dog entertainment toys kong Toys

Why Should I Buy Puzzle Dog Toys? – All about Interactive Puzzle Toys to Entertain Your Bored Dog

Short answer for why you should buy puzzle dog toys: a bored dog is more likely to get into trouble. Puzzle toys are entertaining and help keep them occupied.

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Black dog doing dog toy puzzle

Let’s go a bit more in depth as to why you should consider puzzle toys for your dog. 10 years ago you likely had never heard of a puzzle for your dog. Heck, 5 years ago you may not have heard of puzzle dog toys. But, there’s a good reason interactive puzzle toys are growing in popularity among dog owners.

Why Dog Puzzle Toys

If you’re not entertaining your dog, they will look for their own entertainment. While this could be a chew toy or rolling around a ball, your dog may also find your furniture, toilet paper or worse. Utilizing tools like puzzles and interactive toys stimulate your dogs mind and keep them busy.

Dog’s originally helped and worked with their human companions. From hunting like when Pointer dogs showed their masters prey to herding dogs like Collies corralling animals. Now though, most dogs hang out in our homes, sleep through much of the day and get their food with no work from a bowl. Because they are leading easier lives, dogs now have leftover energy and, unfortunately, can become bored. These two factors, boredom and excess energy, are common causes of behavior problems in dogs according to Fetch by Webmd.

Try to watch this without yawning. PC: Nowness

Typical enrichment such as walks, fetch and tug a war can be enough for some dogs but others may need additional entertainment to stay out of trouble. Most people think about their dog’s physical needs but many forget about mental stimulation. Exercising your dog’s brain is just as important as exercising your dogs body. Best of all, mental stimulation can completely exhaust your dog.

Types of Puzzle Toys

Treat Dispensers

Dog enjoying treat dispensing puzzle
The extreme classic KONG

One of the classic and most well known interactive dog toys is the KONG. As many of you know, we are passionate about KONGs here. There’s a reason these toys have been around since 1976, they are simple but highly durable and interactive. Joe Markham, the inventor of the KONG, was actually inspired by a Volkwagen Bus suspension part. The inventor was working on his bus when his dog, Fritz, got a hold of the part and fell in love.

Suspension Part the KONG is based on
The suspension part which inspired KONGs

According to Roxanne Hawn’s article “Playthings, Then and Now” publish in AKC Family Dog, KONG paved the way for the industry of treat dispensing toys we know today. KONG continues to innovate and has tens if not hundreds of different types now in their toy line while other companies like Busy Buddy (now PetSafe) and Starmark invent other creative ways for your dog to dispense treat.

If you are looking for a budget friendly treat dispenser, grab an empty toilet paper roll or paper towel roll. Stick treats in the tube and seal the ends. Let your dog go to town getting the treats out. Because the cardboard will be destroyed, supervise your dog to ensure they don’t eat the paper.

If you want it to last longer, you can put peanut butter or cream cheese in there as well. You can go here for other treat dispenser food ideas.

Plush Hide and Seek

different hide and seektoys with happy dog
ZippyPaws has released many versions of the hide and seek toys

Hide and Seek Toys are great because there is not a food element to them which is many people’s complaints about most puzzle toys. The reward of this puzzle is the toy itself (and their secret squeakers) Hide and seek toys began with the Hide-a-Squirrel toy you’ve likely seen and have since expanded to many adorable different styles.

You can also now buy replacement hiding pieces is ones get too worn from play or get lost. The negative is hide and seek puzzles do not work for toy destroying dogs. Even if your dog is not typically a toy destroyer, you should still supervise at least the first time playing with this toy.

Puzzle Toys

Fynn figuring out his beginner Puzzle

This is the most sophisticated of the puzzle toys and what is considered a true “puzzle toy,” Nina Ottoson is who opened the door for puzzle toys in the 1990s and has since expanded her line to more intricate and fun puzzles. Her philosophy is “the dog has four legs and one head, and all five need activity in different ways – both physical and mental.”

These toys are designed with mechanisms to hide and reveal food. They can be more challenging for dogs so there are different levels and styles. Once your dog has figured their puzzle out, you can use different tricks to make it more difficult like filling it with peanut butter or soft dog food and freezing the puzzle.

These games often come in plastic and wood. While wood is more eco friendly and durable, plastic is good for dogs who drool heavily or if you want to use wet dog food.

Sleeping Tired Dog
Photo by Lisa Fotios on

At the end of this, puzzle toys are all about mental stimulation for your dog. Remember: A tired dog is a happy dog.

