Dogs are an amazing addition to your family. They’re also a pretty needy addition, needing walks and cuddles and lots of playtime. That’s why, as a dog owner, finding the best toys for dogs to play with alone will have you wagging your tail, too.
What are our most favorite toys for dogs to play alone with indoors?
- Hero Playtime Rubber Kettlebell
- Classic Kong
- West Paw Zogoflex Hurley Dog Bone Chew
- Goughnuts Original Dog Chew Ring
- Nylabone Dental Dinosaur Chew
- Benebone Maplestick Chew Toy
- Starmark Treat dispensing chew ball
- Diamond Plate Orbee Ball
- Elk Antler Healthy Chew
- Pet Qwerks BarkBone Dog Chew Toys
- West Paw Zogoflex Bumi Dog Toy
- Titan Busy Bounce treat-dispensing toy
- ZippyPaws Skinny Pelts
- The Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel
- West Paw Design Zogoflex Toppl
- Snuggle Puppy
- ZippyPaws Burrow Squeaky Hide and Seek Plush Dog Toy
- StarMark Bob-A-Lot Interactive Dog Toy
- Smart Beginner Dog Puzzle Toy.
Why Should You Trust Our Choices?
I’ve had Boston Terriers for my entire life. Boston Terriers are notorious for three things: their attitude, the fur that smells like Doritos, and their need to be clingy, always. They don’t care if you’re pooping. They’re coming into the bathroom, whether you like it or not.
As an owner of these clingy dogs, it was imperative that we find something that could keep them entertained so that we could have seven minutes of peace before they came barreling down the hallway. Our first, Chowdah, wasn’t really into the whole “playing” thing, but he did enjoy a brain teaser and a snack. The two we have now, Goonwald and Trubble, are very food motivated, but they are also very playful.
We’ve tried every type of toy a dog can play with by themself under the sun, in several different categories. You should trust us because, as we’ve tried so many, we know much about quality as well as what type of toy will work best for different kinds of dogs.
Everybody Needs Alone Time
Having a four-legged snuggle buddy is absolutely the best feeling in the world (unless they snore), but it’s natural to want to chill by yourself for a few minutes. Just like a parent might want to hide in the bathroom to escape their human children, a dog parent might want to do the same for their fur babies.
Offering your dog options that will allow them to play by themselves can help you get the alone time you need to finish the dishes without a dog underfoot or take a bath without hearing the cries of your overdramatic, lonely pup.
Why Your Puppy Should have Toys to Play With
Dogs should not always be left to their own devices. Just like a child would, they crave your attention and affection. Unfortunately, as much as we would like to, we can’t be with our pets all the time. We have chores to do, errands to run, and people to see.
Giving your dog toys to help them stay occupied while you do what you need to do will help them build their independence. In doing that, you’ll be able to leave them home alone while you go to the store or finish the dishes without them on your back.
If you choose not to get toys that your dog can play with alone, you could run into some trouble when you try to leave them alone.
Since they won’t have a toy to keep them from noticing that you’re not in the vicinity, they might get upset and start to signs of boredom/seeking attention. These activities include wrecking your furniture, shredding toilet paper and tissues, tearing apart your leather shoes and practising general destruction.
An upset dog will only worsen their separation anxiety, since they’ll associate being left alone with being sad and destructive, which will get them yelled at. It’s an endless cycle that will result in an even clingier puppy and torn up throw pillows!
Another type of behavior that would be helped by playing with toys is if your dog has a bad habit of chewing rocks, stones or pebbles. Playing with your dog using a toy or leaving them alone with a toy, may address and underlying boredom and attention-getting behavior. If your dog likes chewing and eating rocks, stone and pebbles and you don’t know what to do, read this article.
The Advantages of Independent Toys
The best toys for your dog to play with alone open up an entire world of possibilities. If you offer them a toy that uses treats as motivation, they’ll both enjoy being left alone to eat them and stop coming to you for treats and scraps all the time.
Toys that dogs can play with by themselves can be used virtually anywhere, as long as you have everything you need. On long car rides with anxious puppies, having some kind of independent toy for your dog will help distract them, lessening their anxiety. However, if you have a dog that you know gets car sick, giving them a toy that dispenses treats is probably not the best idea, so going with their favorite squeaky toy or even a bone or chew is a safer play.
The Drawbacks of Independent Toys
As stated above, most dog toys meant for independent play will be geared toward food motivated puppies. Unfortunately, that has its setbacks hidden among the perks.
If you forget to clean out the treat dispenser after each use, things could get dirty, and your puppy could get sick from the old treats. make sure you get in the habit of cleaning treat-dispensing toys as you would your dog’s dinner bowl – every day – using a bottle brush.
Treat dispensing toys typically don’t go over well on car rides, especially with pups prone to motion sickness. Overuse of these toys won’t be great for dogs, either. There’s a reason treats are called treats. Too many of them can make the dog sick or cause unwanted weight gain.
How to Make Sure They Play Safely
Pets, in general, are definitely not a “set it and forget it” kind of deal.
