic
  • Less physical stimulation than other options
  • Some owners found that the toy was too easy for more intelligent breeds like Jack Russells or German Shepherds
  • Size of puzzle pieces may be tough to play with for the smallest toy breeds

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ZippyPaws Burrow Squeaky Hide and Seek Plush Dog Toy, Hedgehog Den, Puzzle Set review

Features

  • Best plush puzzle toy
  • Plush, squeaking hedgehogs to play with
  • Plush den to create a puzzle

The ZippyPaws Burrow Squeaky Hide and Seek Plush Dog Toy, Hedgehog Den, Puzzle Set is an ideal puzzle toy for pups who enjoy something plush. 3 small, squeaky, plush hedgehogs can be hidden inside their den. My dogs had hours of fun digging them out and playing with them.

The toy’s puzzle aspect provides a mental challenge, while the squeaky toys and digging motions provide that all-important physical activity. This is an excellent choice for small to medium dogs who are light to average chewers. My dogs found this plush puzzle toy very exciting, interactive and engaging, and it even comes at a low price.

Pros

  • Provides both plush and puzzle elements, creating multiple ways to play
  • Machine washable, which makes cleaning easy
  • Mentally and physically challenging to engage your dog for long periods
  • A great option for supervised playtime with a puppy
  • Squeaking element provides additional stimulation

Cons

  • Not suitable for dogs who are prone to heavy chewing
  • Not very mentally challenging for dogs who are experienced with puzzles
  • May not be suitable for unsupervised play
  • May not last the duration if your dog is prone to chewing

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Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Smart Puzzle Game Dog Toy review

Features

  • Best adjustable puzzle toy
  • 2 levels of difficulty
  • Great for all breeds

The Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Smart Puzzle Game Dog Toy is a brilliant toy choice for dogs who are just getting started with puzzles. You can hide treats under plastic bone shapes which your dog has to figure out how to move. The puzzle provides both mental stimulation and some physical activity.

The puzzle is even adjustable with an option to raise the bones for beginners or to lower the bones, making them even with the board to increase the difficulty. I found that the ability to change difficulty levels was great to accommodate my 3 (very different) dogs.

This toy is great for any breed of dog, although it’s not designed to be chewed. At a very reasonable price, this puzzle is great value for money.

Pros

  • 2 difficulty levels to cater to dogs at both beginner and intermediate level
  • Provides both mental and physical stimulation to keep dogs interested for longer
  • Can be used with a range of treats or to feed your dog their meals, which helps dogs to eat slower and promotes healthy digestion
  • Highly durable, even with rough play
  • Perfect for training puppies and keeping them entertained

Cons

  • Not suitable for heavy chewers
  • Detachable parts can pose a choking hazard, so you can’t leave your dog alone with this toy
  • May be too simple for dogs who are experienced with puzzles
  • Not dishwasher safe, making it harder to clean
  • Lightweight, which means it can be easily tipped over

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KONG Jumbler Ball Dog Toy review

Features

  • Best for large breeds
  • Available in 2 big sizes
  • Encourages exercise

The KONG Jumbler Ball Dog Toy is one of the best dog toys to tackle boredom, especially for active dogs. With an interior tennis ball that moves around as your dog plays and a loud squeaker, this toy will have your dog excited in no time! It’s perfect for tug and fetch games, with handles on each end for easy grip (which I find very handy).

The toy is excellent for average chewers and suitable for medium to large breeds. The features of this toy provide mental stimulation as well as a ton of exercise. The KONG range is always a big hit with my dogs. This toy has a slightly higher price tag than other options, but I feel it’s well worth the price.

Pros

  • Amazing for both mental and physical stimulation
  • Good for both interactive and solo play
  • Tough enough for average chewers
  • Handle makes playtime easier
  • Squeaker and tennis ball provide extra excitement

Cons

  • Won’t stand up to power chewers as they may bite the pieces off
  • Can be easily destroyed by very rough play
  • Less durable than other KONG toys

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Nylabone DuraChew Dental Chew Chicken Flavored Dinosaur Dog Chew Toy review

Features

  • Best chew toy
  • Strong and durable
  • Interesting shape and flavor

The Nylabone DuraChew Dental Chew Chicken Flavored Dinosaur Dog Chew Toy provides a fun way to introduce some chewing fun into your bored dog’s life. The uneven texture, interesting dinosaur shape, and chicken flavor will keep your dog’s mind engaged for hours.

This toy is perfect for small to medium breeds, designed to stand up to the toughest of chewers. Nylabone chews are always a favorite in our house! Perhaps most exciting for owners, this toy is an exceptionally low price, so is perfect for those on a budget.

