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Best Enrichment Toys for Herding Dogs

A border collie tongue out sitting next to the blue herding dog on a grassy backyard
A Happy Dog With A Favorite Toy

Herding dogs are highly intelligent and energetic breeds that require a lot of physical and mental stimulation. Enrichment toys are a great way to keep them mentally engaged, prevent boredom, and promote good behavior. These toys provide mental exercise while satisfying their natural instincts to herd and work. In this guide, we will discuss the top enrichment toys designed specifically for herding dogs.

Understanding the Herding Dog Breed

Herding dog breeds are a group of breeds that have been bred for centuries to work alongside humans in herding and managing livestock. These dogs are known for their high energy, intelligence, and intense focus. They have an innate desire to work and excel at tasks that require problem-solving skills. Owners know that dog's natural herding instincts are deeply ingrained in their genes.

However, without proper mental and physical stimulation, they can become bored, and anxious, and exhibit destructive behaviors.

10 Most Popular Herding Dogs

A Dog sitting on a herding ball on a wide grassy land
A Nice Day to Herd a Herding Ball

  1. Border Collie: Known as the workaholic of the herding breed dog world, Border Collies are world-renowned for their intelligence and agility. they were bred for herding sheep and have an incredible ability to control and move animals with intense focus. A border collie is happiest when it has a job to do.

  2. Australian Shepherd: Despite their name, Australian Shepherds were developed in the United States. They are versatile workers, excelling at herding, agility, and obedience. Their high energy level and intelligence make them excellent companions for active families.

  3. German Shepherd: Originally bred for herding sheep, German Shepherds are now popular as service and police dogs due to their loyalty, intelligence, and versatility. They have a confident and fearless personality, making them great protectors.

  4. Belgian Malinois: These are highly energetic dogs with strong herding and protective instincts. Belgian Malinois are known for their speed, agility, and endurance. They thrive in active environments and require extensive exercise and mental stimulation.

  5. Rough Collie: Famous for their glamorous coat and gentle nature, Rough

A big dog holding a big blue herding ball with the front paws on a grassy backyard of a house
Backyard games with a Herding ball

Collies were originally bred for herding. They are intelligent, easy to train, and known for their steadfast loyalty.

  1. Shetland Sheepdog: Also known as "Shelties," these dogs are similar to Rough Collies but in a smaller package. They are intelligent, eager to please, and excel at obedience, agility, and herding trials.

  2. Welsh Corgi: There are two breeds of Welsh Corgis - the Pembroke and the Cardigan. Both were used for herding cattle. They are known for their short legs, long bodies, and large ears. Despite their size, they are agile and able to control and move livestock efficiently.

  3. Old English Sheepdog: Known for their shaggy coat, Old English Sheepdogs were bred for herding cattle. They are adaptable, and intelligent, and have a distinctive bear-like shuffle when they move.

  4. Australian Cattle Dog: Also known as Blue Heelers, these dogs were bred to drive cattle over long distances. They are sturdy, energetic, and intelligent dogs with a strong herding instinct. Australian cattle dogs are one of the most energetic herding breed dogs.

  5. Bearded Collie: Known for their shaggy coat and bouncing gait, Bearded Collies were bred for herding sheep in Scotland. They are energetic, intelligent, and known for their loud bark used to control livestock.

The Need for Enrichment Toys

Herding dogs have a natural tendency to want to work and herd, but in domestic settings, they may not have an outlet for this behavior. This can lead to boredom and frustration, which can manifest in various undesirable behaviors such as excessive barking, chewing, digging, and even aggression. Enrichment toys provide herding dogs with the mental stimulation they crave and help prevent these negative behaviors by feeding their herding instincts.

Studies have shown that dogs who engage in mental enrichment activities are less likely to develop behavior problems, and if they do, they are generally less severe. Enrichment toys offer a way for herding dogs to use their instincts constructively and healthily, reducing the likelihood of destructive behaviors.

Best Enrichment Toys for Herding Dogs

Here are the best dog toys for enrichment of herding dogs

Interactive dog toy.

Interactive dog toys, such as treat-dispensing puzzles or hide-and-seek games, are a great way to provide mental stimulation for herding dogs. These toys require problem-solving skills and keep the dog engaged and occupied.

A herding ball sitting next to a blue herding ball covered with mud in a muddy field
No mud stops a dog from herding the ball

Food dispensing toy.

Food dispensing toys are a popular choice for herding dogs as they allow them to use their natural foraging instincts. By filling the toy with treats, kibble, or peanut butter, you can keep your dog entertained and mentally stimulated for an extended period.

Chew toys

Herding dogs are known for having strong jaws and a high desire to chew. By providing them with appropriate chew toys, you can redirect their chewing behavior to something more suitable. Look for durable toys made specifically for strong chewers.

Plush toys

While not as mentally stimulating as other toys, plush toys can still provide entertainment for your herding dog. Look for interactive plush toys that offer a challenge, such as ones with hidden squeakers or multiple layers to tear through.

Puzzle toys

Puzzle toys are great for herding dogs as they require problem-solving skills and keep them mentally engaged. Look for puzzle toys that can be filled with treats or have hidden compartments to keep your dog challenged and entertained.

An Aussie dog tongue out holding a blue herding ball with front paws in muddy area
A Happy Aussie With a Navy Collieball

Agility equipment

Herding dogs thrive on physical activity, so providing them with agility equipment can be both mentally stimulating and physically challenging. Consider setting up an agility course in your backyard for your dog to run through and navigate obstacles.