Featured image by Lisa Fotios on

dog entertainment toys Toys

HELP! My dog is destroying their toys

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How do I stop my dog from destroying their toys? From the photos on this post, you will see this question is a personal frustration I have experienced with Fynn. He has always been a super chewer/destroyer. We have worked with him to prevent a constant mess in the house and fluff everywhere (although, we’re not always successful).

If you’re here, you know the scene. You scour Chewy or Amazon for the perfect toy for your *angel* (or go to the sale section to buy the most affordable). You know your dog is a super chewer, but this review swears it held up for the reviewers crazy pup. With fingers crossed (and a bit of skepticism), you buy the toy. Delivery day comes and here it is, the new toy(s). Maybe you give the box to your dog to destroy first (our dog, Fynn, prefers the paper inside). You painstakingly take all the tags off and pray this is the one your dog will treat with loving care (ha!).

You make your dog sit and tell them “be gentle” passing them the toy with a wince. Off they go, shredding and destroying this minutes seconds ago perfect toy. Now it’s up to you to pick up the massacred pieces from the floor. If you’re lucky, a part is in tact enough to be saved for the toybox of corpses.

Black dog laying with the fluff and remains of destroyed toys
One of the first times we saw Fynn’s true destroying ways. You can see the remains of the thumbs up toy in the corner of the picture.

There are a few different reasons your dog may be destroying their toys as well as many opinions on whether to allow the destruction to happen. This post will explore:

Why your dog destroys their toys

Prey drive

One of the theories on why your dog loves the squeaky toys – it pulls at their ancestral instinct. While your pup lives a life of luxury with their food delivered in a silver bowl, their ancestors were predators and hunters.

Wolve licking his snout
Photo by Adriaan Greyling on

Potential TMI but, the squeak is reminiscent of the sounds the prey made and how they knew the hunt was not yet over. This would explain why your dog “goes for the heart” and is driven to make sure the squeaker is no longer making a peep.

Learned behavior

puppy laying on a minion toy with their tongue out
Photo by Pixabay on

People don’t do it purposefully but we can be teaching our dogs to destroy their toys. When dogs first start playing with toys, we find it humorous or cute to see them bound and shake their the toy, especially as a puppy. We all know how sharp a baby pups teeth are but their jaw strength isn’t there to do much damage to the toy. Our claps and support make the puppy think their playing correctly and doing the right thing.

As the puppy grows into a full dog, these encouraged adorable actions now turn into full on toy annihilation. Dogs want attention. Just like learning to sit and shake, they’ve received attention from destroying their toys and it will lead to more destruction.


If your dog is destroying out of boredom, the scene I set in the beginning is not likely what you’re experiencing. Your dog may be loving with their toys but then randomly one day you find the toy destroyed on your floor. This could be out of frustration or boredom.

dog looking bored on a cat pillow
Photo by Dina Nasyrova on

If you’re experiencing this, make sure your dog is getting enough mental stimulation and physical activity. When they’re home alone, you may want to leave them with a KONG or have a dog walker come by to give them a break during the day.

They love the interaction

A soft squeaky toy is interactive. Unlike their bone, which just sits there or their ball which maybe gives a bit while they’re chewing, a squeaky toy makes noise and changes while they’re going at it. Not only does it make noises, the seams rip and the stuffing comes out – it changes as they play. It’s entertaining and even mentally stimulating with a cause (the dogs bite) and effect (the squeak).

black and white dog with destroyed owl toy and stuff around
Fynn with his owl that lasted… minutes. It had ten squeakers and he was done within the day. Photo Credit: Entertainmydog

The dog has to work to figure out the toys weaknesses and how to get to it’s “heart.” This interaction makes the toy extra fun to some dogs.

You’re buying the wrong toys

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes and these days, dog toys do as well. A toy for a 5lb Chihuahua is not the right choice for a 50lb lab. 26lb Fynn has two 4lb aunties and we know we need to pick up all their toys when we arrive. Fynn does not need to try to destroy but their toys are so small he rips through them with just a quick chew.

Chihuahua with her tongue sticking out and a blue donut toy
Luna and her beloved donut – she will play fetch for hours on hours with this donut – every single night. Photo Credit: Entertainmydog

Make sure you’re following the manufacturers recommendation for toy size. If you have a super chewer, you may want to go a size up. Also, you often get what you pay for. So a cheap toy may be made cheaply. Even expensive soft toys may not be made well so it is often through experimentation to figure out the toys that work for your dog.

