The 18 Best Dog Puzzle Toys That Keep Your Pup Engaged · The Wildest

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18 Best Interactive Dog Puzzle Toys

Let the games begin.

by Marisa Meltzer
Updated January 10, 2024
Dog looking for treats in an interactive dog puzzle toy
Lenti Hill / Adobe Stock

It’s a classic scenario: You’re trying to focus on an important task — like cooking, working, or catching up on Survivor — and your pup is wanting all the attention…all the time. If you have a restless dog with a lot of energy to burn, dog puzzle toys and brain games are a great solution.

“Many dogs are under-stimulated and under-exercised...or pretty bored. They don’t have phones or watch TV,” says Stacy Alldredge, certified dog trainer, behaviorist, and founder of Who’s Walking Who. Dog puzzles and “interactive toys are a great way to give your dog something to do. They’re also a way for kids to do something with a dog that doesn’t make them mouthy and jumpy.”

Types of interactive and puzzle dog toys

In addition to the mental stimulation that a dog gets from interacting with a puzzle toy, playing and chewing releases feel-good chemicals in the brain, which keeps dogs happy, busy, and using up energy. Dog puzzles and interactive toys come in a variety of styles and skill levels that any dog can benefit from.

  • Durable treat dispensing balls are popular for solitary play. The dog rolls around the ball to release food.

  • Slow-feeder food cubes and pyramids, such as Kong and Fable Pets, require dogs to knock over the treat dispenser to get food.

  • With chew-puzzle toys, dogs need to chew and manipulate the toy to extract their reward.

  • Treat-puzzle games are interactive dog toys that require pups to flip open doors and lift compartments, using their paws and nose to find the hidden treats.

If your dog needs encouragement, make the toys more appealing by rubbing something tasty on them, such as peanut butter. When you first introduce your dog to puzzle toys, make it easy for them to get the treats, then gradually increase the difficulty so that they learn how to extract the food. Otherwise, your dog may get frustrated, leading to the opposite of what is intended through enrichment and mental stimulation.

Choosing the best puzzle toy for your dog

Not all toys are the same, and not all dogs will respond to the same toys. If your dog needs activity, try a treat game that slowly dispenses treats or kibble while they chase it around the house (preferably away from where you’re working). “Some dogs will eat out of a puzzle toy but not out of a bowl,” Alldredge says. If your dog does not have that problem, but rather is such a fast eater that they make themselves sick, try a snuffle mat that replicates foraging behavior and slows mealtime down. If your dog needs confidence building, try a simple puzzle game and gradually work them up to more difficult ones.

“A few years ago, I bought one of every dog puzzle game on the market,” Alldredge says. “And wow — some of them, like the Nina Ottosson ones, were so hard to figure out!” Puzzle toys aren’t just for puppies, either. “The biggest mistake people make is forgetting that adult dogs need entertainment, too.” Below, the top 18 best dog puzzle toys. Let the games begin!

Btw, our editors (and their pets) picked out these products. They’re always in stock at the time we publish, but there’s a chance they’ll sell out. If you do buy through our links, we may earn a commission. (We’ve got a lot of toys to buy over here, you know?)

18 best interactive dog puzzle toys

the interactive dog puzzle toy in yellow and blue

Using 12 hidden compartments and three dog-bone covers, the latest from cult-favorite dog brand Outward Hound allows pet owners to adjust the toy’s difficulty to meet their pup’s needs. Just getting started? No problem. With this toy, it’s easy to work up to more advanced dog puzzles.

Nina Ottosson, the mastermind behind this toy, is all about exercising your pup’s brain with the help of puzzles. “My goal is for dogs and their owners around the world to have fun with my products,” Ottosson told The Wildest. “I call them ‘games’ because the owner and the pet are supposed to play together, which strengthens the bond between them.”

awoof snuffle mat

This snuffle mat is perfect for pups who want a little extra mental stimulation at dinnertime. Just scatter treats or kibble throughout the felt mat and watch them explore.

“Snuffle mats are a great way to provide enrichment and entertainment by helping dogs use their amazing sense of smell to find the hidden food. Sniff-based mental stimulation can help promote overall relaxation in dogs, as well,” veterinary behaviorist Dr. Valli Parthasarathy told The Wildest.

iDig mat

For super energetic pups, the iDig is where it’s at. This toy allows pet parents to hide treats and kibble under the flap, so pups can let out some of those zoomies by digging their way to the prize.

“Diggers need to dig,” trainer and The Wildest Collective member Nicole Ellis told The Wildest . “I often hear frustration from pet parents about their  dogs digging  in the yard, couch, and on the bed. Dogs naturally love to dig; it’s an innate desire. Instead of reprimanding your dog(s) for digging, give them somewhere to dig. And yes, even  cats love this toy!”

red wobbler interactive kong toy

Kongs are less about solving a puzzle than keeping a dog busy. Fill this toy with your pup’s favorite treats, and they can bat it around for a fun interactive experience that will help keep their separation anxiety at bay when you leave the house.

“From puppies to seniors, everyone can enjoy a Kong,” Ellis added. “Studies have taught us that licking and chewing help release stress in dogs, and the Kong helps achieve that while allowing your pup to have fun. It also helps our dog get some mental enrichment and learn to settle and focus on something.”

interactive feeder in blue and white with kibble

This very pretty slow feeder will stimulate your pup’s mind and also slow their roll while they feast upon their dinner.

Behaviorist Karen London weighed in on why she loves slow feeders for pups: “My favorite way to keep dogs from scarfing down their food too quickly is to use a dog food puzzle or slow feeder dog bowl that is specific to this purpose ... Not only does this slow down their eating, but it also provides mental exercise and gives dogs valuable experience being persistent and handling a bit of frustration. Never a bad thing, right?”

Marisa Meltzer

Marisa Meltzer has contributed to The New York Times, Vogue, Vanity Fair, and is the author of This Is Big: How the Women Who Founded Weight Watchers Changed the World (and Me). She lives in New York City with her dog Joan.

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