Kids & Pets

10 toys for dogs that will entertain, comfort and combat boredom

Go fetch.

A stick, a ball, a bone – these three items were pretty much the extent of dog toys just a few decades ago. Now, store shelves are lined with a dizzying array of obnoxious, colourful, noisy, light-up playthings to keep your pooch preoccupied. There are lick mats, snuffle mats, automatic ball launchers, chew toys and even intricate puzzles designed to keep dogs entertained at home alone while their humans are out working nine to five. 

Which toys do dogs love the most?

The answer to that really comes down to your own dog, their energy levels, their habits and their personality, says PetStock ambassador and pet behaviourist expert, Lara Shannon. “If they like to chew, then choose tough toys designed for chewers. If they prefer cuddles and comfort, and maybe even sucking on their toy, then soft plush toys can be good. Do they like to play, chase and need some extra enrichment in their day (most dogs need this)? Then choose interactive treat dispensing toys.

An energetic dog may love a toy they can chase around a big backyard. A clever dog may benefit from a class of toys known as ‘enrichment toys’ (think treat puzzles, snuffle mats and Kong treat dispensers) designed to stimulate their brain and stave off boredom. A dog that’s been gnawing on furniture left, right and centre, may benefit from an indestructible and irresistably tasty chew toy.

“Many anxious dogs like to have a soft toy they can suck on and knead with their paws to give them some comfort, so they can be useful to help calm and soothe a dog as well.”

5 dog toys Lara loves

Dog toys to avoid

Not all dog toys are created equal, says Lara, who says pet owners should avoid “cheap, chemical-laden plastic toys.” Instead, “look for BPA free toys made from tough, durable plastic.” Other dog toys to avoid include anything battery-powered (“these can be lethal if chewed and ingested by dogs”) or small items that may present a choking risk.

“If your dog is a chewer, avoid soft toys with squeakers inside, or else only allow during supervised play,” says Lara.

Some dogs are sensitive to noise, so always keep that in mind when selecting toys. “Don’t choose toys with a rattle or that is hard, if you have floorboards,” says Lara.

Durable dog toys for power chewers

Some dogs treasure and guard their soft toys with their life. Others (also known as aggressive or power chewers) will destroy them in an instant. “While no toy is totally destructible, there are some that are a bit tougher than others, so look for those designed specifically for chewers and therefore made out of tougher materials.”

If your dog is particularly aggressive with their toys, you can curb the behaviour with some positive reinforcement, says Lara. “Teach them the right way to play with their toy, rather than just leaving it with them and hoping for the best.”

Melbourne sustainable bushland home tiled fireplace
(Credit: Photographer: Marnie Hawson)

What are enrichment toys?

Enrichment toys, like interactive treat dispensers or treat puzzles, are designed to keep your dog’s brain and body active, says Lara. “Make sure you show them how to use it first and that you aren’t choosing one that is too hard,” she says, adding.

The best dog toys to shop Australia

Hugo Boss dog balls 3 pack

Hugo Boss dog ball set in white, $74.95

For some dogs, only the very best will do. These Hugo Boss dog balls are aesthetically pleasing and the handy 3-pack means you’ll have one for the car, one for the backyard and a spare to boot. They’re made tougher than regular tennis balls, which means they’ll withstand a strong bite. 


Lick mat in khaki

Dog lick mat in khaki, $16, Dog by Dr Lisa

Vet Dr Lisa Chimes’ own range of pet products is a gamechanger. This lick mat (which has suction cups on one side to keep it in place) will keep your pooch busy for ages. Smear it with peanut butter and let them lick away. Perfect for distracting your pet as you wash and groom. It’s dishwasher safe too, which means less mess for you to clean up. Also available in blush and light blue. 


Lexi & Me rope toy ring, $9.18

Show your dog some extra fun and attention with the Lexi & Me Rope Toy Ring! With a highly durable finish, this toy will keep your dog engaged and entertained with its stimulating textures.


Iris snuffle mat

Iris bloom snuffle mat, $54.99, Stylish Hound

You know that little dance your dog does when you grab the leash? They’ll start doing it every time you pull out this snuffle mat too. All you need to do is hide their favourite bite-sized treats within the petals and then set it down for your dog to ‘snuffle’ joyously.


Donut dog toy puzzle

ZippyPaws interactive puzzle donut slider dog toy, $20.99, Pet Circle

Tap into your dog’s natural talent for sniffing out treats. This clever toy is designed to combat boredom by keeping your pooch preoccupied for a prolonged period of time and the cute donut design won’t upset your home’s stellar style.


Kong puppy toys

Kong puppy toy, $15.71 (Medium, assorted colours), Budget Pet Products

The Kong wobbler is beloved by pet parents, vets and dog trainers everywhere. It’s an amazing all-rounder tool for exercising, training, stimulating and entertaining your dog. This version is perfect for puppies who are still honing their biting and chewing skills. Is your puppy all-grown up now? Buy the adult Kong in a size suitable for your dog.


Knitted lambswool dog toys

Ware of The Dog cherry pie and hamburger toy set, $65, Ssense 

For some dogs, only the very best will do. These Hugo Boss dog balls are aesthetically pleasing and the handy 3-pack means you’ll have one for the car, one for the backyard and a spare to boot. They’re made tougher than regular tennis balls, which means they’ll withstand a strong bite. 


Tasty bone

Tasty Bone nylon peanut butter trio, $40.99, Petbarn

It’s no secret that dogs love to chew. They chew to entertain themselves, to relieve stress and to relieve boredom. But if your dog has been chewing on something they shouldn’t be (furniture legs, skirting boards, indoor plants … the list goes on), try redirecting them towards a delicious toy instead. The tasty bone is a great option: it’s made from nylon that has been infused with human grade food flavours and has been designed with powerful chewers in mind.


Frank Green dog toy

Pet squeaky toy in lilac haze / neon orange, $15.95, Frank Green

The company that makes your favourite emotional support water bottle now makes them for your dog too. Made from recycled PET plastic, this toy is tear-resistant, easy-to-clean and makes a squeaky sound your dog will love. 


Rose plush dog toy

Tails rose bottle plush dog toy, $5.50, Big W

Enjoying a glass of vino at the end of a long day? Don’t drink alone! Toss this plush rose bottle toy to your pooch and let them snuggle the stress of the day away as you finally put your feet up and take a moment to yourself.


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