We all love to do a puzzle, so much so the daily newspapers have a dedicated section in them. Word puzzles, number puzzles, it doesn’t matter, we love being challenged. And our pets are no different. Dogs are highly intelligent creatures and just as science has proved if we keep our human brains active we will fight off the signs of aging, so it goes with dogs too.
Dog puzzle toys are so great at relieving dog boredom that they are often the first port of call for dog behaviorists when recommending how to deal with a dog’s destructive tendencies. Because bored dogs will quickly find ways to entertain themselves, and they aren’t bothered what they destroy in the process.
As such, we reviewed dozens of dog puzzle toys to identify the best of the best. Amazon has such a broad range of dog puzzle toys including toys for aggressive chewers, dog snuffle mats, treat dispenser toys as well as puzzle games and treat toys for both small and large dogs.
The stand out top pick for best dog puzzle toy is the Outward Hound Hide a Squirrel. This dog puzzle toy has over 11,600 reviews on Amazon, with an average rating of 4.3 stars out of 5. This is one of the most popular dog puzzle toys available and for good reason too. Available in small to XL and with a range of different types of toy: squirrels, birds, hedgehogs, this is a toy to suit all dogs.
In This Article
The 5 Top-Rated Dog Puzzle Toys
|Best Overall||Outward Hound Hide a Squirrel||4.3|
|Runner Up||KONG Extreme Dog Toy||4.3|
|Best Budget Buy||OurPets IQ Treat Ball Interactive Food Dispensing Dog Toy||4.1|
|Best Dog Treat Puzzle Toy||Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Puzzle Brick Dog Toy||4.2|
|Best Dog Snuffle Mat||PAW5: Wooly Snuffle Mat||4.4|
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Our Top Pick: Outward Hound Hide a Squirrel
The Outward Hound Hide a Squirrel was a clear winner for our top pick due to the sheer number of positive reviews it has received on Amazon. Over 11,600 dog owners have purchased and reviewed this dog puzzle toy, making it a popular choice to relieve boredom in a great many dogs.
The Outward Hound Hide a Squirrel is a soft squeaky toy that stimulates your dog mentally through the game of hide and seek (or hide and squeak). This puzzle is so simple to set up, you merely stuff the squeaky squirrels into the trunk and let your pup hunt them out, and as a reward, they squeak when chewed. This dog puzzle is suitable for all dogs, even those on a diet.
If your dog tires of hunting out the squirrels, the individual toys are robust enough to be used in a game of fetch, both indoors and outdoors. And if your pup works his way through the squeakers in the squirrels, refills are available to keep the fun going.
Outward Hound Hide a Squirrel Key Features:
- Provides a mental workout for your pup
- Challenges your dog’s problem solving abilities
- Focuses their energy in a healthy, creative way
- Relieves boredom
Our Runner Up Pick: Kong Extreme Dog Toy
The Kong Extreme Dog Toy had to feature in the top 5 dog puzzle toys, because the Kong brand is one of the best available on the market, to keep your dog out of mischief. The Kong Extreme Dog Toy is suitable for a power chewer, but is available in sizes small to 2XL, depending on the size of your dog and their chewing ability.
This Kong Extreme Dog Toy is a versatile toy that can be used at home to relieve boredom, simply fill the inside with a dog friendly treat and leave your pup to lick and chew his toy to his heart’s content, or it can be used outside in place of a stick, for a game of fetch.
Not only is the Kong Extreme Dog Toy an awesome dog puzzle toy, but it is designed to clean your dog’s teeth and sooth their gums. This toy is made from an ultra strong, ultra durable rubber compound, meaning it is capable of withstanding even the most powerful of chewers. If not the winner, then an obvious runner up for best dog puzzle toy.
