The 24 Best Dog Puzzle Toys for Bored Dogs
Banish boredom from your dog's life with these clever puzzle toys. Your pooch will be mentally stimulated, physically active, and a lot less likely to destroy your home.
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Why are puzzle toys so good for dogs?
Just like humans, dogs get bored—and when that happens, they tend to act out by destroying your slippers, your sofa, and other stuff around your house that isn’t theirs. That’s where dog puzzle toys come in. These mentally stimulating toys banish boredom as your pup attempts to figure out how to get a reward, usually a treat. While all dogs need a healthy dose of play and engagement, these genius little products are particularly beneficial for dogs that live in an apartment without a yard or don’t have the opportunity for a lot of playtime.
But not all puzzle toys are right for all dogs, explains Tammy Helzer, DVM, a veterinarian at the Humane Society of the White Mountains in Arizona. Both the breed and age of your pet will play a role in determining what’s best. For example, herding breeds, like Border Collies and Australian Shepherds, have the most energy, so they need the most stimulating toys. Plus, if you have a particularly aggressive chewer on your hands, you’ll want to choose an indestructible dog toy, as opposed to a plush one, which might end up with the stuffing torn out in seconds.
How we chose our 20 favorite dog puzzles
While these toys definitely qualify as things your dog wants from you, he can’t very well tell you which ones he’d prefer. So we sourced our recommendations from the next best thing: pet experts, including a veterinarian and animal behaviorist, as well as pet parents who raved about these products in online reviews. On this list, you’ll find options for beginners all the way to advanced pups with serious skills, as well as everything from treat-dispensing toys to strategy-based squeaky toys that dogs go wild over. Enjoy watching your pup’s mind at work—and a little quiet time for yourself, too!
AWOOF Pet Snuffle Mat
The hunt is on! This interactive feed game, which has more than 8,500 five-star reviews on Amazon, challenges dogs to find treats or small toys hidden in the grass-like pieces of a mat. Dogs love it because it keeps them occupied, but it also encourages their natural foraging and sniffing skills and can even help with stress relief. Even better? It’s machine-washable and eco-friendly, and it stays put because of its no-slip bottom. You can DIY a similar puzzle toy by tying durable fleece to rubber grating, says Grigg. Don’t forget to bookmark more of the best dog toys on Amazon.
StarMark Bob-a-Lot Interactive Dog Toy
StarMark’s Bob-a-Lot interactive toy exercises and feeds your dog at the same time. The large bottom chamber fits up to three cups of food, so it can actually provide a full meal (though it’s also offered in a small size). And it’s not too difficult to use, says Grigg, so it provides the perfect balance of engagement and reward. Wondering how it wobbles without falling down? It’s got a weighted anti-slip bottom, allowing this puzzle toy to wobble erratically—which motivates your dog to play.
Outward Hound Dog Tornado
Your little force of nature will have to work for his snacks if you buy Outward Hound’s Dog Tornado. The three layers spin around one another, allowing your dog to slowly discover the hidden treats in the 12 different compartments. Wondering if it works? Thousands of pet parents with some of the smartest breeds vouch for this dog puzzle toy. Verified Amazon reviewer Courtney Oldham writes, “This is awesome! My border collie’s level of intelligence is a part-time job for me. This puzzle took him a good hour and a half to figure out the first time, and every time after that, he sits with it for about an hour. He’s really calm (which he’s normally not) and concentrated with it, methodically moving pieces.”
HETOO Interactive IQ Treat Ball
Made of 100 percent natural rubber, this out-of-this-world, UFO-shaped IQ toy is ideal for medium to large dogs who love to chase. And it’s great for both free-time play or training exercises. As the dog rolls the ball, treats will fall out, rewarding him for being active. The only issue, notes Grigg, is that this toy may be difficult to clean thoroughly. On the plus side, she says it looks pretty durable. Did you know that some pet cameras can also dispense treats when you’re not around—or when you’re directing them remotely?
Trixie Chess Game
Dogs are a lot smarter than you think, and certain breeds will really keep you on your toes. This Level 3 Trixie toy has four levels of play that require varying levels of concentration from your pooch, and it’s best for more advanced dogs because not only do they have to pull the cones out, but they also have to slide the plates around to get to the food. Stack up the various levels of cones and sliders to increase the difficulty. Bonus: It has non-slip rubber feet that will keep this dog puzzle in place when your pup gets a little too excited about the treats inside.
