HEALTH & CARE

Dog Toys to Keep Them Busy: Keeping Your Dog Entertained When You’re Not Around

Dog Toys to Keep Them Busy
Wyatt Robinson
Written by Wyatt Robinson

When you’re at work, your dog could feel very lonely at home. We know that all you think about while outside the house is your dog. Stuff like what’s your dog doing, if he’s hungry, if he’s sad, what is he playing with, or worse, what is he chewing up inside your house go over your mind all the time. It would be a very bad welcoming sight to get home and see that your couch has been chewed off by your best friend.

Well, we’re here to let you know that there are several ways you can lessen your worrying and keep your dog happy while you’re not around to interact with him. There are several types of dog toys that could keep your dog busy for the entire day. These are generally called interactive dog toys or sometimes, enrichment toys. For more information on these toys, see our guide on choosing first-rate enrichment toys for your furball.

Toys for dogs

Interactive dog toys are different from common dog toys as they may have one or all of these characteristic:

  • they make unusual sounds – usually from squeakers or just crinkled plastic inside a stuffed dog toy;
  • create unusual movements – from toys that are able to bounce independently or those that have dangling and moving parts or unusual texture
  • release unusual contents – could be a toy that can dispense dog treats

These characteristics are intended to hold your dog’s attention for hours and hours at once. Below are a few examples of interactive dog toys that could work for your pooch while alone:

  • The Kong – one of the most classic and most well-known among all the interactive dog toys to date. It is a chew toy that is made of a certain type of rubber that is nearly impossible to destroy. The creator of this toy based it on a part of his Volkswagen’s bus suspension that his German Shepherd friend found extremely entertaining.
    This very interesting toy can be filled with different kinds of treats. Kong also sells different kinds of uniquely shaped dog treats to stuff the toy with. However, you can use anything that your dog likes. Be it hamburger meat, peanut butter, cheese, or just anything that your dog is particularly attracted to.
  • The Dog Casino– This toy, created by Nina Ottosson is also one of the most popular interactive toys for dogs. It helps enhance your dog’s problem solving skills and improve your dog’s mental cognition.
    Your pooch will learn to wait until told to start playing, find items hidden inside the puzzle pieces and enjoy the fruit of their labor by the treats that get dispensed. If this toy doesn’t look appealing to you (or Fido), there are other similar toys like: the Dog Brick, Dog Twister, Dog Spinny and Dog Treat Maze.
  • Rag Rope Ball – This interactive is a combination of both a ball and a rope. This one is very long lasting and great for puppies that are very inclined to chewing whatever they see. The advantage of this toy compared to the typical dog ball is that it does not roll very far since it has ropes dangling from it. The ropes can keep the dog’s attention since they could have several options of where to chew on. These ropes are also ways for your dog to carry the toy around or toss for more fun.
  • The Orka Chew– This toy is one that can perform several functions. It can bounce, it can be chewed on thanks to its several arms, and most importantly, it dispenses treats. The Orka Chew is made from a durable and non-toxic rubber material which is shaped like a jack so it bounces whenever your dog releases its grip. Another advantage of this toy is that it is very durable so it is suitable for dogs that are serious chewers.
    The Orka Chew has an unusual texture which helps to massage the gums and keeps your dog interested. It also helps minimize your dog’s destructive behavior by channeling their energy to the toy and satisfying their chewing habits. Other versions of the Orka Chew come with dangling ropes to add more fun to the experience.
  • The Bob-a-Lot – This toy has a weight on the bottom so it does not bounce around but instead, wobbles around. It comes in several sizes to choose from to correspond to your dog’s size. The picture below shows how a Bob-a-Lot looks like. The yellow top can be screwed off so the toy can be filled with kibble or any treat that your dog is used to. The treat will be dispensed from the small hole at the bottom.
    If you want, you can put your dog’s whole meal inside so that meal time will be way longer than normal. This will help your dog to be entertained throughout the whole time that you are not at home and also ensure that they don’t get hungry during the day. Kong also makes a similar toy called the Wobbler.

These are the most popular dog toys, but if you want something to get their attention even for a longer time, you should consider next toys.

