Physical exercise isn't enough for most dogs. They need mental stimulation too! Keep reading as we discuss why puzzle toys are important for dogs of all ages and review some suggestions.
What are Puzzle Toys?
Puzzle toys are brain-stimulating and interactive toys for dogs that encourage problem-solving usually followed by a tasty reward at the end.
There are various levels of difficulty among puzzle toy options and it is advised that every dog starts with something really simple to gain understanding and confidence before increasing the difficulty level.
Benefits of Puzzle Toys
Have you ever played fetch with your dog for a really long time and thought "wow, they don't even seem tired" or taken your dog for a long walk and they're still full of energy and wanting to play after? This is because dogs need a combination of both physical AND mental exercise. Puzzle toys are a great way to provide mental exercise and stimulation plus it just might help make them the most clever dog on the block.
Puzzle toys are fantastic for dogs of all ages from puppies to seniors. So if you have an older dog, try the DIY below and watch your dog enjoy something new.
DIY Puzzle Toy
It's recommended to start your dog off with a super simple puzzle toy. This teaches them active problem-solving skills and acts as a foundation to increase to more difficult problem solving as their skills increase.
Here is a simply DIY you can get started with today!
Grab a muffin tin, put a tasty treat your dog LOVES in one, and place a tennis ball over the treat. If your dog is having a hard time moving the tennis ball, try and stack the treats a little higher so it's easier for your dog to nudge the ball off the muffin tin.
As your dog gets the hang of this, slowly start adding more tennis balls with treats under them until the entire tray is full.
Once your dog becomes a muffin tin game master, only hide treats under some of the tennis balls so they must use their nose to figure out which balls the treats are hiding under.
While this game works with dogs of all sizes if you find your smaller dog is having difficulty with the large muffin tin and balls, you can try the same game with a mini muffin tin and smaller balls.
Try this with your dog and post a video or photo on social media. Don't forget to tag us @dogehofficial so we can check out your post and see how much fun your dog is having!
Puzzle Toy Recommendations
Had fun with the muffin tin game and looking to level up? Try one or all of the below puzzle games for even more fun!
Toppl Interactive Treat Dispensing Toy
A great alternative to the classic Kong toy, the Toppl can be stuffed with treats, kibble, or raw dog food. Toppl provides an interactive way for your dog to eat treats or a meal.
For a higher difficulty level try mixing plain Greek yogurt with the treat/food and freeze it before giving it to your dog. You can also try this with peanut butter, but make sure Xylitol isn't an ingredient as is extremely toxic to dogs.
Looking for another way for your dog to play? Buy two different sized Toppl toys and fill the larger one with treats/food but leave enough room to put the smaller Toppl on like a lid. Your dog will need to figure out how to get them apart to get at the goodies inside. If your dog is too quick with this, try freezing it before giving it to them.
Please note this toy is designed for up to medium-level chewers.
Hide a Squirrel Plush Puzzle Toy
Have a dog that is more toy motivated? Try this cute Hide a Squirrel toy!
You hide the plush squirrels inside the log and your dog has to figure out how to get them out.
Please note this is a soft toy that should be used by dogs that don't destroy stuffed animals.
StarMark Bob-A-Lot Interactive Toy
The ball will wobble and topple, only dispensing a couple of treats or pieces of kibble at a time leaving your dog trying to figure out how to get the rest out.
The large treat chamber is big enough to fit a dog's entire meal which means you can make mealtime even more fun and slow down dogs who eat too fast.
An adjustable opening at the top allows you to regulate the difficulty level.
Snuffle mats are awesome for engaging your dog's nose and engaging their brain to actively try and find their treats.
Simply hide treats or kibble between the folds of fabric and let your dog find it. For dogs that eat fast, using a snuffle mat to feed their meal can help slow down eating.
This snuffle mat has enough options of where to hide things that your dog should never get bored with it. The mat folds in half for easy storage and is machine washable.
Once your dog finds the treats the mat should be put away so they don't destroy it or continue looking for rewards that aren't there.
Please remember that dogs should never be left with toys unsupervised. Toys should be regularly checked for wear and tear and disposed of when they become damaged.
We want to see your dog having fun! Don't forget to post a video or photo on social media and tag us @dogehofficial so we can check out your post and see how much fun your dog is having!