Best puppy toys 2023 for keeping young dogs entertained

Puppy chewing on a toy
(Image credit: Getty)

Buy the best puppy toys and you will soon see how much joy they give to your pooch. As well as aiding a puppy through its teething stage, toys can stimulate young dogs mentally and physically. There are also scientific reasons why puppies love playing so much. 

By chasing a toy, for example, a puppy doesn't need to run after prey. Toys can also alleviate boredom and help get a puppy to sleep through the night. They can even help you to better bond with your pet or, with the best teething toys for puppies, for example, help alleviate health-related stresses. 

As researchers have discovered, dogs form a multisensory mental representation of their toys and, according to a study published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, toys help improve your pet's motor skills while providing a suitable substitute for other behaviors. 

“Puppies need toys just like children do,” says veterinarian and pet behavior consultant Dr Joanne Woodnutt MRCVS. “They provide mental stimulation, learning through play, and an outlet for their chewing instinct.”

Indeed, a rubber or nylon toy will ease sore gums while soft cuddly toys can attract and then distract, especially when combined with a squeaker. And if you want to test your puppy's intelligence, then why not check out the best dog puzzles?

The best puppy toys you can buy right now

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Best puppy toys: Kong Wild Knots Bear

(Image credit: Getty)

KONG Wild Knots Bear

Best overall puppy toy

Specifications

Materials: Rope, Plush
Type of play: Comfort
Includes stuffing: Yes
Includes sound: Yes
Suitable for: Small breeds

Reasons to buy

+
Minimal stuffing for less mess
+
Durable internal rope design 
+
Cute

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite small
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Not ideal for larger breeds

In terms of our overall favorite puppy toy, it takes a lot to beat the KONG Wild Knots Bear (opens in new tab). Not only is it cute – just like your puppy itself – it’s made from durable materials to help make it last. 

The KONG brand is well-known for producing tough toys and is a favorite among many dog owners (and their dogs of course). For puppies, this sweet bear has a number of advantages. The internal design features a sturdy rope that makes up the “skeleton” of the bear. This helps to give it a great shape but is also a pleasurable texture for your puppy to chew. 

The external plush material is reinforced so it should take even the strongest of puppies some effort to get through to the ropes and the squeakers inside. For those that do manage to break through the barrier, there’s a minimal amount of stuffing inside to help cut down on the mess that tends to get left behind.

Depending on the size of your dog, there are various sizes available for your puppy, including extra small, small/medium, medium/large, and extra-large. We’d recommend matching the size of the toy to the size your dog will eventually be, as this is a toy that should last them beyond puppyhood (depending on how destructive your dog is). 

One downside of this toy is its relatively high asking price, compared with some other puppy toys on the market. However, when you consider how well it has been made and how long it should last, it’s easy to argue that it represents good value for money.

Gumby Plush Filled Dog Toy

(Image credit: Amazon)

Gumby Plush Filled Dog Toy

Best budget puppy toy

Specifications

Materials: Plush
Type of play: Chewing, Comfort
Includes stuffing: Yes
Includes sound: Yes
Suitable for: All breeds and sizes

Reasons to buy

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Great price
+
Ideal for cuddle and play
+
Contains squeaker

Reasons to avoid

-
Not suitable for aggressive chewers

We know, you've never seen such a strange-looking toy in all your life, right? And yet, believe it or not, this rather simplistic green man named Gumby is proving to be an absolute hit with puppies around the world.

Measuring 9-inches and coming in at under $3, this toy is filled with a plush stuffing and comes with a squeaker for extra entertainment value. It's suitable for all breeds and is great for cuddling and play.

Because of the softness and coziness of Gumby, he's the perfect toy if you have a puppy who's suffering from separation anxiety, although he's not super tough or durable, so we don't recommend him for aggressive chewers. 

Best puppy toys: Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Puppy Hide N' Slide Green Interactive Treat Puzzle Dog ToyPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Puppy Hide N' Slide Green Interactive Treat Puzzle Dog Toy

Best premium puppy toy

Specifications

Materials: Plastic
Type of play: Puzzle
Includes stuffing: No
Includes sound: No
Suitable for: All breeds and sizes

Reasons to buy

+
Provides mental enrichment
+
Intermediate-level fun
+
Non-slip base

Reasons to avoid

-
Older puppies may find this puzzle too easy

Outward Hound's Puppy Hide N' Slide is a level 2 intermediate puzzle designed to challenge your young puppy's mind while offering plenty of incentives in the form of hidden treats.

The design of the puzzle encourages your puppy to figure out how combined actions result in a reward and it's a great way of stimulating their brain and tapping into their exploratory instincts. Puzzles are also ideal for banishing boredom, so if your puppy wants to play in a moment where you don't have time, giving them an activity that's both physically and mentally enriching is a great choice.

We love that this puzzle offers two different levels of challenge, so you can adjust to suit your puppy's age and developmental stage. For an easier game, you can swivel the flippers off the track and just leave the blocks for your puppy to push with their nose which will reveal the treat. Or, for more of a challenge, close the flippers as well so your puppy has to push both to find the treat.