Should you stop your dog from destroying their toys?

There are a few school of though about whether to stop your dog from destroying. Whether you stop them or not, soft squeaker toys should always be given under supervision.

A big reason to end the killings is a selfish one: the pain to your purse. Continuously buying toy is expensive – even if you are getting them from the deals section of Chewy or at a discount store like Marshalls/HomeGoods. For this reason alone, you may want to prevent your destroyer from going after their toys.

The biggest problem with letting your dog destroy their toys is the health risk. There’s a chance your furry friend could eat the stuffing/squeaker/remains. If eaten, your dog could choke or the piece could cause a bowel blockage which could be deadly if not handled properly. Blockages may require surgery to fix.

But, people do believe in letting their dog destroy their toys because it’s stimulating and their dog gets enjoyment from the act. It also can let you teach them to destroy their toys rather than your cushions. If this is your decision, make sure to highly supervise while your pup is destroying.

black dog looking at camera with toy in mouth
Fynn with his beloved Fluff & Tuff Gator. The gator has survived months. You can see pieces have come off but the full body’s still intact. Photo Credit: Entertainmydog

How to teach your dog to stop destroying their toys

First, refer to the section on buying the wrong toys above. Now that you have the right tough toy for your dog, let the training begin. Our goal here is for your dog to “play nice” with their toys. Playing nice looks like rolling, tossing or mouthing.

  1. Ask you dog to do a simple command like sit and reward them with the toy.
  2. If playing nicely, reinforce the good behavior with treats, attention and pets
  3. If your dog starts trying to destroy or rip the toy apart, break their attention from the toy with an “eh-eh.” If this does not work, try a clap to get their attention. You’re not punishing your pup – he’s just doing what their instinct tell them to – but rather looking to distract them and stop the unwanted behavior
  4. Once your dog goes back to the toy and plays appropriately, reward again

This will not be a one time, one session teaching. You will have to work with your pup on how to play nice. This is not the type of training where you need to be zoned in with your dog so you can be watching tv or something else but make sure you’re paying attention to what your pup is doing.

Tough Toy Recommendation

While no toy is indestructible, here are a few curated, high quality options for your toy destroyer from many recommendations, reviews and personal experience. The brands here are all quality and have multiple toy options through each.

Fluff & Tuff Toys

Boxer brown and white looking up lovingly at his georgia gator
Photocredit: Fluff & Tuff

Fynn can chew through a toy within seconds, except for Fluff and Tuff toys. You can see his still alive gator in the photo of Fynn earlier in the article – which was taken while I wrote this post.

Don’t take my word for it though, read the reviews and see how long these toys last. While not indestructible (Fynn’s gator is missing a few legs and his back scales while his stingray is missing the tail), these toys are the closest thing we have found that last. They also wash up great in a washing machine.

MIGHTY Microfiber Ball

blue monster dog toy with microfiber fabric
Credit: Mighty

Mighty’s material on this toy moves with your dogs teeth instead of trying to withstand them. Instead of being stuffed, these toys have multiple squeaker balls to hold their shape. Pay attention to the size on this one. The junior size is meant for junior sized dogs. As discussed previously in the article, you may want to go up a size for your superchewer.

Tuffy Dog Ring

red soft ring with tuffy ultgear on the bottom
Credit: Tuffy

Made of 4 layers, these are a classic recommendation for tough chewers. Because they don’t have the small details like arms and ears, it’s harder for your dog to find the toys weak spots to rip off. A great part of Tuffy toys is that the squeakers are in material pockets of their own. This allows you extra time to get to your dog if they do get the squeaker out.

Bonus hard chew recommendation: Benebone Chew Toy

black and white dog with red color laying on his side giving the side eye with a benebone wishbone in his mouth
Just one of the many positions I’ve found Fynn in with his Benebone Credit: Entertainmydog

Fynn has many of the Benebone’s because it entertains him and they’re almost impossible to destroy. All of my dog parent friends know my love for the “Bene” and that it is my go to recommendation. There has never been a negative review from them or their pup.

The wish bone shape is perfect for your pup to grab with their paws and get a great chew. We also love the dental chew because it’s good for the teeth and the shape makes for a comfortable grip. They also come in 4 sizes to make sure it’s the right size for your pups mouth. Even 4lb Luna has an extra-small Benebone for her chewing pleasure.

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