The Bob-a-Lot

And also you can buy them on Amazon or make some of them at your home.

  • The Tug-a-Jug – This interactive toy can also be filled with kibble or other small and hard treats. This toy can be unscrewed from the bottom to put in the treats and they are dispensed from a narrow hole at the top. The top also has a rope which sticks out and dispenses food as the dog pulls on it.
    It also comes in several different sizes that would fit any dog no matter how big or small. The only downside to this toy is that the rope could be easily destroyed. Plus it could be very noisy when the dog continuously tugs at it and creates banging sounds. So it is recommended to use this toy if your floor is carpeted or if you aren’t bothered by this kind of noise.
  • The Waggle – The Waggle is another treat dispensing toy where you can stuff dry food inside. The toy is shaped like a small barbell and the treats can be stuffed on he rounded ends of the barbell. Then the treats fall out irregularly as your dog shakes the toy in its mouth. Another toy of this kind is the Chuckle which is made by premier but is sturdier and has a squeaker inside. So this toy is a combination of unusual sound, unusual contents and unusual texture.
  • The Tricky Treat Ball – The Tricky Treat Ball is nearly the same as the Bob-a-Lot. The difference is that this toy is shaped like a ball and has a big hole inside where you can put treats in. Then these treats fall out of the hole as your dog rolls it around or pushes it. This toy will surely keep your dog entertained as he will keep hoping that there are still treats left to be dispensed inside even when all the treats are gone.
    Also, what makes this more interesting for your dog is that it is shaped like a ball and we all know how much our doggie friends like balls.
  • Everlasting Fun Ball – The Everlasting Fun Ball is another round dog toy that can be filled with kibble or any other type of treat. The difference of this toy from all the other treat dispensing toys is that the treats in it are more of a challenge to get out. Plus it does not generate as much noise as the other toys since it is made of a soft but durable material.
    However, this toy is not recommended for those dogs that are serious chewers since they have the tendency to pierce through this type of material. There are several kinds of Everlasting Fun Ball available together with different types of treats with different shapes that you can fill the ball with.
  • Talking Dog Toy – This type of toy is not recommended for those serious chewers as they are not very durable. This is also true for those toys that light up. So if you already know that your dog is not a serious chewer, you can purchase this toy for him. The Talking Babble ball is an example of this, as well as the Animal Sounds X-Tire. Remember that these toys are good only for light chewing, so if your dog is capable of just light chewing, his attention will surely be captured by the unusual talking and sounds from inside the toy.
  • Buster Cube – The Buster Cube is yet again another treat dispensing dog toy. This toy is made out of hard plastic material which is very good for those extreme chewers as it does not come apart as easily. But, like the typical treat dispensing toy, this one can also be noisy as your dog rolls it around or bounces it on the floor.
    But what makes this toy unique from the others is that you can adjust the level of difficulty for how easily your dog can get the treat from the inside. You can do this by increasing or decreasing the size of the hole from where the treats are dispensed. The inside of the toy is quite large so you can fit in a fair amount of treats for your dog to last the whole day or even until the evening. This interactive toy also comes in several sizes depending on the size of your dog’s mouth.
  • Dog Popsicle – This toy cannot be purchased from any retail store as it is home made. You can do this by first getting a Tupperware or any other plastic container. Put in some chicken broth, some treats or any other type of food that your dog likes such as peanut butter for example. Then you put it in the freezer and let it freeze overnight.
    In the morning, when you are preparing to leave for work, you can run some water on the plastic container to pop out the frozen doggie Popsicle and put it out for him to enjoy. This is a great way to keep your dog hydrated and satiated throughout the day. You can also use this to ease your dog’s separation anxiety. When you do this, his sadness upon your departure will be lessened as he will have something to look forward to when you leave.
  • Busy Bucket– A busy bucket is another homemade dog toy that will keep your pooch busy and enjoy when you’re not at home. You can make a busy bucket by taking out a strong plastic or aluminum pail and putting in some kibble or treats at the bottom of the pail. Fill the empty space with a towel and continue staking any kinds of toys or towels in the pail which will excite and develop your dog’s problem solving skills. As your dog endeavors to get to the fragrant treats at the bottom, he will be able to find layers and layers of fun while he’s at it.
  • Exercise – If you do not have any type of toy for your dog to play with, you can expend their energy by taking them on an exercise before you leave in the morning. You can go for a run around your neighborhood or in the park. This is a good way for you and your dog to bond and it is also a way for you to find some time to exercise for yourself.
    If some of your dog’s energy is expended in the morning before you leave, he won’t be so bored throughout the day since there is a good chance that your dog will get tired during the exercise and he can use the time he is left at home to rest. So there will be a smaller duration of time for him to find something fun to do while waiting for you to get home.

