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Enrichment is very important for dogs. It provides mental stimulation, alleviates boredom and provides a safe outlet for natural dog behaviours.
We’ve all been there at some point, coming home to a naughty surprise from our dog. Lonely, bored and restless pooches tend to find their own ways to create entertainment, which could spell disaster if they play with or chew the wrong item. They’re restless and looking for something to keep their mind occupied.
Try looking at it from a human perspective. Imagine not having our human means of entertainment, phones, laptops, TV, books – we would go pretty stir crazy too. It’s been said that “idle paws are the naughty dog’s workshop”, so let’s keep those paws from being idle with dog puzzle toys!
Physical exercise is important but that’s only half of the equation. Taking the dog for a walk may tire them out but it won’t necessarily tire their mind. Your pooch is intelligent and needs mental exercise and enrichment. Providing them with an interactive dog puzzle toy will stimulate and strengthen their mental capability, keeping them occupied and healthy from the inside out.
Adding simple puzzle feeders and games can really benefit your dog’s mental health and build confidence. We’ve rounded up 17 of the most mentally stimulating dog puzzle toys to keep your furry Einstein occupied.
What are dog puzzle toys?
Similar to human puzzles, dog puzzles stimulate your dog’s intellect so you can include problem-solving skills into their routine. They come in various forms, ranging from simple hide-and-seek where your dog will need to flip, push, and roll to unlock a treat, or require more physical work lifting blocks, turning discs, sliding bricks or retrieving food from interactive dog bowls. They’ll challenge your dog mentally and cater to their innate love for play.
Ready to introduce your dog to a world of fun?
ZippyPaws Burrow Squeaky Hide and Seek
Your doggo will be howlin’ with excitement when they dig into a game of hide and squeak with this range from Zippy Paws! This plushie puzzle is simple, once your playful pup has all the bashful little rabbits pulled from the carrot, just stuff them back in again and again for hours of fun!
This interactive provides plenty of fun and it’s food free which is perfect for dogs on a diet. Comes with three squeaky rabbits and one big ole carrot. Comes in various other options including Giraffes hiding in a safari lodge, a Halloween pumpkin hiding bats, Meerkats hiding in their den, Monkeys hidden in a banana and Pandas hiding in Bamboo.
Fancy an extra large squirrel version? Check out the Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel set!
LIVACASA Snuffle Mat Foldable
The snuffle mat has become increasingly popular over the last few years. Not only does it stimulate the mind, but it encourages natural foraging skills.
Hide treats in the snuffle mat, and your dogs will use the power of their nose to find tasty treats. What we love about this one, in particular, is there are lots of different kinds of places to hide treats like pockets, ‘petals’, fabric tubes etc. This makes a worthy addition to your dog’s puzzle toy collection.
Dog Activity Flip Board
The activity Flipboard makes a great starter puzzle for your pooch. Dogs must operate the leavers, flaps and cones to get to the treats. It’s easy for your dogs to use and they’ll quickly learn with your guidance how to complete the puzzle.
We love this one, and our dogs are a little in love with it too.
Interactive Carrot Snuffle Mat
Whats up Doc? This sweet 12-carrot interactive puzzle toy encourages your dogs to problem-solve and burrow to reach the treats. All they have to do is uproot the plush carrots to reveal the treats. Perfect for both small and large dogs to enjoy.
The carrot patch base cover is also removable and washable from the foam inside which is perfect for easy cleaning. Perhaps you can hire your dogs as a farmhand come Harvest time too?
Smart Choice Paw Puzzle Dog Toy
This is also a level one toy, perfect for any beginners. Not only does it make a great puzzle, but also clever slow-feeder. To play, your dog needs to remove the paw cups from the holes. As with other toys, you may have to guide them to beging with, but they’ll soon become a pro in no time. Be sure not to leave the cups out as your dogs will enjoy chewing them!
ADOGO® Dog Puzzle Feeder
Another bundle of fun, this puzzle has 22 treat compartments and 9 moving pieces will keep your dog busy for longer than some of the other puzzles in the guide. This level one puzzle is perfect for dogs of all ages.
Nina Ottosson Dog Tornado Puzzle
This puzzle has been created by Nina Ottosson who pioneered the development of doggy gaming and puzzles that utilise reward-based play.
The Dog Tornado is Nina’s level two puzzle toy, for perfect for those looking for a more advanced form of enrichment. It has 12 compartments for treat dispensing and is sure to eliminate boredom through interactive play. It’s a great exercise in mental stimulation that keeps your dog curious.
Trixie Dog Activity Turn Around
For the mad scientist in the pack. Your dog will need to turn the tubes to tip out the treats. There’s three tubes to pop treats in, but what we love the most is there’s two lids for different levels of difficulty. Perfect for ajusting to your dog’s abilities and experiance.