Kong Extreme Dog Toy Key Features:
- Available in sizes small to 2XL
- Made in the USA
- Suitable for powerful chewers
- Helps reduce boredom and separation anxiety
Best Budget Pick: OurPets IQ Treat Ball Interactive Food Dispensing Dog Toy
OurPets IQ Treat Ball Interactive Food Dispensing Dog Toy is a good budget buy as at just under $10, and with just under 7,000 positive reviews on Amazon, this interactive food dispensing dog toy is something all puppy households should be investing in.
This budget dog puzzle toy is the best puzzle toy at the lowest price. Simply fill it with your dog’s favorite treats and let them at it. This dog puzzle toy will encourage your dog to stay active during the day, dispensing a treat every time they get the puzzle right. As your pup begins to work the puzzle out, you can adjust the difficulty setting to keep them interested.
The OurPets IQ Treat Ball Interactive Food Dispensing Dog Toy works when your dog plays with it and rolls the ball around the floor. Treats fall out as the ball rolls over the dispenser, enticing your dog to keep playing.
OurPets IQ Treat Ball Interactive Food Dispensing Dog Toy Key Features:
- Low price
- Fill with your dog’s favorite treats for health feeding
- Twists apart for easy cleaning
- Ideal for small and medium sized dogs
Best Dog Treat Puzzle Toy: Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Puzzle Brick Dog Toy
The Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Puzzle Brick Dog Toy is our best dog treat puzzle toy as this treat training dog puzzle will keep anxious dogs entertained for hours. Dogs have to flip open lids on this game to retrieve the treats hidden underneath, and once they’ve figured that out, they then have to slide the bricks to get more treats hidden below. The bricks have scent holes in them to entice your dog to keep hunting out those treats.
This treat puzzle dog toy provides your dog with fun physical activity as well as mental stimulation, helping to relieve boredom and prevent destructive behaviors. The Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Puzzle Brick Dog Toy has three totally different treat feeding features, so if your hound figures out the first one, you have two others you can test him with.
Best of all, for a dog treat puzzle toy, this one is easy to clean. Simply hand wash with soap and water, rinse and dry, and it’s good to go again tomorrow.
Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Puzzle Brick Dog Toy Key Features:
- Easy to clean
- Has three different treat feeding features to keep your pup guessing
- Makes feeding fun and interactive
- Simulates your dog mentally and physically
Best Dog Snuffle Mat: PAW5: Wooly Snuffle Mat
The PAW5: Wooly Snuffle Mat is the obvious dog snuffle mat to feature in our top 5 dog puzzle toys. This snuffle mat, like all snuffle mats, encourages your dog to naturally forage for treats, just as they would in the wild. The Paw5 snuffle mat is fun to use, durable and machine washable, and best of all, it is suitable for any breed, any size.
The PAW5: Wooly Snuffle Mat material is sustainably sourced and handmade in either Thailand or Ghana, so it isn’t just great for your dog, it is great for the environment too. A snuffle mat works by engaging your dog’s sense of smell, stimulating them to hunt for food. Because of the mat’s shaggy design, it keeps the food hidden, challenging your dog for hours at a time.
This mat is perfect for all dogs, all shapes, sizes and abilities, it is even suitable for potbelly pigs to use.
PAW5: Wooly Snuffle Mat Key Features:
- Promotes natural foraging instincts
- Sustainably produced
- Perfect for all animals, even pigs
Who Should Buy a Dog Puzzle Toy
Who doesn’t love a brain teaser? Humans and dogs alike love puzzles, for the very reason that they stimulate us mentally. And if you have a pup that is bored during the day, the chances are you will be witnessing some unwelcome behaviors because of that boredom.
From way back when, dogs’ ancestors were kept busy hunting and scavenging for food, rarely did they get a chance to get bored. Unlike today’s furbabies.
Your dog has one thing to do during the day, especially if he is left at home alone, and that is wait for the sound of your key in the lock (unless you have an automatic dog door installed). That leaves a good 8 hours to fill. Boredom and loneliness would kick in with the best of us. For dogs with destructive tendencies, they can take their frustration out on your furnishings. And the bigger the dog, the worse the damage.
