Our canine pals are not only sweet and cuddly and great companions, but they are also intelligent and very playful animals. Dogs need mental stimulation or the consequences could result in chewed up shoes or ruined furniture. Help them channel their energy and curiosity into something positive.

Puzzle games and interactive dog toys help with tons of things. They can be a great way to keep your pet engaged by moving their bodies and minds to keep them entertained. Mental stimulation for dogs can equal physical activity. Research has shown that 15 min of mental stimulation can equal an hour-long walk.

On a rainy or snowy day, taking your dog for a walk can really seem like a chore. So on those lazy days when you’d rather curl up on your couch or in bed with your pooch, these mental puzzle games are a great alternative.

Vet Approved Content
  • Sara Redding Ochoa DVM
  • Certified content. This article has been fact-checked and verified by our veterinary advisor.

    Approved By: Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM

Notes from our DVM, Sara Ochoa: “Dog toys will really help stimulate your dog’s brain. Most dogs really love puzzles and mazes. Dog puzzle toys prove to be a very good idea to keep your dog’s brain working.”

View The Best Dog Puzzle Toys Below

1. Trixie Pet Products Flip Board

Trixie Pet Products Flip Board

When we play app games or even games on the Nintendo Switch, there are difficulty levels to choose from. Games for our pets are the same! This flip board puzzle game is more suited for intermediate doggies. It comes at a very affordable price and is available as an add-on option on Amazon.

Why this is more suited for intermediate canines is because it incorporates different techniques in order to find the treats hidden inside the different shapes. Some of the lids flip using knobs, the disks slide from side to side, and the cones are only removable by lifting them up. This requires your dog to remember which action goes with which shape.

Pros: 
+ Excellent mental stimulation
+ Includes booklet for training tips
+ Non-slip rubber base ring
+ Very affordable
+ Designed especially for small dogs

Why We Like It – Different techniques and also a touch of memorization is involved with playing this game. The training booklet includes lots of ideas and different methods for optimal results. This toy is specially designed for puppies and smaller dogs, the non-slip rubber base makes it easier for them to handle.


2. Nina Ottosson Dog Brick Treat Puzzle Dog Toy by Outward Hound

Nina Ottosson Dog Brick Treat Puzzle Dog Toy by Outward Hound

This puzzle toy is great for treats, but also great for dishing out dry kibble for an engaging mealtime. On the difficulty level, it ranks at about a level 2, more toward the intermediate level. So dogs with a little more experience will excel at this game. It comes with 3 different feeding features with easy to flip open and close compartments and removable bone puzzle pieces. We can imagine how much slobber gets on these toys while your pet is trying its absolute hardest to reach the treats. This model is very easy to clean with soap and water.

Pros:
+ 20 different treat compartments
+ Easy to clean
+ Reduces destructive behavior
+ Mental stimulation
+ Durable

Why We Like It – Some of our dogs can get frustrated and start tearing and throwing the toy to get to the treats inside. If that is the case, this game can withstand roughness from your pup. Made with sturdy plastic, many consumers have contested it can take a beating from your frustrated dog.


3. Our Pets IQ Treat Ball Food Dispensing Dog Toy

Our Pets IQ Treat Ball Food Dispensing Dog Toy

We always like to include as wide a variety of options as we can in our lists. This is the first one that comes in a ball form. What’s great about this toy is the adjustable difficulty level. Once your dog gets the hang of it, all you need to do is adjust it to a level higher to keep him engaged.

This game is targeting the physical aspect of feeding. Your dog rolls and chases the ball around and fills up on the treats that fall out. This is a great way to couple feeding time and walking time. Another thoughtful feature of this toy is the size options. Choose one that fits your dog the best, but it’s ideal for small to medium dogs.

Pros: 
+ Twist apart for easy cleaning
+ Adjustable feeding levels
+ Promotes active and healthy feeding
+ Portion control
+ Very durable

Why We Like It – This rendition of a feeder really helps your dog keep active and rewards them for their effort. It also allows you to have portion control and put a healthy amount into the sphere allowing them to only eat what is dispensed.