Bob-a-Lot Interactive Dog Puzzle Toy
Similar to the wobble toys you would have when you were a child! This treat-dispensing toy wobbles, filled with delicious goodies for your dog to wobble out. You can fill this with your dog’s favourite treats or food, then customize the opening to make it easier or more difficult. This will provide plenty of wobble bobble entertainment.
Dog IQ Treat Dispenser
We love this IQ Treat Ball, perfect for all dogs looking for a new puzzle toy to play with. The ball can be filled with treats which can then be tumbled around to get them back out again. By moving the slider across on the opening you can determine the puzzle difficulty. Tighten it for a canine challenge and loosen it for an easy game.
Dog Activity Poker Box
Your doggo will love this tail-wagging board game. This mentally challenging game has a range of interesting possibilities. It comes with five different modules and your pooch will need to use different techniques to get the treats. This one comes with a booklet filled with tips and tricks for designing optimal training around your puzzle.
Our guide wouldn’t be complete without a classic Kong now, would it? Kongs provide long-term entertainment and what’s more? They have been used and recommended by veterinarians, dog experts and satisfied furry friends for more than 30 years.
The bouncy rubber toy can be stuffed with your dog’s favourite treats or fillings. Kongs also has filling pastes available here in liver, peanut butter and cheese which are super tasty for your pooch. You could even freeze them with fillings to make it last a little longer.
Your pooch will love licking out every last goody, perfect for when you need to leave the pooch to go to work.Available in multiple sizes and special varieties for puppies, seniors, and extreme chewers.
Nina Ottosson Dog Twister Puzzle
Is your dog a pro when it comes to dog puzzles? Well, this is the one for you. Created by Sweedish designer Nina Ottoson, this level three puzzle is a doozy.
With this enrichment puzzle, you’ll need to leave the handles in the unlocked position and offset paw panels so your dog can smell and access treats. Slightly more difficult than some of the other puzzles in the guide but perfect for dogs who need an extra challenge. Extra tips and tricks are included in the box.
Dogit 3-in-1 Mind Games
What we love most about this game, is there are three games in one! I can’t recall how many puzzle games we have in our dog’s box of magic tricks, but having this first would have saved a lot of space. The three games are, a simple hide-and-seek game perfect for beginners, a spin-a-whirl game and sliding puzzle. Your pooch is set to have plenty of ongoing fun with this puzzle!
The Tug-A-Jug can hold up to an entire meal worth of food making this a great option for slow-feeding. Whether you use a meal or treats, this jug will keep your pooch occupied for quite some time. This puzzle toy has extra benefits, including a unique design featuring a textured natural rubber wrap that cleans teeth and gums. It also includes a rope to tug on for extra fun and enrichment!
Busy Buddy Cow Wow Treat Dispenser
Treat dispensing balls have been loved for a number of years, but what we love about this is its quirky design. Your dog will have hours of fun bouncing Cow Wow around whilst dispensing treats. Like many of the toys listed in this guide, it redirects potentially destructive chewing behaviour into positive enriching playtime. It also comes with a vanilla scent which will encourage your dog to play with the toy more often!
Enrichment Toys You Can Make From Home Recycling
An absolute favourite of ours is getting creative with home recycling such as plastic bottles, egg cartons, paper bags, cereal boxes etc. Click here to read our ideas for DIY Enrichment games. When your rubbish turns into toys, it’s easy to give your dog something new to look forward to, almost every day.
What Dog Puzzle Toys Does Your Pooch Enjoy?
Share your favourite puzzles in the comments below or any other enrichment ideas to stimulate our canine minds. Who knows, you may inspire another dog owner!
Who knew there were so many different types of puzzles? I love Kongs and Snuffle mats but I am useless at all the rest as I’m trained to identify where a smell is coming from and point to it so I end up just sitting there with my nose or paw on it and Mooma can’t break the habit haha, I must just be a good boy!
So many good ideas to keep pups minds busy though, great article.
You’re definitely a good boy!
Oh I love puzzle toys! I have your standard kongs, a lickimat, a kong gyro, the nina ottoson dog worker composite puzzle and a snuffle mat! But I also love it when mumma makes me toys from egg boxes and toilet/ kitchen roll tubes!
This sounds like so much fun!
…more to add to our collection! We have a dedicated kitchen cupboard for our food toys already!
I know what you mean, the dogs will have a whole chest of drawers before you know it! ?
Some great ideas on here! My boys have a few of these already but I think they need a few more to get them through the rest of this lockdown!!
Definitely getting some of these on our birthday wish list this year! We love the Nina Ottoson toys, and already have the tornado! Love our classic kong too! Also we are obsessed with the Zippy Paws toys, wish they were easier to get hold of in the UK!