So it is definitely worthwhile investing in a dog puzzle toy or treat dispenser to keep your dog amused when home alone, or when you can’t entertain them 24/7.
Important Features to Consider
All dogs need a little mental stimulation and a dog puzzle toy is a great solution for relieving boredom. A dog puzzle toy should do several things well and have a few important features. Here’s what to consider when selecting a dog puzzle toy.
- Chewing ability. If your dog is a prolific chewer, purchasing him a soft toy puzzle is not going to be a great investment for you. He will go through that soft toy quicker than a hot knife through butter. Instead, invest in a durable rubber toy such as a Kong, that can withstand powerful jaws, or a puzzle toy that doesn’t require chewing, like a ball treat dispenser.
- Don’t assume understanding. Just because you buy your dog a dog puzzle toy, doesn’t mean he’s automatically going to get what it is he’s supposed to do with it. You’ll have to set aside some time to teach him the benefits of it, and what he’s supposed to do with it.
- Not for all dogs. Not all pups will respond positively to a dog puzzle toy, some will be thrilled by it, some bemused, some entirely disinterested. If your pup is in the latter category, there is a world of other dog puzzle toys to entertain them. Don’t force a toy on them if they don’t want it.
- Separation anxiety. If your pup suffers with separation anxiety, getting a toy that you have to play with together, isn’t going to help her, because she won’t be able to play with it when you’re not there. Invest in a toy that she can play with on her own, and distract her from your absence.
- Dog puzzles are not all created equal. Dog puzzles by different manufacturers are designed to do different things: to keep your dog going until supper time, to relieve their boredom, to distract them from you not being there or to let them get in touch with their primal side. Whatever it is you want to help your dog do, make sure you get the right dog puzzle toy to suit them.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a dog puzzle toy?
A dog puzzle toy is special dog toy that is designed to mentally and physically stimulate your dog by having an interesting puzzle they have to solve, in order to receive a reward. Rewards come in either treat form or sound form, depending on the dog puzzle toy you have purchased.
Are puzzle toys good for dogs?
Puzzle toys are great for dogs. All dogs. Dog toys are not a luxury dog item (imagine not getting a dog waste scooper), one that you can opt not to have for your dog, dog toys are essential for your dog’s mental well being. Not only do dog toys help your dog with boredom, they also provide comfort and a link to you, when you’re not present.
Puzzle toys are even better as they stimulate your dog mentally as well as physically. Dogs do not handle boredom well, just as we hate to feel at a loose end, so too do dogs. But dog’s boredom tends to manifest in unwanted behaviors. A puzzle toy is a great distraction aid.
How do you mentally stimulate a dog?
We dog owners can have a tendency to focus on physically stimulating our dog, however we shouldn’t neglect to mentally stimulate our dog.
- Don’t take the same walk route everyday. Mix it up and give your dog a new space to explore.
- Hide your pup’s treats and make them work to find them. Hide them in the grass if you’re outside or on a puzzle mat inside.
- Set up playdates for your pup with other dogs. Dogs are naturally social creatures, they love to play with their own kind, so either head on down to the dog park and let him make doggy friends, or arrange to walk with someone who also has a dog.
- Give your dog interactive toys that they can play with when you’re not there. Dog puzzle toys are a great idea as your dog has to figure out how to get the toy to release its treat, providing both a mental and a physical workout.
- Keep your puppy’s toys on a rota. Just as children tire of the same toys, so too do dogs. Halve or quarter your dog’s toys and rotate them every month or so, so that your dog feels as if they are constantly getting new toys to play with.
How can I stop my dog being bored?
Bored dogs are often under stimulated dogs, so you need to find something that piques your dog’s interest either mentally, physically or ideally both. This is where dog puzzle toys come into their own. Dog puzzle toys are designed especially to alleviate dog boredom and prevent any unwanted behaviors or habits from getting out of control.
Other ways to stop your dog being bored include:
- Giving them exposure to new places and new things.
