Interactive Dog Toys – Save Money by Buying the Right Ones

This past holiday season I went a little crazy buying toys for our two dogs, Tana and Kaya. I spent about $100 of which about $90 of that was a total waste. We’d like to share with you what we learned about dog toys so that hopefully you can make more informed decisions about the toys you buy. When buying toys this year I focused on “problem solving” or “interactive” toys thinking my dogs could benefit from having toys that stimulated their brains. I don’t know if I’m crazy, after all there are tons of products on the market focused on doggie problem solving, but maybe the jokes on me. Do dogs really benefit from intellectually stimulating toys or is it just hype to get me to spend more $$$? In any case, I bought 6 separate toys which we’ll review below. We’ll give you the pros and cons of each and grade them on a scale from 1 to 5 dog bones.


Tana – Dog extraordinaire. Loyal friend to humans, loves stuffed animal toys with squeakers and any toy her sister Kaya has in her possession.

Kaya – a youngster who loves chew toys. She has small teeth but can give a “virtually indestructible” toy a good run for it’s money.

Mom, the purchase decision maker and translator.

Nina Ottosson’s Dog Pyramid

Here’s what the makers of the Dog Pyramid have say about it: “The DOG PYRAMID is perfect for occupying and stimulating your pet. Each time the dog moves or knocks the pyramid greatly it is rewarded by the release of food. Simply place the treats or dry kibble into the toy and watch as the dog enjoys the challenge! The Pyramid is weighted at the bottom to make it always self-right to a vertical position, no matter how enthusiastic the game. Ultra-tough and durable. Will stand up to even the most aggressive play.” Cost $12.00. Pros – it is ultra tough, and does self-right itself as advertised. My dogs could not get their mouths around it enough to damage it in any way. Or maybe they just didn’t try hard enough – see cons. Cons – my dogs lost interest fast when they couldn’t get the treats out. I only put a few dozen treats in, I didn’t fill it up which I’m sure would make it easier to get them out. I will experiment with that more. After the initial few minutes of play that toy hasn’t been touched since. Grade – Three Bones

The Atomic Treat Ball from Smarter Toy

Here’s what Smarter Toy, the manufacturer, has say about it: “Keep your dog mentally stimulated, physically active, healthy and happy.” The Atomic Treat Ball comes in 3 and 5 inch versions. I purchased the 5 inch ball. Learning level – Smart. Cost $6.99. Pros- Kaya loved to play with it and found it easy to get to the treats. Since she destroyed it within the first hour, Tana never even got near it. Cons- the toy only lasted an hour or so. Kaya chewed the top making the original hole, which was less than an inch in diameter more like 3 inches in diameter, basically making the challenge to get treats null and void. Typically Kaya chews toys without swallowing the pieces. This time she swallowed the plastic pieces and later threw them up, oh happy day! Grade – One Bone

The Busy Buddy Treat Dispensing Tug-a-Jug

Made by Premier Here’s what Premier has to say about it: “The Tug-a-Jug provides a multi-sensory appeal to keep your dog interested and motivated to play. It stimulates your pets sense of sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste, making Tug-a-Jug the ultimate solution for interactive play. Dogs are positively rewarded for their play when treats dispense from the jug’s opening.” I purchased the Tug-a-Jug in the small size. Cost $12.00. Pros- The toy is adequately indestructible, although I suspect eventually Kaya will chew through the rope. The packaging comes with some clever instructions for dealing with that possibility. The Tug-a-Jug kept both my dogs entertained for hours and they were able to get the treats out and seemed to enjoy the sport of it all. Cons- Once they got the treats out of the jug they lost all interest in the toy. Grade – Three Bones

The Kong Genius

I have purchased many type of Kong’s – this is the latest in their line of toys. Here’s what they have to say about it: “KONG Genius is their newest line of interactive treat dispensing toys. Genius toys come in three sizes and two shapes, and can be interconnected to create new configurations for added challenge. Made in the USA of a durable, non-toxic, FDA food-approved TPR material, these toys are perfect for average chewers. Use with any KONG StuffN product, including KONGs new IQ Treats, made of 100% baked salmon. Or, fill with food and use as an dog toys hong kong engaging mealtime feeder. Dishwasher safe, KONG Genius toys help combat boredom and separation anxiety, and are great for puppies and adult dogs alike. Measures 9.5 x 5.5 x 2.8-inches.” The Kong Genius comes in a variety of colors and in sizes extra large, large and small. Prices range from $7.00 – $16.00. I purchased the Kong Genius in small. I also purchased the Kong IQ Treats made of baked salmon. I purchased the Kong Genius for $10.00. Pros- So far indestructible. Kaya got to it first and chewed and chewed till she got all the salmon treats out which took some time so I thought the toy scored big on being a challenge and not being too easy. I haven’t tried the interconnected shapes, but plan to experiment with that. It has proven so far to be indestructible. Tana and Kaya like the Kong Genius so much I went out and bought a second one so they each would have their own. That doesn’t mean they still don’t fight over them or try to steal them from each other, after all, dogs will be dogs. I also found that lots of different kinds of treats fit in the Genius so there’s always a variety of options. You can also put their kibble in the Kong if you’re concerned about giving them too many treats. It’s a great way to keep them entertained when you are away. Cons- So far no cons, they love this toy, and I do too. Grade – Five Bones.

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