Pros

  • Stands up to aggressive chewers
  • Long-lasting and keeps dogs entertained for hours
  • Some owners found this chew was great for puppies, especially during teething
  • Flavor and shape keep dogs coming back for more
  • The raised nubs and shape are great for dental care

Cons

  • Once the toy is destroyed it can pose a choking or blockage hazard, so must be taken away from your dog immediately
  • Older dogs or those with fewer teeth may find this toy too tough for chewing
  • Not suitable for some average or gentle chewers, as it can be too hard
  • Many owners find the chew smaller than they expected
  • Some owners feel this toy requires supervision during play

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Things to Look for in a Toy for a Bored Dog

While shopping for a toy to ease your dog’s boredom, there are a few things you should consider to help you make the best choice:

Quality of Materials

Choosing a toy made of high-quality materials helps it to last longer, meaning you get the best value for your money, and your dog can keep playing with their new favorite toy for longer.

Right Size for Your Dog

The right size of toy for your dog means that they can make the most of it, enabling them to fit it comfortably in their mouths and play with it properly.

Both Physical and Mental Stimulation

A dog needs both mental and physical stimulation to keep their attention. The best toys to help with boredom will include features to provide both types of stimulation. For example, a chew toy gets dogs moving their mouth while other features, like taste and texture, engage their mind. A puzzle toy challenges them to think of a solution while also encouraging them to use their paws and mouths to solve the puzzle.

Encouraging Natural Behaviors

Toys that encourage natural behaviors such as foraging for food, chewing, hunting, and chasing, can help to keep your dog interested for longer.

The Importance of Keeping Dogs Physically and Mentally Stimulated

The American Kennel Club explains: “Originally, different dog breeds were bred to have different jobs. Even companion breeds were meant to spend all day with their humans.” While some dogs still do essential work, most are our beloved pets. The majority of dogs are apart from their owners for part of the day.

That isn’t a bad thing, but it means that we have to replace the stimulation they would have had if they were out working or by their owner’s side all day. Keeping your dog both mentally and physically stimulated, ensures they don’t get bored and that they are happy with their life. It’s also crucial for their health, with activity keeping many health issues at bay and allowing them to be healthier for longer as they age.

Finally, keeping your dog engaged and happy prevents them from trying to entertain themselves, which often leads to destructive behaviors. A dog who isn’t getting the stimulation they need is likely to display unwanted behaviors such as chewing up things around the house, barking excessively, getting into places they shouldn’t, and digging up your garden, for example.

Why Your Dog Might Be Bored

Your dog might be bored because they are not getting enough physical exercise. Consider your dogs breed and do some research into how much exercise they need. It might be time to increase their walks and playtime!

If you know your dog is getting enough exercise and is still bored, it may be because they aren’t getting enough mental stimulation. Puzzle toys, creating challenges around the house, getting them involved in some new training, and playing interactive games with your dog are all great ways to solve this problem.

General Dog Toy Safety Advice

No dog toy is indestructible, so it’s advisable to monitor your dog during playtime. Pick a toy that is the right chew strength for your dog. If the toy breaks, it’s time to take the toy away from your dog.

Dog Toys for a Bored Pup FAQ

Is it safe to leave your dog home alone with a toy?

Yes, some toys are safe to leave at home with your dog. Choosing the right strength of toy is vital. Never leave your dog at home with a toy with small removable parts, as this poses a choking and obstruction risk. If you plan to leave your dog alone with a toy, it’s a good idea to test it out while they’re supervised first. If your dog usually quickly destroys toys, it’s best not to leave them with a toy unsupervised.

How can you tell if your dog is bored?

If your dog is often displaying unwanted behaviors, seems restless, or is continually seeking your attention, then it’s likely they’re bored or frustrated. An animal care teacher of mine once told me that a tired dog is a happy dog, meaning if your dog is sleeping peacefully between walks, meals, and playtime, they’ve had enough stimulation.

Can a toy fix your dog’s boredom?

A good toy will help to ease your dog’s boredom, but it won’t fix the problem completely. It can be beneficial when you’re busy and can’t give your precious pooch your full attention. However, your dog also needs enough exercise, as well as attention and interaction from you.

Conclusion

The right toy can help provide your dog with the physical and mental stimulation they need, alleviating their boredom and leaving you with a much happier pup. It can also be a real delight to watch your pet engage their mind with a good toy.

References

Stephanie Gibeault, MSc, CPDT, (2019), “Bored Dogs: How to Recognize Doggy Boredom (and Help!)” American Kennel Club.

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