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We love puzzle toys, and your dog will too. Often recommended by dog behaviorists, interactive dog toys are designed to help keep your dog busy while you’re away, stave off boredom, and stimulate their natural curiosity.
While these toys offer much-needed mental stimulation for your pup, nothing can replace the value of engaging in interactive play with your dog (i.e. tug-of-war or fetch). But when you can’t be there, puzzle toys are a great supplement.
Here are some of our favorite puzzle toys for dogs.
Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel (Verified Review)
Move over hide and seek, there’s a new game in town—and it’s called hide and squeak by Outward Hound. This plush puzzle game is simple: you stuff the adorable little squeaky squirrels into the oh-so-soft tree trunk and watch your dog pull them out one by one. Then stuff ’em back in, and do it again. This interactive toy is super fun and food free for dogs on a diet.
Available in four sizes, it’s slightly less cardio-heavy than the chasing of squirrels IRL, but it keeps dogs just as entertained.
Certified dog trainer Shoshi Parks recommends this toy in her article, How to Buy a Quality Dog Toy (and Avoid a Dangerous Fake).Shop on Chewy
Whether your dog is pawing it around the house or carefully licking out every last goody, it’s bound to keep him entertained all day long. Available in multiple sizes and with special varieties for puppies, seniors, and extreme chewers.Shop on Chewy
Psst…we recently got to take an exclusive tour inside the KONG company where the magic is made. Watch and you’ll see why this company continues to be so popular with dog people.
For more KONG toy recommendations, check these out.
Watch out! If you let your dog spend too much time with this clever puzzle, they’ll soon outsmart you. The wooden toy requires your dog to maneuver the levers to reveal treats.
Made by the well-regarded line of Swedish puzzle toys, Nina Ottosson, it’s a great exercise in mental stimulation that keeps your dog curious.Shop on Chewy
Bob-A-Lot Interactive Pet Toy (Verified Review)
You know those blow-up bop bags you’d punch as a kid? This treat-dispensing toy by Starmark is kind of like that, only much smaller and filled with delicious goodies. It’s a dog puzzle to be solved with face and feet, so expect some loud and ecstatic playtime.
Fill the toy with your dog’s favorite treat, or even entire dinner, then customize the opening to determine just how many calories your dog should get. As he works for it, the toy bobs and tilts on an anti-slip, weighted base. It’s like dinner and a show.
Verified review: “The weighted base ensures maximum wobble to keep your dog interested. A great option for feeding your dog as it’s similar to slow feeders in the way it slows down the time to consume the food.” (For more about this toy, see the video review below.)Shop on Chewy
Like the Bob-a-Lot, the IQ Treat Ball can be filled with treats, with the opening based on the desired difficulty. Want to entertain your canine all day long? Tighten that opening. Make it easy? Open it up. A one size fits all dog puzzle toy.Shop on Chewy
Shaped like a warped tube, the Qwizle puzzle toy from West Paw can be stuffed with dog food kibble, apple slices, dog biscuits, jerky strips, carrot sticks, nut butters…you name it! As long as it’s healthy to eat and your dog likes it, feel free to stuff it into the Qwizl. West Paw claims this toy to be one of its strongest, so even if your pup is a heavy chewer, this highly durable toy should be able to withstand those chompers…at least for a while.Shop on Chewy
It’s like fast food for dogs. The Tug-A-Jug by PetSafe, which holds up to an entire meal’s worth of kibble, won’t only satisfy your dog’s hunger, but keep them occupied for quite some time, too.
The unique design is a rubber chew toy, rope toy, and food dispenser in one. It features a textured rubber nodule, which cleans teeth, a rope to tug on, and a jug you can fill with kibble or treats. Made in different sizes for breeds big and small, it’s basically a dog’s dream.Shop on Chewy
Dogs love this, because it’s basically their favorite game: fetch. Available in different sizes, the Tricky Treat Ball by Omega Paw is as simple as it sounds—a familiar ball shape, with tricky-to-find treats. No gimmicks here, simply load it up and watch as your dog pushes it around the house, trying to get their favorite snack out.Shop on Chewy
Designed with hues from your dog’s visual color range that activate natural behavior, this delightful puzzle is a fun challenge. Watch your dog flip and slide their way to hidden treats with their tongue, paws, and more—all while sharpening their cognitive skills.
Remember: dogs don’t have opposable thumbs. With a non-slip bottom, this game stays in place as long as it takes.Find on Amazon
Spin the alternating blue and yellow layers of this toy right ’round to dazzle your pet with a challenge. This game features several chambers to be filled with hidden treats that are only revealed after the dog spins each individual bone-shaped layer.
Increase the game’s difficulty by placing treats under smaller white bone blocks that fit into the compartments.Shop on Chewy
Available in three patterns, this soft toy mimics your dog’s strong sniffing instincts that are activated in the great outdoors. Made from durable fabric that’s also safe for pets, an anti-slip bottom helps keep the toy stable while your dog happily snuffles around for hidden treats. Bonus? It’s also machine washable.Find on Amazon
In a pickle? So are the dog treats inside this pickle-shaped toy! This latex, vinyl, and phthalates-free pocket-sized toy is both fun for dogs to chew and strong enough to stand up to each bite. Aside from providing an appealing treat-seeking challenge, up the fun, and bonding, factor by playing a game of retrieval with this toy—it even floats on water!Find on Amazon
Cones, discs, and knobs, oh my! With three separate compartment types to conceal treats, curious pups will have to put on their thinking caps to solve this puzzle and apply different techniques to seek their reward.Shop on Chewy
Keep ’em guessing! This puzzle toy is more play, less work; so it may be a better fit for dogs easily frustrated by more challenging toys. Kibble is sporadically doled out from three inner chambers via the Treat Meter, producing a pleasant surprise for your dog as they bounce the barnacle around.Shop on Chewy
Dogs have to work to knock their reward loose from this toy which traps treats in its ridges. To make the puzzle even more dynamic for precocious pups, you can interlock the small and large sizes for a bigger challenge. Because of its design, this toy has a larger degree of difficulty than some of the others, especially if you use treats that don’t easily dislodge.
Expect this toy to see lots of action and get a little dirty—good thing it’s dishwasher safe.Find on Amazon
How cute is this? You can stuff six little aliens into this plush spaceship for your inquisitive dog to remove in whatever way they can. To increase the level of intrigue, the aliens are all equipped with a squeaker that will surprise your dog when it’s compressed. This toy is kind of like seven toys in one, since you can toss the miniature Martians across the room for your doggie to retrieve.
Not recommended for heavy chewers who will quickly decapitate the adorable aliens. And know that squeaky toys can be fun for your dog but may not always be fun for you.Shop on Chewy
Trixie Mad Scientist Turn Around Interactive Dog Toy (Verified Review)
Let the experiments begin! Your dog will be challenged to flip the canisters upside down and keep them balanced until the treats fall out. This toy comes with several lids with varying hole sizes for increased or decreased difficulty and is likely best for a dog who’s familiar with puzzle toys due to its exacting nature.
Verified review: “This toy is a little more challenging and is designed for the intermediate canine gamer. It has three rotating beakers that can be filled with treats. Each beaker can be covered with two included sets of lids which can be mixed or matched to make it easier or harder.” (For more about this toy, see the video review below.)Shop on Chewy
You can see some of these (and similar toys) in action in our review video:
Learn about even more toys for your dog in the articles below.
- 6 Dog-Proof Chew Toys for the Aggressive Chewer in Your Life
- 10 Best Plush Dog Toys that Your Dog Won’t Destroy Immediately
- The Best Dog Toy Storage Options for 2019