- Taking them on new and exciting adventures, or even on the train, when you run errands, simply getting them out of the house and changing their surrounds can stimulate them.
- Giving them the opportunity to learn new things such as obedience training or dog agility classes.
Dog Puzzle Toys We Reviewed
We looked at 20 other dog puzzle toys. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best dog puzzle toys list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for your dog. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.
Non-Treat Dispensing Toys
An interactive puzzle toy to keep your dog entertained and occupied.
- Comes with three squeaky toys
- Toy refills can be purchased separately
- Great for small and medium sized dogs
The ultimate all in one puppy toy with multiple chew and rope toys and nose squeaker, to keep them entertained all day.
- A dog puzzle toy for young puppies
- Soothes gums as they chew
- Reduces boredom by stimulating your dog’s senses
- Unique brand parody
- Plush toys not only squeak, they also crackle and crinkle
- Great training tools to teach puppy not to chew your possessions
- Stimulates mental play
- Eliminates boredom
- Keeps dogs busy
Rubber Chew Toys
- Made of FDA safe rubber
- Effective for even the most ardent of chewers
- Suitable for all kinds of training including crate training
- Durable for strong chewers
- Engages your dog’s mind
- Suitable for large dogs over 50 lb
This 2 in 1 teeth cleaning dog toy is not just a treat dispenser, but thanks to its 360 degrees rotating rubber spikes that fit between your dog’s teeth, it is great for cleaning up dental plaque and tartar.
- 2 in 1 treat dispenser and tooth cleaner
- Prevents unwanted behaviors from developing
- Made of flexible rubber material
- 100% guaranteed against dog damage by manufacturer
- Made in America, recyclable and dishwasher safe
- Safe BPA-and-Phthalate-free, non-toxic and FDA compliant
Another awesome toy by Kong. This one is available in S – XL and is great fun for your pup to chase as well as cleaning their teeth.
- Use as a fetch stick that’s both safe and reliable
- Helps clean teeth and soothe gums
- Made in the USA
Treat Dispensing Toys
The interactive dog toy that comes in small or large, depending on the size of your dog.
- Adjustable treat dispensing toy
- Large chamber fits whole meals
- Weighted bottom wobbles
Another awesome product by Kong, this interactive treat dispenser will keep even the most bored of dogs entertained for hours.
- Entertaining wobble action
- Twist off dispenser for easy filling
- Made in the USA
An interactive dog toy that wobbles and dispenses treats as your dog plays with it.
- Dishwasher safe
- Made in the USA
- Washing machine friendly
- Tires your dog out mentally and physically
- Dogs have to dig to get the treats
- 4 slideable treat covers, 3 removable treat cup covers, and 8 total treat chambers
- The Busy Paw is made of durable MDF
- Not a chew toy, intended for supervised use
Snuffle Mat Puzzle Toys
This dog snuffle blanket puts your dog’s nose and brain to work by mimicking the hunt for food.
- Easy to use design to slow down their eating
- Easy to clean and carry
- Perfect for all dogs
The snuffle mat stimulates pet’s foraging instinct and satisfies pet’s sense.
- Multiple mats can be put together to become a big mat
- Perfect for any animal with foraging instinct
- Easy to clean, hand wash and machine wash are both OK
A slow feeding mat for preventing digestive problems and correcting bad eating habit.
- Attractive design
- Multiple mats can be spliced together to make a big size mat
- The soft cotton gives a grass-like feel and is gentle on your pet’s sensitive face and body
A large sturdy snuffle mat with non-slip pads on the bottom adds extra stability while in use.
- Great for slow food training
- Can be folded into the shape of a bowl
- Made of eco-friendly felt fabric
This snuffle mat mimics the hunt for food in grass and fields.
- Promotes mental and physical exercising while reducing stress
- Colorful design made of eco-friendly fabric
- It is machine washable and dryer safe
- Made of non slip material
- Can be washed by machine
- It can wear them out just as much as a walk