The 15 Best Dog Puzzle Toys to Beat Boredom
Like kids, dogs seem to have a sixth sense for wanting to play when you're at your busiest. While you could chalk it up to the nature of their breed (especially with high-energy breeds like German shepherds, Pembroke Welsh corgis, and Siberian huskies), the behavior stems from a need virtually all dogs have.
"Dogs as a species have deep roots in supporting people in solving problems such as hunting for food and protecting the pack from predators," says Bonnie Bradgon, DVM, MS, and co-founder of the Independent Veterinary Practitioners Association.
Meeting this need is simple: Introduce your dog to puzzle toys. These interactive toys usually use treats as positive reinforcement rewards to engage dogs in challenges like mazes, hide-and-seek tasks, and pattern recognition. The activities are so absorbing, they could help boost your dog's attention span.
How to Introduce Your Dog to Puzzle Toys
When introducing dog puzzle toys, Bragdon recommends playing alongside your pup to get them interested. "Research shows dogs are much more interested in play when their human partner participates," she says. You may have to try a few different kinds of toys before finding a good fit, too.
Some more words of advice: Steer clear of toys with small parts that could become choking hazards, use low-calorie treats as rewards and, if you're in a multi-dog household, be aware that toys and treats could lead to jealousy, so be mindful if the enrichment needs to be in separate rooms. After all, you know your dogs and their behavior best. Start your search for the perfect dog puzzle toy now with these engaging options.
The Best Dog Puzzle Toys for Each Difficulty Level
For puppies or dogs that are just starting to develop problem solving skills, these easier puzzles make a fun addition to your pup's toy box. Ease them in to the enrichment activity instead of giving them the hardest toy right away so they don't get frustrated or give up too quickly.
Intermediate dog puzzle toys are for pups who have progressed past the basic Kong toys and snuffle mats but aren't quite ready for the really difficult puzzles or interactive games. Keep these toys on regular rotation for dogs that enjoy a fun challenge that keeps them mentally stimulated for hours on end.
For the dogs that are all out puzzle masters, these toys are perfect for pups who are already bored of the beginner and intermediate options, and need something more up to their level.