4. Nina Ottosson Outward Hound Dog Puzzle Toy Dog Game

Nina Ottosson Outward Hound Dog Puzzle Toy Dog Game

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This is also a level two (intermediate) level dog puzzle game. It combines different actions to retrieve the rewards inside. This game by Nina Ottoson is very creative. In order to get to the treat, your doggy has to move the sliding part first, then move the cover off. If they do this in the wrong order, the treats will not be accessible. This really requires some mental concentration on your dog’s part. For those of you thinking of choking hazards from pieces that may potentially come off, there is no need to worry. This product is very sturdy with no loose parts and can be great for even a larger stronger dog.

Pros: 
+ High level of difficulty
+ Easy to clean
+ Reduces destructive behavior
+ Mental stimulation
+ Durable

Why We Liked It – Being on the high end of a level two almost level three difficulty level, this is really a doozy of a game for your smart pooch. It’s not simply a movement associated with a flap or shape; it’s also the order. If your dog is not easily challenged, give this game a try!


5. Outward Hound Fun Feeder Slow Feed Bloat Stop Dog Bowl

Outward Hound Fun Feeder Slow Feed Bloat Stop Dog Bowl

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Here is another fancy feeder dog bowl that helps with healthy portion control eating and slows down your pup’s bite. A lot of dogs love to eat and can gobble their food so quickly it causes them to be gassy and bloated. This toy can slow down their feeding up to 10x, and therefore reduce or even prevent gas in dogs.

This can improve their digestion by allowing dogs to forage for their food through unique patterns. So if your dog suffers from indigestion and bloating, this veterinarian recommended feeder can definitely help reduce these issues. All feeders work well with dry or wet food diets and come with a non-slip base for easy use.

Pros:
+ Non-slip base
+ Up to 10x slower feeding
+ Reduces bloating
+Vet recommended
+ Portion control

Why We Like It – Being healthy and safe are the main concerns of any child-parent or fur baby parent alike. This fun feeder slows down feeding and also reduces canine obesity at the same time. Not only is this a fun way to feed our pet, but the purpose of healthy feeding is also met.


6. Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Dog Tornado Treat Puzzle Dog Toy

Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Dog Tornado Treat Puzzle Dog Toy

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Yes, your eyes do not deceive you, Nina Ottoson Outward Hound toys are taking over our top 10 list! This feeder looks like a complicated contraption that could even stump our toddlers. There are 12 treat compartments in this tornado shaped feeder. Whether you decide to fill this toy with dried kibble or treats, your dog will definitely learn problem-solving skills in the process.

This toy is great to distract your dog from destructive behaviors and also to appease them after ‘traumatic’ doggy events such as bath time or a visit to the vet. A great way is to fill less and fewer compartments with food to increase difficulty.

Pros: 
+ Adjustable difficulty level
+ Safely built with durable materials
+ Mentally stimulating
+ Easy to clean
+ Great for smaller dogs

Why We Like It – Nina Ottosson has more than 25 years of creating puzzle toys under her belt. She received a 2017 Pet Age Icon Award for her innovative designs. With so much experience, Nina’s toys are well made to suit dogs of any size with different mental requirements.


7. SNiFFiz SmellyMatty Dog Puzzle Toy

SNiFFiz SmellyMatty Dog Puzzle Toy

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You might be thinking that this puzzle toy looks more like a rug or a sleeping mat for your pup. But let me just list a few of the advantages of this design. This mat develops their foraging instinct and intrinsic cognitive desires by natural scent tracking without the hassle of going outdoors.

Specifically designed to relieve canine stress and anxiety while considering the modern indoor lifestyle many of us lead nowadays. Not only stimulating to the mind, but it also enhances and trains their sense of smell as they sniff through the fleece in search of their treat. It’s made of superior fabric that’s easy to clean by throwing it in the washing machine hassle-free.