Dogs are especially curious, so if you aren’t careful, they could wind up in some dangerous situations. Regularly checking in on your puppies and making sure you buy durable toys, especially for independent play, are crucial steps to keeping them safe.
Always check in on your dog as often as you can. Leaving them alone with a container full of their favorite treats might cause them to become impatient, which is when things get swallowed, and dogs get hurt.
The same goes for squeaky toys–a cheaply made squeaky toy and a dog left to its own devices could mean stuffing all over your living room and squeakers in their stomachs. And that’s an expensive vet bill!
How We Reviewed The Best Dog Toys To Keep Them Entertained
To make sure every dog owner could find the perfect toy for their pup, we thought it was important to explore a wide variety of toys. However, doing this was a long process, and there were a few criteria we used that helped us narrow our search just a little bit.
First, we wanted to find the most durable toys. In choosing the best toys for a dog to play with alone, we tried to include as many toys as possible that had no stuffing. Toys with stuffing can quickly create a disaster, and stuffed toys are usually not as durable as their non-stuffed counterparts.
Variety of sizes
We also want to offer up products with a little bit of variety, especially when it comes to sizing. A toy that works for my 22-pound Boston Terrier is probably going to be too small to entertain a 90-pound Golden Retriever for very long. Most of the products shown in this list will have at least two options for sizing, and the ones that don’t are a standard size so that every dog can play with it.
Reputable and accessible brands
The last thing we considered while compiling this list is the brands the products come from. When it comes to dog toys, shopping from reputable brands is a safer bet than buying from off-brands. Because most of the best toys for dogs to play with alone have food in them, it’s essential to know that the toy contains no chemicals that could get your puppy sick.
The Best Toys for Dogs to Play Alone With
After taking a long, hard look at the market for the cream of the crop, we found five dog toys that stand out in the crowd as the best toys for dogs to play alone with.
In compiling the list, we tried our best to include something for dogs of all types, so that you could find something for dogs with any specific interests.
Since we’ve actually had all of these toys for our spoiled boys, you’ll get some insight into what the toys are like in an environment with smaller dogs.
|#||Category||Check Current Price|
|1||Best all-rounder outdoor toy (fetch, tug and chew on land or water)||Hero Playtime Rubber Kettlebell|
|2||Most favorite overall classic chew||Kong|
|3||Most favorite bone-shaped chew||West Paw Zogoflex Hurley Dog Bone Chew|
|4||Most favorite ring chew||Goughnuts Original Dog Chew Ring|
|5||Most favorite novelty chew||Nylabone Dental Dinosaur Chew|
|6||Most favorite wood chew||Benebone Maplestick Chew Toy|
|7||Most favorite treat ball||Starmark Treat dispensing chew ball|
|8||Most favorite treat ball (runner up) (Just because you can never have enough balls if your dog is mad about them)||Diamond Plate Orbee Ball|
|9||Most favorite edible chew||Elk Antler Healthy Chew|
|10||Most favorite edible chew (runner up) Good for variety!|
Pet Qwerks BarkBone Dog Chew Toys
|11||Most favorite tug of war chew||West Paw Zogoflex Bumi Dog Toy|
|12||Most favorite treat-dispensing chew (runner up) which also bounces. Great if you have stairs.||Titan Busy Bounce|
|13||Most favorite squeaker plush toy (with no stuffing)||ZippyPaws Skinny Pelts|
|14||Most favorite squeaker plush toy (with stuffing)||The Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel|
|15||Most favorite floatable treat-dispensing toys||West Paw Design Zogoflex Toppl|
|16||Most favorite comfy toy||Snuggle Puppy|
|17||Most favorite hide and seek toy||ZippyPaws Burrow Squeaky Hide and Seek Plush Dog Toy|
|18||Most favorite wobbling treat-dispensing toy||StarMark Bob-A-Lot Interactive Dog Toy|
|19||Most favorite Nina Ottosson interactive dog toy||Smart Beginner Dog Puzzle Toy|
2. The Kong
The Kong is a cult classic choice for treat-dispensing toys.
Kongs come in several different sizes, so you can buy one and fill them up with enough treats to support your dog’s size. They also make Kong toys specifically designed for smaller-mouthed puppies. Kong uses a rubber that supports chewing, so you won’t need to worry about the dog destroying the toy.
In addition to being one of the best toys for dogs to play with alone, you can play with them together, too. Since they’re made entirely of rubber, they’re very bouncy. That makes them great for an impromptu game of fetch.
We actually have a few of these lying around our home, which we fill with peanut butter on a regular basis. We have a regular one for the older dog and a smaller one for the puppy. They’ve survived several trips, a lot of chewing, and an incredible amount of fetch-playing.
|Durable||No brain-teasing aspects|
|Several sizing options||Easy to lose|
|Bouncy||Needs a clean on a regular basis|
|Good for dogs that like to chew||Hard to clean|
13. ZippyPaws Skinny Pelts
Sitting in my living room right now, I can see five of these around me: the fox, two of the raccoon, and two of the squirrel. These toys are our dogs’ favorite toys to play with alone, and they work for us, too.