There you have it! Some toys and activities that you can do with your dog to keep them entertained during the day.

These activities and toys are essential especially if you always leave your pets alone at home during the entire day for several days a week. Being left at home, with no one to interact to, can make your dog depressed and sad. It can also be a cause for a negative change in behavior and they could become more aggressive or more destructive as a result. Some pet owners are discovering the benefits of doggy massage which was expertly tackled from our previous post that is an interesting read.

Dogs need to expend their energy so it is typical for them to be more active and destructive when you come home from work in the evening or afternoon. This is not a very good scenario for you since it most likely that you are tired from work and you do not have much energy to play with your dog. So having activities for your dog to do alone at home.

Dog toys

But bear in mind that you must exercise caution with providing your dog with toys to play with while he is all alone. Like all treats and toys, you should monitor your dog’s usage before deciding to leave him alone for long periods of time with that toy. It is very important to first study how your dog is interacting with the specific toy and treats to ensure that he is using it properly and you are not putting your dog in harm’s way by his improper usage of the toy.

Another thing that you have to consider when buying your dog a toy is that you get the proper size for the corresponding body size and mouth size of your dog. This is true especially for toys like the Kong and the Tug-a-Jug which could cause some problems along the way if you do not get the right size.

For example, if the Kong you got for your dog is too small, it could result to your dog swallowing the toy or having the toy stuck to his throat. Then this would be a very big problem since it would mean that he would have to wait several hours more for you to arrive and to rescue him

Kong Dog toy

So if you are planning to purchase any of those toys mentioned above or any other similar toy to keep your dog busy during the day, you must reflect on the words of caution mentioned. This will not only keep you dog from harm’s way but will also keep your mind off worrying if your dog is safe with the toy or treats that you left him to play with. If you feel that your best option is a DIY toy, then our guidelines on how to make an inexpensive and customized dog toy is your best bet.

Most of the pet owners are very worried about how their pets are doing when they are left at home. With some effort on your part and a huge amount of love and care for your pet, you can find several ways to keep your pet entertained throughout the day while you are at work or doing any other activity that would entail you being out of the house for long periods of time. You may want to consider taking care of low energy pooches that don’t require too much exercise  which is a popular piece that we’ve written just for you.

About the author
Wyatt Robinson
Wyatt Robinson

Wyatt Robinson had a great 25-years career as a veterinarian in United Kingdom. He used to be a member of British Veterinary Association and worked in 3 pet hospitals in London and Manchester. He is shining when he sees his pets healthy and full of energy and it is his duty to help other dog owners to keep their best friends full of life.

  • Liz Fraser

    These toys look great, I’ve encountered a few in my local Petshop. I’m worried about the lead and the durability though, some (like the omega tricky treat ball one) seem like a few bites could very well break them!

    • When a dog toy is ridiculously cheap, I don’t really recommend buying it. Ask for durable and reasonably priced ones that are made of high-quality material that is not very painful on the pocket.

  • Jemma Mayer

    I’m really worried that our dogs would develop destructive habits (mischief, chewing on furniture, etc) mainly due to boredom. I guess it’s time for a trip to the pet store and bring home some toys that would occupy them!

    • Toys are very effective options to channel out their boredom and not chew other things around the house. It is really important to keep them busy, or entertained with the toys that they have.

  • Emily B.

    A very good list. The main thing before purchase is to check the quality of toys and paint.
    Everything should be reliable and without toxic materials.

  • Thanks for the kind words, Emily! Yes, the toys that we must choose should be durable and non-toxic. It is important to keep them safe and busy.

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