Outward Hound Fun Feeder Slo Bowl
This affordable fan favorite has a whopping 48,000 glowing reviews and counting on Amazon, with happy pet parents raving that it “totally lives up to the hype.” So, what does it do? Exactly what it says: It slows down fast eaters, helping them eat up to 10 times slower. That aids with digestion, prevents bloat, and wards off obesity. Plus, it’s fun to play with your food! Your pup will tap into his animal instincts by foraging for kibble through the fun patterns and mazes within the bowl. Wondering if your dog needs this? These are the warning signs that your pet may be overweight.
Outward Hound Hide-a-Squirrel Squeaky Toy
Squirrel! That got your attention—and it will also get the attention of your dog. This interactive puzzle toy is all about sniffing, hunting, and fetching, and the reward is a stuffed squeaky toy, not food, which is good for overweight dogs. While this probably isn’t the best choice for super intense chewers, it’s perfect for dogs that don’t destroy their toys instantly. More than 25,000 Amazon reviewers sing its praises, saying that their dogs are obsessed and entertained for hours. Here are more products pet owners say they can’t live without.
Most dog owners already have a Kong for their pups to chase after and gnaw on, but did you know you can also turn it into a puzzle toy? If you add treats to the inside, they’ll be challenged to figure out how to get it out of the small hole. Bonus: If you put a treat in it and freeze it, it will entertain them for even longer. A doggy staple for more than 40 years, it comes in six different sizes, making it great for small, medium, and large dogs.
Spot Seek-a-Treat Shuffle Bone Dog Puzzle Toy
Made with durable plastic, Spot’s Seek-a-Treat Shuffle Bone Dog Puzzle Toy is like Solitaire for your pup, according to one reviewer. Your smarty-pooch will need to slide the round disc to the left or right to retrieve the treat. Just make sure to use small treats in the slots so your dog doesn’t end up being overfed. While we’re talking treats, try making these simple homemade dog treats your pup will love.
Ito Rocky Treat-Dispensing Slow Feeder
This is another puzzle toy that keeps dogs busy and slows down the speed at which they eat. (Do you see a theme developing here?) For this one, they first have to get the food out of the top by turning the wheel. Then, for even more fun and brain stimulation, they have to collect it from a puzzle that looks like a maze down below. Reviewers say it’s also a great toy for cats.
Starmark Pickle Pocket
Your dog will be in a bit of a pickle working hard to get treats out of Starmark’s puzzle toy that—yes—looks like a pickle. Made of latex, it’s free of potentially harmful phthalates, as well as dishwasher-safe. For maximum furry fun, switch up the treats you slip inside the pocket. Just make sure to use treats that are small enough for your dog to get out without too much frustration, says Grigg.
LC-dolida Dog Puzzle Toy
Do you want to improve your dog’s decision-making skills? This is the training tool for you. The flower tray offers a hidden food cup design that won’t give your pooch time to worry or get bored. Silent and durable, this toy is good for your sanity, as well as your dog’s. Like most dog puzzle toys, this one will reduce destructive behaviors, but it’s also particularly great for engaging your pooch’s natural hunting and digging instincts. Verified Amazon reviewer Clarice Perry calls this “just the ticket for nighttime ‘puppy crazies,'” saying it’s the only thing that calms down her 17-week-old dog when he gets a serious case of the zoomies.
Volacopets Balls (5-Pack)
This well-rated, $15 package of balls by Volaco Pets is a terrific buy, especially if you’ve got multiple dogs. Choose from a giggle ball, a squeaky ball, a rubber ball, a rope ball, and a dental-cleaning ball—great for keeping your dog’s teeth fresh and pearly-white. Grigg likes the variety here (some are puzzle toys, some aren’t) and suggests rotating the toys out instead of leaving all of them around for the whole day. While some toys can improve oral hygiene, this is how often you should actually be brushing your dog’s teeth.
Outward Hound Dog Casino
Think of this puzzle toy as blackjack for your dog. This Dog Casino, which has more than 33,000 five-star Amazon reviews, dispenses treats in sequential steps for more challenging play. There are six pull-out compartments, along with six moving pieces. Nope, it’s not easy, but it’s perfect for your furry Einstein. Skip the dishwasher for this one, and hand-wash instead. And remember: No matter how entertained your dog is, there is a limit to how long you should leave them alone.