These toys have no stuffing inside. It’s just pure squeaker, which is great if your dog is a notorious destroyer of plush toys.
Each toy has three squeakers inside, giving them the maximum amount of squeaking possible. Finding the squeakers will keep the dog entertained in itself, so you can expect that between hunting for these toys and actually squeaking the squeakers, your pup will be preoccupied for at least a few hours.
|A few sizing options||Noisy|
|Washable||Not for food motivated dogs|
|Suitable for lightweight chewers||Suitable for small to medium sized dogs|
|Can be used to play together||Not suitable for aggressive chewers|
|No stuffing, no mess when chewed|
You get 3 no stuffing toys that squeak: fox, raccoon, and squirrel.
They are made in China using a felt-like material.
An aggressive chewer would destroy these quickly.
14. The Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel
My puppies love these.
Unlike other puzzle dog toys, what you pull out of the puzzle isn’t food. It’s tiny stuffed squirrels that you hide in the tree for them to sniff out. The squirrels also squeak, so when your dog pulls one out, they spend a good amount of time squeaking the squirrel once they find it.
Outward Hound’s product comes in a bunch of different sizes. The smaller sizes come with three squirrels (Junior size)that you can hide in the toy, while the largest version (Ginormous size) comes with six squirrels. With this toy, even smaller dogs can play with larger sizes, but larger dogs might tire of smaller versions quickly since they do come with fewer squirrels to find.
|Innovative puzzle toy||Noisy|
|Involves squeakers as well as brain teasers||Not for food motivated dogs|
|Suitable for lightweight chewers||Suitable for small to medium sized dogs|
|Extensive size range||Not suitable for aggressive chewers|
|No stuffing, no mess when chewed||Pieces get lost easily|
Since the squirrels can get lots or destroyed, you can buy replacements separately.
I’d recommend some supervision with this toy. If your dog is an aggressive chewer, do not leave your dog alone with this toy.
The Best Brands for Your Best Buds
As we’ve stated, having the best toys for dogs to play with alone is an all-around good idea for everybody. However, when choosing these kinds of dog toys, brands do matter. Dogs don’t just play with their paws; they play with their mouths.
If you opt for a toy from a less than reputable brand that doesn’t disclose where their products are made or produces them in a place with health codes that are more relaxed, you could be exposing your dogs to chemicals and toxins that aren’t good for them. The pet toys we chose to include all come from brands with clear histories, missions, and overall will care about the health of your puppy.
KONG has been a brand trusted by dog lovers for over 40 years. They began in 1976 in a town called Golden, Colorado. Their first product to hit the mouths of dogs everywhere was the classic red KONG, and immediately, people began to love them. KONG products are versatile and are now available in a variety of sizes.
Since KONG (listen, the company capitalized it like that) toys are made of rubber, there needs to be extra care taken when assuring the quality of the products. Rubber that is mass-produced in factories isn’t always the healthiest choice for your pet, but KONG goes above and beyond to help you stay confident in your KONG toys.
Almost all of KONG’s products are made in the United States of America. However, there are three that aren’t: Air KONG toys, KONG Plush toys, and KONG Wubba toys. Even though these aren’t manufactured in the States, KONG assures its customers that products that are being manufactured overseas in China are following the same rigorous health codes as the ones here.
ZippyPaws is a brand that has a unique method of creating dog toys that quickly pushed them to the top. ZippyPaws was founded by a college student and her family in 2011 in California. The reason the brand was created was so that their dogs could have the best possible toys for playing, whether it was playing together or playing alone.
All of ZippyPaws’ products are hand-designed by a team of artists in California before they send them to China for the actual manufacturing. Even though the products are made in China, the design artists hand-pick the materials that go into making the products and quality testing them.
The brand specializes in plush toys with squeakers, so quality testing is rigorous. In addition, the brand designed a new type of squeaker that squeaks louder and in more ways. If you’ve ever heard a ZippyPaws toy squeak when you’re trying to get some sleep, you know just how well those things get their squeakin’ job done.
Other than the excellent brand name, Outward Hound makes products for both cats and dogs, and their focus is on solving problems. Outward Hound actually acquired Planet Dog early on, beginning product sales in 1995, while Planet Dog burst onto the scene a few years later.
Knowing that the two brands mostly work as one means that, with Outward Hound, you’re also getting the benefits of clean products that you are with Planet Dog. Outward Hound tries to focus on creating products that will solve problems in your home, like an overly-eager-to-scratch cat or a dog that eats just a little too fast, while Planet Dog focuses more on the sustainability and cleanliness of the brand as a whole.
Like KONG, Outward Hound is based in Colorado. That’s where all of their products are designed. Most of the product designs are then sent off to China for manufacturing purposes, though there are some that are made in the United States.
Regardless of where the products are made, they all undergo the same intensive testing to make sure all of their products are up to snuff.
Looking for toys that your dog can enjoy outdoors? Take a look at our epic list of 17 best dog toys to be enjoyed outdoors.