Pros:
+ Easy to clean
+ Develops dogs’ natural instincts
+ Anti-slip bottom
+ Ergonomic food pocket design
+ Soft durable fleece material

Why We Like It – Other than the mat itself, this product comes with 12 other pieces to supplement this dog toy. So if simply sniffing through the rug is not enough for your smart fur baby, you can also utilize the pieces to increase difficulty.


8. StarMark Bob-A-Lot Dog Toy

StarMark Bob-A-Lot Dog Toy

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You can already tell this is a super fun dog toy that your pup will love! It resembles the weeble wobble toy some of us grew up playing with. Not only does your dog get fed a healthy amount through this amazing toy, but it also gets exercise at home at the same time. The bottom chamber is large enough for up to 3 cups of food – enough for a full meal. You’re able to regulate the difficulty level on this toy using the adjustable openings at the top and bottom. The weighted non-slip bottom and jerky movement is guaranteed to excite your pup!

Pros:
+ Control eating speed
+ Portion control
+ Durable feeder
+ Anti-slip bottom
+ Adjustable levels

Why We Like It – It will tug at your heartstrings to see your pup playing with a toy that you perhaps played with as a child. This durable feeder takes into account puppy size and health issues by regulating the speed at which your dog feeds.


9. West Paw Zogoflex Tux Treat Dispensing Dog Chew Toy

West Paw Zogoflex Tux Treat Dispensing Dog Chew Toy

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This dog toy caters to heavy chewers. Some of our pups are extremely aggressive and go all out to get at the treats inside. The Zogoflex toy is extremely tough and durable so there’s no need to worry your dog will shred it to pieces. It is made more for treats than to actually feed your dog a full meal.

You can freeze or stuff their favorite treats inside to keep them entertained. Made in the USA with recyclable and dishwasher safe materials, it’s easy to clean and 100% dog damage guaranteed by the manufacturer. This product passes strict FDA regulations and is safe and non-toxic.

Pros:
+ Doubles as a chew toy
+ Comes in different sizes
+ Extremely durable
+ Easy to clean
+ Safe

Why We Like It – The food cavity allows you to freeze and customize self-made healthy treats inside that give your dog the sense of accomplishment it needs when it finally gets through the tough exterior. With this chew toy, your dog will be occupied for hours!


10. Interactive Dog Ball by FurryFido

Interactive Dog Ball by FurryFido

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The Interactive Dog Ball can help develop your dog’s IQ and keeps them fit. Take this ball outside and play fetch with your pooch to get exercise and let them take some time to get at the treats inside for a sweet reward. This soccer ball-like device dispense treats slowly as your dog chews or rolls it at a healthy eating pace.

Made of natural rubber, the material is non-toxic and safe for your best friend to chew on. Here is a product that can put your mind at ease with their 100% lifetime money back guarantee. If your pet doesn’t have fun with it, you get your money back no questions asked with zero risks!

Pros:
+ 100% lifetime money back guarantee
+ Safe and non-toxic
+ Tough and chew-resistant
+ Slows down fast eaters
+ Affordable price

Why We Like It – Having a mobile toy like this is great to ensure your dog gets enough exercise in the winter. Chasing this around will expend their energy while developing their IQ to boot!


Dog Puzzle Toy Buyers Guide

Dogs are easily bored and they need things to do to stimulate their minds and release their tension and energy. Tons of our fur babies chew on things we’d rather they didn’t, so we might need to find them a proper toy to occupy their time.  A great way to deal with a hyperactive pup is to take them on long walks or a few short walks multiple times a day.

Another way is to engage them mentally, making them think can also expel extra energy they have pent up. Interactive puzzles and toys force them to move things around and keep them busy for long hours. There are three major benefits to dog puzzles. We will look at them in detail as we find the best toys to challenge your pooch.

What to look for when buying dog puzzles?

