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A bored dog will find their own entertainment and that entertainment may not be something you like from destructive behaviors to getting into things they shouldn’t. Dog puzzle toys are great ways to stimulate your dog’s mind. Entertain and exhaust your pup by making them work for their treats. Keeping your dog occupied is a great way to keep your dog out of trouble.
As my previous post all about interactive puzzle toys discusses, dog puzzles can be broken into 3 types of toys which are all covered in this post:
Puzzle toys are meant to be done fully supervised. They are great bonding activities with your dog but are not meant as chew toys.
Depending on your dog’s experience with puzzles and intelligence, there are varying levels for your pup to try and ways to increase the difficulty of the toy.
The introduction level. This is where you can begin to show your dog what puzzles are with only one step required.
Nina Ottosson Dog Smart (plastic)
The Dog Smart is the perfect introduction to dog puzzles. It is also likely the dog puzzle you have seen before. You put your dog’s treats or kibble under the bone compartments. If too hard, you can add strings to the holes on the bones to help your dog. If too easy, you can freeze peanut butter or wet food with water to the base. Plastic puzzles can typically go in the dishwasher.
Nina Ottosson Dog Smart (wood composite)
Material: Composite wood (plastic and wood blend)
The Dog Smart comes in a wood deposit as well from Nina Ottosson. The wood games are heavier and good for dogs who may be rougher on their toys. The shape of the top puzzle makes this a bit easier to remove the covers. You can wipe them down.
For the Poached Egg puzzle, Your dog needs to move the yellow compartments to get their treats. The center blocks have a different movement than the blocks on the edges for added difficulty. This could be considered a hard beginner puzzle.
Material: Wood and plastic
Place treats in the cups under the plastic pieces. The first few slots are easy but the last one or two are more of a challenge for your dog to reach. My Intelligent Pets considers this intermediate but based on the size and activity, it is a great beginner option.
Level: Beginner to Intermediate
The Game Bone is double sided for double the fun. The first side is cups with bone pegs for an easy level. The other side has sliders. You can also use the bone pegs as blockers for an extra challenge.
Similar to the beginner level but adds an additional block or obstacle to increase the difficulty.
Material: Composite wood (plastic and wood blend)
The Hide n’ Slide is a level 2 puzzle purposely made for puppies. The parts are also nonremovable so your pup can’t eat them. You put the treat in the cups in each area. Then swivel the flipper to cover the cup. From there, slide the teal block to prevent the flipper from spinning.
The Tornado is an upgrade to the Dog Smart. You put the treats in the holes and cover with the bones. From there, you twist the large compartments closed. A great option with the Tornado is putting broth or soft food and freezing it. This leads to extra time while your pup licks the holders clean.
Material: Wood and rope
The My Intelligent Dogs 2 Tower, has multiple mechanisms for you to hide their treats. Pull open the drawers or move the wooden cylinders. You can change the difficulty depending on the number of cylinder pieces on the game. Start easy and work your dogs way up to advanced.
The Dog Brick Puzzle has three different ways for your dog to find treats. The red compartments have lids to put treats inside and slide to reveal hidden treat cups. You can also put the white bone in between the red compartments to make it harder.
Material: Plastic and rubber
The Flip and Fun has 3 different ways to get the treats cups for your dog to figure out. You have the rubber cones, sliders and levers. Each is a different challenge for your dog to find their treats. These levers are a great way to test if your dog is ready to go up to the advanced level with more sophisticated mechanisms.
Material: Plastic, rubber, rope
The Trixie Poker Box 1 has four different large compartments. Each compartment has a different way to open – a string to lift, a hinge lid, a string drawer pull, and a lid that slides with a knob. The cool part of the Trixie Poker Box is the additional attachments available as well as a more advanced version (below).
You can attach these additional puzzles toy our poker box or play with them alone.
Advanced puzzles require multiple steps for your dog to reap the reward of a treat. It also may have more difficult mechanisms like locks.
Material: Plastic and rope
The Poker Box 2 can be used alone or added to the Poker Box 1 above. The four different sections of the puzzle each have a different way to get the treat. The four different compartments are a switch to lift a lid, a pawprint lever to push down, a tower with a piece blocking the treat and a compartment with a sliding lid. Trixie considers this game to be intermediate but based on our criteria of difficult mechanisms, Poker Box 2 comes out as advanced.