Water toys

If you have a herding dog who loves the water, consider adding some water toys to their playtime rotation. These can include floating toys, retrieving toys.

A border collie and a hound chasing after a blue herding ball in wide grassy area
2 Dogs herding a ball

Tug toys

Herding dogs love a good game of tug-of-war, and it can also help satisfy their natural herding instincts. Look for durable tug toys that are specifically designed for dogs to avoid any potential choking hazards.

Interactive treat dispensers

Interactive treat dispensers are great for keeping herding dogs mentally stimulated while also providing a reward for their efforts. These toys require your dog to figure out how to release the treats, providing mental exercise and keeping them entertained.


Herding dogs love to run and chase, making frisbees a great toy for them. It allows them to use their natural herding instincts while also getting in some physical activity. Look for durable frisbees that are specifically made for dogs to avoid any potential injuries.

Herding balls

Herding balls are large, inflatable balls that can be used for chasing and herding activities. This type of toy allows your dog to use their natural instincts while also providing physical exercise. The Collieball is a popular herding ball for dogs, which was inspired by our beloved Border Collie; Huckleberry.

Two dog waiting to command play in front of their new blue herding ball on a backyard of a house
2 happy dogs with their new enrichment herding ball

Collieball Benefits

The Collieball is an exceptional toy for herding breeds, not just for Border Collies but all other herding breeds. It caters to their innate herding instincts, providing a satisfying outlet for their natural behaviors. Unlike regular exercise balls, the size and durability of the herding ball make it a stimulating challenge for rough play, encouraging dogs to strategize and use their intelligence to maneuver it. This mental stimulation keeps your dog engaged and helps to stave off boredom, which can lead to troublesome behaviors.

Additionally, physically moving the Collieball around provides excellent exercise, helping your dog to maintain a healthy weight and muscle tone. The inherent challenge and physical engagement that a Collieball provides serve to enrich the lives of herding dogs, promoting both mental and physical wellness. There are three size varieties available for dog breeds from cute Corgis to strong German Shepherds.

How to Use Enrichment Toys Effectively

Enrichment toys are a great way to keep your herding dog entertained and mentally stimulated. However, in order to get the most out of these toys, it's important to use them effectively. Here are some guidelines for using enrichment toys with your herding dog:

  • Rotate the toys regularly.

To prevent your dog from getting bored with their enrichment toys, it's important to rotate them regularly. This keeps the toys new and exciting, preventing your dog from losing interest.

A herding dog sitting next to blue herding ball in the street.
Waiting to herd

Supervise playtime.

While enrichment toys are generally safe for dogs, it's important to supervise your herding dog while they play with these toys. This ensures that they don't accidentally ingest any small parts or pieces of the toy.

  • Use a variety of toys.

Don't limit your herding dog to just one type of enrichment toy. Instead, provide them with a variety of toys such as tug toys, treat dispensers, and frisbees to keep their playtime diverse and engaging.

  • Use treats in moderation.

While it may be tempting to fill your dog's enrichment toy with lots of treats, it's important to use them in moderation. Too many treats can lead to weight gain and other health issues, so make sure to balance your dog's treat intake with their regular meals.

  • Incorporate training into playtime.

Enrichment toys are a great way to incorporate training into your herding dog's playtime. Use the toys as a reward for completing commands


Enrichment toys can be a valuable tool for keeping your herding dog happy and entertained. By following these guidelines, you can make the most out of these toys and provide your dog with mental stimulation and physical exercise. Remember to always supervise playtime and use treats in moderation, and your herding dog will thank you for it! So why wait?

A border collie herding a red herding ball in wide range grassy area.
Herding is an art

Start exploring different types of enrichment toys and watch your dog have a blast! Keep in mind that every dog is unique, so pay attention to which toys your herding dog enjoys the most and rotate them regularly to keep playtime exciting. With proper supervision and variety, enrichment toys can be a fun and beneficial addition to your herding dog's daily routine. Happy playing!

And if you have any questions or concerns, always consult with your veterinarian for personalized advice. Your herding dog will thank you for it! Happy playing! And remember, a happy and stimulated dog is a healthy dog. So make enrichment toys a part of your herding dog's daily routine and see the positive impact it has on their overall well-being. Let's keep our herding dogs happy and fulfilled by providing them with the mental and physical stimulation they need to thrive. So go ahead, give your herding dog a treat-filled enrichment toy and watch their tail wag with joy! Thank you for reading this guide and we hope it helps you and your herding dog have an enriched life together. Cheers to happy playtime!

So go ahead, give your herding dog a treat-filled enrichment toy and watch their tail wag with joy! Thank you for reading this guide and we hope it helps you and your herding dog have an enriched life together. Cheers to happy playtime!


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  • ASPCA. (n.d.). Enriching Your Dog's Life. Retrieved from

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  • The Dog Clinic. (2019). Are Herding Dogs Good with Kids? Retrieved from

  • Dogtime. (n.d.). Herding Dogs: What to Know About This Incredible Group of Canines. Retrieved from

  • PetMD. (2021). 6 Tips for Playing with Your Herding Breed Dog. Retrieved from

  • Whole Dog Journal. (2021). Playing with Dogs: An Exercise in Relationship Building. Retrieved from

  • Veterinary Behavior Specialists of Minnesota. (2020). Mental Stimulation

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