Made with a non-slip base and a durable composite wood and plastic design, this puzzle is built to last and it's also BPA, PVC, and Phthalate-free and easy to clean with warm water and soap in between uses.

Best puppy toys: ChuckIt Ultra Squeaker Ball Small

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ChuckIt Ultra Squeaker Ball Small

Best puppy toy for fetch-lovers

Specifications

Materials: Rubber
Type of play: Fetch
Includes stuffing: No
Includes sound: Yes
Suitable for: Small breeds

Reasons to buy

+
Small size ideal for puppies 
+
Ultra-durable 
+
Loud squeaker appeals to puppies

Reasons to avoid

-
Very small

Most dogs like to chase balls, and if you’re lucky, some will even bring them back too. When you’re trying to train your puppy how to play fetch, larger balls designed for adult dogs can be a little overwhelming and hard to pick up. These small balls are perfect for puppies (and smaller dogs), while the ultra-loud squeaker inside can help train your dog how to play.

Made from a very durable rubber, ChuckIt balls are expensive but will easily outlast most other dog balls on the market. If you’ve got a puppy who generally destroys or chews up balls that it likes to chase, it’s worth giving a ChuckIt a go – several dog owners report them lasting for years. 

Among the great features of the ChuckIt Ultra Balls are their ability to bounce high, which makes for a lot of fun if your dog likes to chase and jump after balls. They also float, so you can take them to the beach, river and so on and feel confident that you won’t lose the balls. They’re also easy to clean should your dog like to play in less than pristine conditions.

It’s worth noting that the squeakers inside the ChuckIt can be fairly easily destroyed if you have a particularly destructive dog, so it’s perhaps worth investing in a separate squeaker if you intend to use the sound as part of your training program. You can buy ChuckIt balls without a squeaker, too, if you prefer quieter toys.

Nylabone Teething Puppy Chew

(Image credit: Amazon)

Nylabone Teething Puppy Chew

Best durable puppy toy

Specifications

Materials: Nylon
Type of play: Chewing
Includes stuffing: No
Includes sound: No
Suitable for: Small breeds

Reasons to buy

+
Great for dental hygiene 
+
Ideal for teething 
+
Delicious beef flavor

Reasons to avoid

-
Not suitable for extreme chewers

Encourage positive chewing habits right from the start with this puppy chew toy from Nylabone. Ideal for easing pain during the teething stage, this non-edible bone comes flavored with beef to encourage your pup to latch on.

Measuring 3.75-inches long and 1.5-inches wide, it’s perfect for small mouths and the flexibility of the toy ensures your pup’s teeth get a good clean while they chew. It’s also made from a softer puppy-friendly nylon that prevents damage to your young dog’s mouth.

We love that this toy has been designed with an easy-to-hold shape and the four textured chewing ends gently massage the gums, helping to relieve the discomfort that comes with teething. It’s also a great comfort toy if your pup suffers from separation anxiety. 

Best puppy toys: IFOYO Dog Play Mat

(Image credit: IFOYO)

IFOYO Dog Play Mat

Best playmat puppy toy

Specifications

Materials: Various
Type of play: Chewing, Comfort
Includes stuffing: Yes
Includes sound: Yes
Suitable for: Small breeds

Reasons to buy

+
Lots of activities to keep your dog entertained 
+
Machine washable 
+
Anti-slip bottom

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive compared to smaller toys 
-
Takes up space

If you want to tick off lots of toys with one purchase, then this playmat could be a good option. It’s one product, but it features lots of different toys around the edges to give your puppy lots of different types of stimulation. 

There’s chew toys, soft toys, toys with squeakers in and lots of different textures to give your dog a fun experience no matter which they go for. It’s all contained within one mat, so although it takes up quite a bit of space on your floor, it can be quickly picked up and put away, too. The bottom of the mat has a non-slip surface so if your house has hard floors it’ll be easy to use. 

As well as being a suitable play mat, you could also use the toy as a sleep mat – which is another thing your puppy will definitely be fond of doing. Since puppies are not known for their cleanliness, another top feature of this playmate is that it’s easy to wash – you can simply chuck it in the washing machine too. Another potential use of the playmat is to help keep other surfaces in your home – such as sofas – free from fur and dirt. 

This is another toy which isn’t super cheap, but, considering it’s basically six toys in one, you could argue that it offers good value. Some users have also reported that super destructive dogs can make light work of some of the attached toys – which is something to be wary of depending on what your dog is like.

Best puppy toys: kong puppy teething toyPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Kong)

KONG Natural Teething Rubber Puppy Toy

Best puppy toy for teething

Specifications

Materials: Soft rubber
Type of play: Chewing, Comfort
Includes stuffing: No
Includes sound: No
Suitable for: Medium breeds

Reasons to buy

+
Multi-functional
+
Soft but tough material
+
Durable
+
Trusted brand

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be messy and smelly

Our top-rated pick for best teething toys for puppies, the KONG Natural Teething Rubber Puppy Toy is a great choice owing to its soft rubber formula that's specially formulated to help soothe a pup's baby teeth and gums.

Anyone familiar with the KONG brand will know one of the key selling points here is the ability to stuff it with your pet's favorite gooey treats making it just as fun for owner as it is for pup.