The Dog Twister is a level 3 Nina Ottosson puzzle. Level 3 is the advanced level which requires your dog to do sequential steps to earn their treat. You put your dogs food under the pawprint triangle. Your dog then needs to unlock the white “switches” to make the blocks movable. If too hard, you can add strings to the white switches to make them easier to pull.
While this advanced puzzle may appear simpler than some of the others in this section, it takes a lot to move the pieces and reveal all 15 different slots. This puzzle is made of wood so, if your dog is a drooler, it may not be the best option (see below for plastic).
Like Dog Sudoku above, you put treats in the cups below the blue sliders for the Challenge Slider. The bottom tray can be pulled out for easy filling. At 5×5, your dog needs to move 24 pieces around to find all their kibble or treats.
Material: Plastic and rubber
The Mini Mover from Trixie is as fun for your dog as it looks. There are four different ways for your pooch to find treats. The lever on the left reveals not one but two cups of treats. This makes your dog focus and not get distracted by the first cup of treats. You also have sliders, rubber blockers and a pull drawer.
Material: Composite Wood (plastic and wood blend)
The Dog Worker is a level 3 Nina Ottosson puzzle made of composite wood for extra durability. The Dog Worker is the more advanced version of the Hide n’ Slide. This toy has a variety of ways to access the cups with the treats. Spin the center top to uncover the cups and load up with treats. Cover with flippers then put the blocks to stop the flippers from moving.
The Dog Casino is a level 3 Nina Ottosson puzzle made of plastic. The bones on the top act as locks to the drawers. You can start with all of the bones unlocked so your dog just needs to open the orange pulls. Then increase the difficulty by locking the drawers.
Expert level requires multiple steps in a row to get the treats. While the first one or two may be easy, it often requires many steps in the right order to reveal all the treats. Expert is a new level for dog puzzles and we will be adding more puzzles as they are released.
The MultiPuzzle is currently the only puzzle from Nina Ottosson at the expert level. You put the treats under under the lime green sliders on the outside track as well as under the orange circles in the middle. While the first outside track treats may be easy for your pup, moving them to reveal the farther treats will continuously up the difficulty. For the center treats, your dog needs to rotate the green center to the open spot and slide in the orange blocker to get the treat beneath it. Nina Ottosson has a great explanation as shown below:
Like the above puzzles, treat dispensers are great options for food motivated pups. They have to work hard to get out their treats.
The Bob-A-Lot is a treat dispenser style puzzle. You fill the base and your dog bats it around to get the food or treats out. This puzzle is great for meal times. It allows you to make eating a challenge instead of your dog easily scarfing their food from a bowl. An awesome option for dogs who eat too quickly.
Mostly solid with a few holes, the tumbler is a great ball to keep your dog happy. Fill it with treats and your dog will love chasing it around the room to get the treats.
Material: Thermoplastic rubber and plastic
The UFO is has two sides with a different maze inside each to get the treats out. The opening is adjustable for treat size and difficulty. Many people vote for this over a typical treat dispenser ball because of the added layer of difficulty. Your dog may need to rotate or flip it to reveal all the yumminess inside. All pieces can be separated and put in the dishwasher.
Material: Thermoplastic rubber
The Snoop is different than other treat dispensers in that it uses the deep crevice and fold to keep the treats confined. The soft TPE material allows for quiet play. You can put a pull piece of sliced cheese inside for your dog to try and get. You can also add a ball to the center for an extra challenge.
The treat tumbler releases treats when your dog rolls the dispenser. For added time, there’s a maze at the bottom to slow your dog eating their treats or kibble. A great part of this puzzle is the knobs which allow for adjusting the height.
Like the treat tumbler, your dog bumps the tubes around to get treats out. This one has 3 different tubes instead of the one roller. There’s two different lids to adjust difficulty. When your dog is just leaning, you can leave the lids off for the easier fun.
Plush Hide and Seek
Plush hide and seek games all have the same concept but different looks. You hide the smaller plush objects inside of the larger soft container. Your dog then “hunts” them out of the toy. Below are a few of the fun varieties available.
While beloved by many dogs and owners, plush games are not great for super chewers who destroy their toys.