Dogs are naturally active, working animals. Even the spoiled mutts that spent their time on the floor sniffing their toes are descended from a long line of problem solving critters who earn their meals. Put them in an enclosed area and restrict their problem solving nature and they will lose it in no time.
Obsessive tail chasing, destructive chewing, destructive dipping, escaping, endless barking – these are just a few of the symptoms you will observe in a dog that lose their mind due to the restrictions mentioned above. And while exercising your dog may be a solution to making him behave, it will only result in a fit bored dog. This is where puzzle toys come in.
These toys require your dog to actually think about they are doing and whether it will get them the desired results, rather than do things mindlessly.
Overview of the top 10 puzzle toys for dogs
Type of toy
Medium and large
Small, medium and large
Small and large
Shuffle dog puzzle
Small and large
Plush squeaky toy
Extra small, small and medium/large
Types of dog puzzle toys
You want to ensure that you get the right puzzle toy for your dog and while part of that depends on understanding the nature of your dog, knowing the various types of puzzle toys also helps a great deal.
Board games: These look like something a toddler would play with. They require a lot of brainpower and as such dogs have to really tap into their problem-solving powers to figure them out. These are ideal for dogs that have a basic concept of puzzle toys and if you have time to supervise him as they have moving parts.
Pushovers: Dogs essentially use their noses and feet to move these around so as to dispense the treats. They come in cube and ball shapes, and are a great way to keep Sparky excited. They aren’t meant to be chewed and are made of plastic.
Classics: Some refer to these as the workhorses of the toy world and are usually rubber objects with hollow interiors meant to be filled with food. They are made of tough, high quality material and double as fetch and chew toys. They are a great option if your dog is often left at home alone and fill them with peanut butter, soft food, kibble, homemade food and dog treats.
Top dog puzzle toy brands
Some of the notable brands that are known for interactive, fun puzzle toys for dogs include:
Most pet owners are familiar with Kong toys probably because most of them double as treat dispensers and chew toys. Whether you are a new pet owner or not, you will certainly appreciate the impact that puzzle toys designed and manufactured by Kong will have on your dog. Kong puzzle toys do a great job of satisfying a dog’s natural desire to ‘hunt’ for food, exercising their brains as well as providing behavior modification. Another advantage of Kong toys that make them popular among pet owners is that they grow with your dog.
Nina Ottosson has been designing and making fun puzzle toys and games, as well as perfect boredom busters for both dogs and cats for years. She has been doing this since 1990 so it’s fair to say that here experience is unsurpassed. Her range of games is designed to stimulate pets’ brains while reinforcing their relationships with people. They come in all ranges of difficulties, thus ensuring that all dogs, regardless of age or experience level, are satisfied. She designs and develops all the products for her Sweden based company known as Zoo Active Products AB.
West Paw Design
West Paw Design was established by Spencer Williams at the age of 23 and with less than five employees. His motivation to create the world’s best, safest and highest quality pet products helped make the company an industry leader that’s now recognized by pet owners all over the world. The company is located in Bozeman and all of its products are made in the United States. It’s been more than twenty years and West Paw Design continues to impress consumers with interactive puzzle toys for dogs.
Incorporating a puzzle toy into the daily life of your dog is very important. Ideally, every dog owner should have a few puzzle toys and if possible, only feed them with these toys. The reason is that in addition to keeping them excited, puzzle toys also offer free training. Here are some of our favorite puzzle toys for dogs.
Reviews of the Best Puzzle Toys for Dogs
The Classic Kong Dog Toy
The Classic KONG has been a favorite toy for many dogs for more than 45 years. It is made of red, natural rubber compound that’s super bouncy making it the perfect toy for dogs. It features a cavity where you can place treats and give your dog a great chewing experience as they work hard to get to the food. Plenty of chewing when using the Classic KONG helps clean your dog’s teeth and gums. While it is recommended for adult dogs, this toy is also appropriate for typical chewers. It comes in medium and large sizes. Moreover, this toy is long-lasting and durable.
Omega Paw Trick Treat Ball
The Omega Paw Trick Treat Ball is an innovative, interactive puzzle toy that keeps your dog occupied for hours. It has an opening that you can use to add treats. It comes with Trick Treat Balls that are designed for the ball, all natural and devoid of gluten, corn as well as wheat. The Trick Treat Balls are made of quinoa, which is perfectly healthy for your dog. The Trick Treat Ball comes in small, medium and large sizes allowing you to choose the appropriate size for your pet. Whether at home or leaving for work, you can simply add the treats into the ball and your dog will dispense them as he plays. This allows him to stay occupied until you get back.
