Fetch can get a little repetitive, and you may not always have the energy to run around in circles with your dog. They need to be entertained just as much as you do, and they may not always have friends around to play with. They can’t give their buddies a call, read a book, or watch their favorite show. That’s where puzzle toys come in.
Puzzle toys can keep your dog busy and stimulated for a prolonged period of time. Since puzzle toys are an active form of play, you need to be sure that the puzzle toy you choose is engaging and durable enough to justify its price. Not all puzzle toys are created equally. Your dog deserves the best.
Why Are Puzzle Toys Good for Dogs?
Puzzle toys are great for dogs. They’re not as easy to find as braided toys, bones, or toys that make noise, so most pet owners miss out on the opportunity to pick one up for their pups. If your dog doesn’t have a puzzle toy, there are several reasons why you should consider a puzzle over a conventional toy.
They Keep Your Dog Clever
Games like fetch are fun for dogs, but they aren’t very stimulating. Puzzle toys encourage your dog to use reasoning skills. If your dog is naturally curious, puzzle toys will allow them to explore that instinct. Encouraging your dog to think critically can keep your dog clever. It might even improve their ability to communicate with you or meet their own needs.
They’re a Low Impact Form of Play
Older dogs can’t romp around at the dog park the way they used to. Seniors can’t keep up with the puppies anymore, and that’s only natural. You should be supporting your dog’s joint mobility and overall wellness to allow them to participate in physical activity. For times where they’d rather enjoy themselves in a leisurely way, there’s always puzzle toys.
Puzzle toys still require interaction and movement, but your dog can do so at a calm and steady pace. Your dog will have to stop and think, and the promise of the reward at the end of the puzzle will keep them motivated.
They’re a Fun Distraction
Puzzle toys are a fun distraction for your dog when you’re leaving the house or when you’re really busy. If you’re too busy hauling laundry up and down stairs or bringing in the groceries to play with your dog, a puzzle toy will keep them occupied for a little while. It buys you some time to do what you need to do while he’s distracted.
Our Top 5 Puzzle Toys
1. Kong Toys
Kong toys are the quintessential pet puzzle toy. They’re simple. The Kong toy is semi-firm and hollow on the inside, with multiple tapered tiers on both the inside and the outside. These tapered tiers make it easy to trap a treat inside, which is exactly the purpose of this toy.
You shove your dog’s favorite treat inside the middle of the Kong. Your dog can smell it, and they want it. They need to figure out how to squash, bite, and roll the Kong to free the trapped treat or break the treat inside into pieces.
Kong toys are built to withstand this kind of abuse. They won’t harm your dog, and your dog can only minimally harm the Kong. When it inevitably gets messy, you can usually toss it in the dishwasher for easy cleanup.
Kong offers toys for pups of all sizes, from the tiniest teacup companion to your bear-sized lap dog. The packaging will help guide you on which size is best for your furry friend.
2. Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Brick Puzzle
The Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound brick puzzle is a multi-layered game designed to perplex your dog. Just when they think they’ve solved it, they’ll smell that there’s more kibble or training treats to be had. They need to figure out how to open the compartments to access the kibble and how to slide the open compartments to access hidden kibble compartments underneath.
This is a puzzle you can ease your dog into. Start by filling all of the obvious compartments and leaving the hidden compartments empty. Once they figure it out, only fill some compartments. When they become wise to that, fill some of the hidden compartments. When your dog becomes aware of all the toy’s variables, you can make it a challenge every time.
This brand makes several styles of dog puzzles, and they’re all affordable. If you alternate different styles of puzzle, your dog will have to attempt to memorize all of them. If your dog smarts up enough to crack them all quickly, you might as well start their campaign for mayor.
3. AïKiou Dog Bowl
This dog bowl is a feeder and a puzzle all rolled into one. The smart design of the bowl requires your dog to figure out how to get each of the compartments open to access their kibble. Small compartments can be used to house special treats, and a large compartment can be used to house their dry food.
Dogs have natural hunting instincts, and this challenging meal time puzzle encourages them to forage for their food. It’s also a helpful tool for dogs that often inhale their food and run to their sibling’s dish for an extra helping. This bowl slows them down and adds a few minutes to each meal time. It’s the perfect solution for meal-greedy dogs.
4. PetSafe Busy Buddies
Busy Buddy toys are similar to Kong toys, but with one major difference: the Busy Buddy releases a natural chamomile scent as your dog rolls it around and chews on it. This chamomile scent soothes anxious pets who are using their puzzle toys as distractions. If your dog has separation anxiety or is unhappy with loud noises outside, the Busy Buddy can keep them calm until things go back to normal.
5. AWOOF Snuffle Mats
Snuffle mats are the perfect puzzle toys for dogs who tend to sniff around at the ground or try to find some kind of hidden treat in the lawn. Snuffle mats replicate these conditions perfectly. Their billowy folds of fabric are perfect for randomly dispersing small treats. Your dog will need to sniff, root, and dig through the mat to attempt to find the treats.
Most snuffle mats can be connected. You can put four large mats together to create a larger foraging surface for dogs who deeply enjoy the hunt or for large dogs who make quick work of a single snuffle mat.
It’s All a Part of Keeping Your Dog Well
Puzzle toys are an important tool for your dog’s wellness. The wellness of your pet includes their mind just as much as their body. Puzzle toys keep them active, smart, and distracted from situations that might otherwise make them anxious. They’re a gentle activity for dogs who are a little too stiff in the joints to run around in the yard for a couple of hours.
VETCBD’s hemp-derived CBD extracts are formulated by veterinarians for your pets. They’re triple lab tested for purity, quality, and safety. Our CBD tincture supports joint mobility, normal brain function, and GI health. They also promote calmness in nervous dogs. Maybe a little CBD and a puzzle is all they need to unwind and feel better!