Does your dog get bored or anxious sometimes? You may have told to try a dog puzzle toy! But what is a puzzle toy? These are dog toys that go beyond your basic tennis ball or rope toy by providing dogs with interactive fun that gets their minds going. They work great for keeping dogs busy, whether you have a puppy or an older dog with energy to burn. Lots of dog parents will say that some of the best dog puzzle toys are designed by Nina Ottosson, who creates dog puzzle toys with levels from easy to intermediate to hard. But there are lots of options and brands to choose from depending on your dog’s needs.
If you want to start your dog out with an easy dog puzzle toy, try a basic snuffle mat or a mat puzzle toy. These are mats with a long shag-like pile that you lay on the ground and sprinkle with treats or kibble for your dog to sniff out. Their simplicity is their strength and lots of dog parents swear by them! But if your dog is more toy motivated than treat motivated, a burrow toy could be a better fit. The popular Outward Hound squirrel puzzle toy offers squeaky hide and seek fun: your dog can dig the small plush squirrels out of the tree trunk burrow over and over! If you’re not into squirrels though, Zippy Paws makes similar burrow toy sets with different animals like foxes and bears to mix things up.
Treat toys like the KONG Classic and rubber West Paw line are also considered puzzle toys because your dog has to figure out how to get the tasty treats out. SodaPup makes fillable toys like this too in fun and familiar shapes like coffee cups and soda cans that are super cute. Another dog food puzzle to consider is a lick mat from brands like Lickmat. You can use these as a slow feeder or for occasional treats like wet dog food, peanut butter, or yogurt. These work by releasing endorphins in your dog’s brain as they lick the ridged surface. These happy chemicals keep dogs calm and content as they busily try to lick up every last morsel! All of these toys can be great options to soothe your pup when you need to leave them home alone or for crate training.