Bojafa Dog Puzzle Teething Toys
This two-pack of puzzle balls by Bojafa (one green, one turquoise) is available in both small or medium/large sizes, and better yet, they’re made of non-toxic rubber that’s resistant to punctures. You can stuff pet treats into the opening of each ball, making the challenge exciting before playing fetch. In some cases, though, it might be frustrating for a dog, says Grigg. The bottom line: Know your dog and see what works best.
Outward Hound Dog Brick Interactive Treat Puzzle
Let the games begin! With more than 33,000 five-star reviews, this Outward Hound puzzle toy has three different treat-feeding features, which use open-close flip compartments and removable bone puzzle pieces. Grigg says this Level 2 treat product is a more challenging puzzle toy—one that a beginner pooch can graduate to over time. Here’s how to tell just how smart your dog is.
Omega Paw Treat Ball
Even though this toy by Omega Paw is super simple, it can keep your dog busy for a while. It’s designed with a small hole in the side of the ball, where you can put your dog’s favorite treats or kibble. Your dog will then have to use his nose and paws to roll the ball around until the food comes out. It comes in sizes small, medium, and large, and doubles as a great toy for fetch.
Outward Hound Dog Smart Interactive Treat Puzzle
If your pooch is more used to getting his treats on a silver platter, this Level 1 Outward Hound toy is the perfect beginner puzzle, says Grigg, because it’s easy to figure out. Your dog will simply need to nudge at the nine removable treat-dispensing compartments (the bones) to reveal the rewards. With more than 33,000 five-star reviews, this is a fan favorite, helping to redirect destructive dogs and slow down their gobbling. Pet parents say that even after their dogs learn how to get the treats easily, they still enjoy the game.
Kong Stuff-a-Ball Dog Toy
It’s Kong to the rescue…again! Shaped differently than the brand’s signature product, this Kong features a unique shape and patented Denta-Ridges, which double as teeth cleaners. (Though there’s no true substitute for a good dog toothbrush, of course.) Stuff the center and the ridges around the side with something gooey, like peanut butter, and your dog will have tons of fun licking it out. Speaking of licking, ever heard of a dog lick mat?
One happy customer says this durable toy has lasted for almost five years in her house and that it’s a total lifesaver. “[My dog] absolutely hates when I’m on my computer or doing crafts/art/anything that does not involve sitting with him and giving him undivided attention,” writes Amazon reviewer Amy Good. “So sometimes I have to find him things to occupy his little brain and his time so I can get things done. This is a great one! I jam some soft treats right up in those treads and he works on it for AGES!” Talk about a great brain game for your pup!
Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball
The challenge: Learn to roll the ball properly in order to get the treats to fall out. Grigg says the difficulty level can be adjusted via the toy’s internal disc, making it good for beginners and for more advanced dogs. Available in two sizes, it’s great for both small and large dogs for “hours of fun,” according to reviewers, particularly if you have “high-energy, intelligent breeds.” If your pup is up for another challenge, try teaching him these easy dog tricks.
Trixie Poker Box Strategy Game
This dog puzzle toy is a Level 2, putting it at an intermediate skill level. You can use the four boxes in a few different ways—individually or by placing all of them on the base together. Best for smarter dogs, it requires different techniques for handling lids, flaps, knobs, ropes, and drawers. And here are a few bonuses for you: The rubber feet help to keep the base in place, and the pieces are all dishwasher-safe.
Trixie Flower Tower Strategy Game
It’s all about strategy with this Trixie toy, which helps fast eaters slow down a bit. You can set it up with varying degrees of difficulty by adding or removing cones—just don’t let your furry friend see where you hide the treats! This one also includes a booklet with easy training tips, perfect for puppies or older dogs who could use a few refreshers.
Frisco Retro Waffle Box Hide and Seek Plush Puzzle
Light and fluffy, Frisco’s Hide and Seek Plush Waffle Box dog puzzle will keep your dog busy. That way, you’ll get to enjoy your own waffles on a Saturday morning! This set comes with a plush waffle box base, three waffles, and three strawberries—and each item includes a squeaker inside. One word of warning: If your pooch is a heavy chewer, this isn’t the best option…for more than one fun play session, anyway. Now that your pup is all tuckered out from these brain games, find the best dog bed for him to relax in comfort and style.
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- Tammy Helzer, DVM, a veterinarian at Humane Society of the White Mountains
- Emma Grigg, PhD, a certified applied animal behaviorist and lecturer at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine