Best Dog Puzzle Toys & Dog Games
by Jessi Larson
We all love our dogs and want them to be happy and challenged, both mentally and physically. And other times we need them to chill out, or at the very least, be occupied with something that gives us a little free time. Luckily there are some pretty sweet dog puzzle toys and games that achieve all of the above.
But first, before you start adding dog puzzle toys to your shopping cart, some things to consider:
You don’t want to get a toy that’s too small for your big dog or too large for your little guy. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, “Thanks a lot for the advice, Captain Obvious.” But getting the wrong-sized toy happens all the time. Especially when purchasing a product online. So take a second to look at the dimensions to make sure they match up with your furball’s size.
Some dogs, regardless of size, are crazy chewers. It doesn’t take long to find this out. (As a puppy, Toby had a graveyard of chewed up toys until we figured out he needed extra durable…well, everything.) And while some dogs are easily entertained, the more curious and quizzical may need extra challenging dog toy puzzles and games. Knowing your pup’s ability levels can quickly narrow down options.
How much dough do you want to spend on dog puzzle toys? Dogs can be fickle creatures. Sometimes they’ll latch on to a toy and play with it forever. Sadly, like kids, they can also lose interest quickly. If you can afford it, try out a couple different dog toy puzzles and see what your pup likes. Or buy just one and see how it goes.
From our experience as well as talking with fellow pup parents, we’ve found that certain dog puzzle toys stand out among the rest for their design, quality and ability to keep dogs occupied and challenged.
Dog Puzzle Toys from Nina Ottosson
Nina Ottosson is a Swedish dog trainer, and boy does she create some pretty kick-butt dog puzzle toys. Her philosophy is that dogs need both mental and physical stimulation, so her products are designed to achieve both. Plus, they’ll totally adorable.
These interactive games exercise your dog’s mind and body; reduce behavior problems; help with weight control and prevent boredom.
Many different models are available. To figure out which one is right for your dog, it helps to read reviews and find out the pros and cons of both. We know our dogs better than anyone; it’ll become clear which one is right for your pup.
Top dog puzzle toys from Nina Ottosson:
Kong Wobbler Treat Dispensing Dog Toy
If I ever met the creator of the Kong product line, I would hug him. For an uncomfortably long time. Kong toys are so incredibly durable. And fabulously designed. And the brilliant part is that they work for all dogs, no matter what size or ability level. My giant Labrador still has the same Kong toy we bought him when he was a puppy. It is the only toy that has survived his high energy level, uber strength and destructive chewing.
But they’re not just for big dogs. My brother’s 8-lb Maltipoo loves his itty bitty Kong toy. It’s just the right size and he plays with it for hours.
Kong has upped its game with the . You place dog food or treats inside, and pups have to push it around to let out the tasty treats. But they don’t come out all at once; dogs have to work at it to earn their chow! And because this is a Kong product, it will last forever.
My friend Abby has an incredibly smart Goldendoodle named Auggie. (Side note: This breed is AMAZING if you have allergies like my poor pal.) Auggie is one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever met, and he loves his Kong Wobbler. The combination of the unpredictable wobbling and the intermittent food distribution keeps him occupied and stimulated for a very long time.
Busy Buddy Tug-A-Jug Meal Dispensing Dog Toy
The provides our pups with a multi-sensory experience that keeps them engaged for longer. Like the Kong Wobbler, the ultimate goal is to be rewarded with a treat. To earn this, dogs have to pull, push and maneuver. called Hoshi (fun name!) give it a go.
The fun part about this dog puzzle toy is that you can also use it to play fetch, tug of war or hide and seek, adding to the physical interaction and wearing out our furry friends much faster.
This toy comes in three sizes: X-Small, Small and Medium/Large. Check the weight ratings to see which model is right for your dog.
Buster Food Cube Interactive Dog Toy
This is another dog puzzle toy that has been a lifesaver for us. The first winter we had Toby was incredibly cold here in Minnesota. So cold that some days you couldn’t bring your dog outside for more than a bathroom break otherwise their paws would freeze to the snow. At this point, Toby was six months old, full of puppy energy and literally bouncing off the walls.
My husband Kyle did some online research and came across the . What a life saver. We added some of Toby’s dog food inside and placed it on the ground, and he would be entertained for up to 30-45 minutes. While the Kong Wobbler is designed for strength and unpredictability, the Buster Food Cube is much more agile and can really sail. This can get a little loud at times, especially on non-carpeted surfaces. But it is so worth it to have a dog challenged and entertained. Of all the dog puzzle toys, this is a favorite!
Dogit Mind Games 3-in-1 Interactive Smart Toy for Dogs
This is another we purchased for Toby that very cold winter. We don’t have kids yet, but I can imagine this is what it feels like to set up their new toys and play with them. I loved, loved, loved seeing Toby’s excitement over this new game. We set it up when he wasn’t looking so he didn’t know where the treats were, and after it was ready, we encouraged him to explore. When Toby has to really think about something, he gets this furrowed brow and an adorable wrinkle in his forehead. Sure enough, this appeared when playing with this 3-in-1 interactive game.
Unlike the toys above where you can give it to your dog and step away, this is really one that should be done together. As pet owners we can help guide them and challenge them along the way. Such a fun activity together!
Trixie Pet Products Windmill Interactive Dog Toys
The is on our Amazon wishlist at the moment. What’s cool about this one is there is not just one way treats are released but four! As soon as the windmill starts turning, dog treats are released. Once your dog gets a hang of this, you can increase the difficulty by changing up the lids which include different patterns.
also offers a bunch of different models that are ranked on level of difficulty. The company seems to understand that dogs are intelligent, curious creatures who need mental stimulation. Once pups master a dog puzzle toy, they need another challenge, which is what is so cool about the flexible design of these products.
Tether Tug Dog Interactive Dog Toys
Last but not least is the . As yes, we own one of these for our dog Toby. This is the type of toy you use when your dog needs physical exercise even more than mental stimulation. It is composed of a strong pole with a knotted rope toy attached. The way we use it is to hold the pole and swing around the rope toy, but you can also use the in-ground base accessory to set it up and let your dog play by themselves.
We use this toy both in the house and outside. I must admit it’s been a while since we used this with Toby. After moving last summer, the Tether Toy Dog was placed in our new basement amongst a bunch of boxes. The other day I was downstairs and heard Toby whining loudly. He had found his Tether Tug Toy and wanted to play! Even though it had been over a year since he last saw it, he remembered how much fun he had with it and wanted to play again.
Well there you have it, our list of best dog puzzle toys and dog games based on our first-hand experience and that of our close friends. Any others we are missing that should be on the list?