Durability

Food-dispensing dog toys should be durable for obvious reasons. Look for one that can withstand repeated chews, throws, bites and pulls from your dog. If you find your dog is at risk of injury from the toy you chose, take it away and look for one of a different design next time. Our top 10 list provides you with a sufficient variety of options.

Easy to Clean

This is also an obvious tip. Dog toys, especially food dispensing ones that you might be using on the regular, should be easy to clean. Look for ones that are easy to clean to avoid any germ or bacteria buildup that could be ingested by your pup or develop an unpleasant smell over time.

Be Careful When Choosing Treats

Lots of people aren’t mindful when it comes to stuffing treats inside chew toys. Their main focus is to occupy their dogs so they may be giving treats much too frequently without noticing. Using healthy treats, or consulting with your vet prior to making a treat giving routine can avoid this. Dog puzzles are here to help with bloating and slow down fast eaters, the opposite will be achieved if we aren’t aware of what we’re putting into the toys.

Food Dispensing Toys Do Not Replace Exercise

They are used as an option if the weather is less than ideal, or you happen to be busier on a particular day. It’s a great way to increase your dog’s level of physical exertion, but it does not equal time spent in the outdoors and taking in sunlight and smelling the fresh air and interacting with other dog buddies. It’s best to combine the mental stimulation of a food-dispensing puzzle toy with regular exercise to get the best results and keep your dog happy and healthy for many years to come.

What is the Main Purpose of Your Puzzle Toy?

Are you trying to feed a picky eater or one that eats too fast? Choose one that feeds your puppy an entire meal. Feeding them through these cognitive toys can prevent vomiting, indigestion and bloating.

Are you using the toy as an alternative form of exercise? Depending on many factors, most dogs should get about 30 min to 2 hours of exercise per day. This can be difficult for those of us with full-time jobs or kids. With these food puzzle toys, they can help provide the exercise your dog needs and the mental ability to stay sharp.

Are you using them to alleviate boredom or prevent anxiety? Bored canines can either destroy anything in their paths or develop separation anxiety with nothing to do at home. Keeping busy is a way to distract them from destructive behavior and thoughts.

Are you using them to help with weight management? You might have heard of the concept of eating smaller more frequent meals throughout the day to lose weight. The same idea works for dogs. The food puzzles dole out the treats or dry food in small amounts to allow your dog’s body to feel full faster and prevent them from overeating.

They can build IQ and prevent dementia in older dogs. So if you’re using them for mental stimulation, they can sure help stave off issues like memory loss. A puzzle that keeps them thinking and being on their toes helps dogs of all ages.

Last but not least, these toys are FUN. They can be used for the sole purpose of bolstering your dog’s toy collection and keeping them happy and entertained.

Guarantee

At the end of the day, the product guarantee is by far the most important. Some brands allow for a 30-day return period if you are unhappy with your purchase with a 100% money back guarantee. When it comes to something for everyday use, the quality guarantee is that much more important. For toys like this, it might take a couple of tries before you find one that amuses your dog. Get a few different types at once just to keep him entertained.

Conclusion

For something that benefits your dog both physically and mentally, careful screening of all the above tips is extremely important. We hope our lists help you and remember that safety is also a top concern for anything you buy for your beloved pooch. The beauty of this form of training for your dog is they can be introduced at any age and can increase in difficulty as your dog progresses.

Expert Tip

Experts suggest resolving any food or toy guarding issues before using a food-dispensing toy with your dog. This can avoid any aggressive behavior when the toy comes in contact with someone other than your dog.

Did You Know

Even though some toys do suggest it, it’s better not to overuse the food-dispensing toy for regular feeding. It may result in your dog refusing to be fed regularly with a bowl or losing interest in the toy too quickly.

Amazon Recommends:

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Jess
Jess' life is never boring and full of loyalty and love from her fur babies. Being able to write about all of these products and being a doggy mom herself, gives Jess insight into what’s important when choosing the right products for our cuddly pals.