It's an ideal dog chew toy, perfect for distracting them from chewing through your entire household, but it's also a fantastic mental game keeping them entertained for hours. 

Let your furkid dig out the contents to their heart's delight or play a round of fetch; the durability of the rubber will withstand even the roughest canine teeth, whilst being soft enough to soothe them.

Just be sure to clean it often as your canine's appreciation for his or her new toy, combined with an assortment of funky fillings, could lead to unwanted odors in the home. 

best puppy toys for separation anxietyPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: SmartPetLove)

SmartPetLove Snuggle Puppy Behavioral Aid Toy

Best puppy toy for anxiety

Specifications

Materials: Plush
Type of play: Comfort
Includes stuffing: Yes
Includes sound: Yes
Suitable for: All breeds and sizes

Reasons to buy

+
Snuggly design
+
Comes with a disposable heat pad
+
Variety of colors available

Reasons to avoid

-
Sensitive dogs may be frightened by the pulsing heartbeat feature

Whether your pup's just joined the family or is having trouble with their crate training, the SmartPetLove Snuggle Puppy Behavioral Aid Toy is perfect for relieving anxiety in your four-legged friend.

Its snuggly design looks simply adorable in your pup's paws but it's more than just a plush toy. Simply open the belly pouch to pop in the heart-shaped heat pack to provide extra comfort.

The Snuggle Puppy looks to recreate the intimacy of a dog's mother with a 'real-feel' pulsing heartbeat, a nifty extra that could end up being a lifesaver for you too if your canine struggles to settle and cries through the night. 

Sensitive dogs may find the sound alarming, but the ability to add and remove the heart is a useful feature that will be appreciated by pet owners looking to tailor their puppy toys to their dog's preferences. 

KONG Puppy Flyer Dog ToyPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Kong)

KONG Puppy Flyer Dog Toy

Best frisbee puppy toy for outdoor play

Specifications

Material: Rubber
Type of play: Teething, Exercise
Includes stuffing: No
Includes sound: No
Suitable for: Large breeds

Reasons to buy

+
Suitable for all breeds
+
Easy to throw
+
Great opportunity to bond with your pup

Reasons to avoid

-
Does not float in water
-
Not for destructive breeds

When you've got a new family member in your household, you'll want to spoil them with plenty of affection. What better way to bond with your pup then a game of fetch? Alongside its core range of highly durable dog and puppy toys, Kong also have a Puppy Flyer Dog Toy designed especially for baby teeth. 

While it's made from rubber to ensure it doesn't fall to pieces the minute your pet pooch catches it, it's created to be soft on their mouths. In fact, the Kong Puppy Flyer Dog Toy is the softest option within their rubber toy range, just perfect for teething puppies.

It's this clever design point, however, that makes it also unsuitable for particularly destructive breeds. If your pooch is prone to tearing their toys apart, take a look at our durable dog toys selections instead! 

Otherwise, this handy toy is perfect for hanging out in the backyard or park alike, just be cautious if you decide to take it to the beach as this flying toy is liable to get lost in the waves, never seen again. 

Hartz Dura Play BallPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

Hartz Dura Play Ball

Best floating puppy toy

Specifications

Materials: Latex
Type of play: Fetch
Includes stuffing: Yes
Includes sound: Yes
Suitable for: All breeds and sizes

Reasons to buy

+
Smell of bacon
+
Float on water
+
Able to bounce

Reasons to avoid

-
Owners may not like the squeaking

These fun balls have been designed for puppies and small dogs under 20lbs and, as well as being gentle on young mouths, they've also been created to be long-lasting. 

As such, they're something of an investment, not only proving capable of withstanding some aggressive chewing but also seeing your pups through a crucial life stage.

Rubber rings around the ball are perfect for when your pooch is teething and they're sure to be attracted to have a chew by the balls' smell of bacon. As well as helping to keep those gnashers clean, they gently massage the gums. The balls also bounce which makes for some fun fetch sessions and, since they come in vivid colors, your pooch should have no problems locating them.

If your pup has already taken well to water, then you can use the toy for some “splashing” fun, too, since the balls are capable of floating. And because they squeak, they're going to encourage hyperactivity, ensuring your puppy will get a terrific workout. All in all, balls that will enthrall!

Should my puppy always have toys?

It's certainly the case that your puppy does need toys. It will prevent them from becoming bored but whether or not a puppy should have toys all the time is another question entirely. 

It's quite possible that dogs can become blasé about their toys if they're always around and having too many can also be overwhelming, meaning a puppy may not know which one to play with. 

It's better, then, to only bring out the toys when you feel a puppy will benefit and to ensure you only allow a handful of them to be available at any one time so that your pooch's interest in each one remains high. 

“It’s generally a good idea to give your puppy free access to at least one toy, especially when they’re going through a chewing phase,” says veterinarian Dr Joanne Woodnutt MRCVS. “However, keeping most toys hidden away and rotating them stops them from becoming boring.”

You may not want toys around when it's mealtime, so that a puppy's focus is on food rather than play. And unless the toys are robust, you should try and supervise play sessions rather than always leave puppies to their own devices.