The Foobler Timed, Self Reloading Puzzle Feeder For Dogs
This is yet another food dispensing toy that dispenses food up to six times throughout the day. It is a round ball whose shell consists of two layers. The outer shell has a small hole through which food is dispensed while the inner shell is where the food is held. The inner shell also makes it harder to attract cockroaches and ants. The Foobler also has a timer that lets you control when food can be dispensed by ringing a bell when a time interval passes. This toy can be used in the long-term with little or no supervision. It is a great asset which provides physical and mental exercise for your dog.
Seek-A-Treat Shuffle Bone
This puzzle toy offers the perfect opportunity to test your dog’s creativity and whether it’s smart enough to retrieve treats from it. Simply place the treats inside the compartments and let your pet do the rest. The Seek-a-treat shuffle bone is a toy with rows of sliding discs with hidden treats. The job of your dog is to figure out how to slide the discs and get to the small cups that hold food.
Treat Dispensing Bob-A-Lot
This is a high quality, durable dog toy that features two adjustable points for dispensing treats. It is big enough to hold up to three cups of food or treats and wobbles on a weighted base. It’s a great puzzle toy for ensuring that your dog stays active and motivated especially when left alone for a few hours. It ensures that display nuisance or destructive behaviors, your dog interacts with its toys. It is manufactured with durable, non-toxic materials that ensure your dog doesn’t damage its teeth or gums while playing with it.
Dog Magic Puzzle by Nina Ottosson
This is a Level One or easy game that requires your dog to lift the bones so as to reveal hidden treats. Your pet can use his feet, mouth, brain and nose to win the game. The Dog Magic Puzzle is a great starting point for dog owners who intend to introduce their pets to puzzle games. Even better is that the difficulty levels can be modified to keep your dog motivated. The toy can also be simplified in case it’s too hard for your dog. The hole in the middle of each bone and a string can be utilized to make that happen.
West Paw Toppl
The West Paw Toppl does it all. The inner ridges carry treats while the toy tips over ensuring that your dog has optimal fun. It is ideal for all dogs – small, larger and clever ones. Like all toys by West Paw Design, Toppl is recyclable, durable, long-lasting and safe to chew. In addition, it is pliable, buoyant, non-toxic and bounces around. Simply stuff your dog’s favorite treats into the cavity and let you dog do the rest. It snaps together to create a fun, treat dispensing toy that keeps your dog busy for hours.
Flip Board by Trixie
Interactive playtime with your dog is one of the best experiences you can have and the Trixie Flip Board offers just that. This toy provides your dog with physical and mental exercise, train it with new skills and keep it entertained. It is particularly suitable for small, active dogs. The Flip Board is a toy that features two cones as well as indentations with sliders and hinged lids. It also comes with booklet with tips on optimal training techniques that will work best with your dog.
Zippy Burrow – Hedgehog Den
Your dog will love his nose in the Zippy Burrow Hedgehog Den to dig out critters. And yes, he’ll be giving the puppy eyes so that you can put him in the Burrow for additional hours of fun. The Hedgehog Den is an interactive hide and seek toy by Zippy Burrow that comes with three small hedgehogs and one large den. It is ideal for small and medium sized dogs that don’t mind hours of fun and physical activity.
PetSafe Busy Body Tug-A-Jug
This is a non-toxic, rubber and plastic interactive dog toy that comes with a multi-sensory appeal that is ideal for keeping your dog engaged and motivated to play. It has a unique design that provokes your pet’s smell, sight and sound senses as the treats roll around in the jug. In addition to dispensing treats, the Busy Buddy Tug-a-Jug can also be used for feeding meals and obedience training. The only thing you have to keep in mind is to ensure that the treats are small enough to come out of the hole. Otherwise, your dog will soon become bored.
How to buy dog puzzle toys
Buying the right puzzle toys for your dog can help keep him at his best behavior. A few of these toys can help with everything ranging from a bored and happy pooch to a fast eater and chew hound. In addition to interacting with the toys, puzzle toys encourage dogs to stay active for extended playtime and keep them from eating their food in less than ten seconds from a bowl. There are several things you need to keep in mind when purchasing puzzle toys for your pet.
How large is your dog? Not every puzzle toy is designed every dog. This is something you need to keep in mind as some are designed for small, medium and large sized dogs.
The experience level of your dog should also be considered. You don’t want your pet getting bored quickly because their puzzle toy is way too sophisticated for them.
Plastic puzzle toys that dispense treats are great for dogs that require more activity in their life or need to lose weight because they have to work for food.
While this guide provides all the information to buy your pooch a great puzzle toy, it’s important that you keep a few things in mind. No toy is truly indestructible and as such, you shouldn’t leave your dog with a puzzle toy for long periods of time. Ultimately, the most important thing to keep in mind is that the toy you buy should provide optimal benefits to your dog.