The 19 Best Puzzle Toys That Actually Help Bored Dogs

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We love puzzle toys, and your dog will too. Often recommended by dog behaviorists, these interactive dog toys are designed to help keep your dog busy while you’re away, stave off boredom, and stimulate their natural curiosity.

While these toys offer much-needed mental stimulation for your pup, nothing can replace the value of engaging in interactive play with your dog (i.e. tug-of-war or fetch). But when you can’t be there, puzzle toys are a great supplement.

Here are some of our favorite puzzle toys for dogs.

Kong toys have been a favorite chew toy of furry friends for more than 30 years. The bouncy rubber toy can be stuffed with a treat like dog-safe peanut butter (and so much more.)

Whether your dog is pawing it around the house or carefully licking out every last goody, it’s bound to keep him entertained all day long. Available in multiple sizes and with special varieties for puppies, seniors, and extreme chewers.

Product picture of the classic Kong Dog Toy

Kong Classic Dog Toy

This interactive toy is a go-to for so many dog owners. It’s affordable, reliable and great for keeping dogs engaged.

We love that this toy is made in the USA and is recommended by many veterinarians and dog trainers.

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For more Kong toy recommendations, check these out.

Move over hide and seek, there’s a new game in town—and it’s called hide and squeak by Outward Hound. This plush puzzle game is simple: you stuff the adorable little squeaky squirrels into the oh-so-soft tree trunk and watch your dog pull them out one by one. Then stuff ’em back in, and do it again. This interactive toy is super fun and food free for dogs on a diet.

Available in four sizes, it’s slightly less cardio-heavy than the chasing of squirrels IRL, but it keeps dogs just as entertained.

Certified dog trainer Shoshi Parks recommends this toy in her article, How to Buy a Quality Dog Toy (and Avoid a Dangerous Fake).

Product image of the Outward Hound Hide A Squirrel, good for dog's mental stimulation

Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel (Verified Review)

This plush puzzle toy is great for dogs who love squeakers and a solid alternative to treat-motivated games. Plus, it comes in four sizes to best fit your pup.

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Watch out! If you let your dog spend too much time with this clever puzzle, they’ll soon outsmart you. The wooden toy requires your dog to maneuver the levers to reveal treats.

Made by the well-regarded line of Swedish puzzle toys, Nina Ottosson, it’s a great exercise in mental stimulation that keeps your dog curious.

Product image of the Nina Ottosson Outward Hound Puzzle Toy for Dogs, good for dog's mental stimulation

Nina Ottosson Outward Hound Puzzle Toy for Dogs

This high-quality interactive toy by Nina Ottosson is sure to keep treat-motivated and curious dogs busy.

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You know those blow-up bop bags you’d punch as a kid? This treat-dispensing toy by Starmark is kind of like that, only much smaller and filled with delicious goodies. It’s a dog puzzle to be solved with face and feet, so expect some loud and ecstatic playtime.

Fill the toy with your dog’s favorite treat, or even entire dinner, then customize the opening to determine just how many calories your dog should get. As he works for it, the toy bobs and tilts on an anti-slip, weighted base. It’s like dinner and a show.

Verified review: “The weighted base ensures maximum wobble to keep your dog interested. A great option for feeding your dog as it’s similar to slow feeders in the way it slows down the time to consume the food.” (For more about this toy, see the video review below.)

Product Image of Bob-A-Lot Interactive Pet Toy, good for dog's mental stimulation

Bob-A-Lot Interactive Pet Toy (Verified Review)

Not only will the Bob-A-Lot keep your dog entertained, you can also use it to feed your dog—slowing them down and activating their mind at the same time.

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Like the Bob-a-Lot, the IQ Treat Ball can be filled with treats, with the opening based on the desired difficulty. Want to entertain your canine all day long? Tighten that opening. Make it easy? Open it up. A one size fits all dog puzzle toy. Toys like this are great for keeping your dog physically active while also ensuring they are staying stimulated and less likely to be destructive.

Product Image of the 5. Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball Interactive Dog Toy

Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball Interactive Dog Toy

This affordable treat-dispensing toy comes in two sizes to best fit your dog. Fill it with a few treats for active playtime or with their food for an engaging dinner.

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Shaped like a warped tube, the Qwizl puzzle toy from West Paw can be stuffed with dog food kibble, apple slices, dog biscuits, jerky strips, carrot sticks, nut butters, you name it! As long as it’s healthy to eat and your dog likes it, feel free to stuff it into the Qwizl. West Paw claims this toy to be one of its strongest, so even if your pup is a heavy chewer, this highly durable toy should be able to withstand those chompers, at least for a while.

product image of West Paw Qwizl Treat Dispensing Dog Puzzle Toy, good for dog's mental stimulation

West Paw Qwizl Treat Dispensing Dog Puzzle Toy

The Qwizl Treat is great for both indoor and outdoor play. Fill it with treats and let your dog solve the puzzle for a reward or toss it for a game of fetch.

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It’s like fast food for dogs. The Tug-A-Jug by PetSafe, which holds up to an entire meal’s worth of kibble, won’t only satisfy your dog’s hunger, but keep them occupied for quite some time, too.

The unique design is a rubber chew toy, rope toy, and food dispenser in one. It features a textured rubber nodule, which cleans teeth, a rope to tug on, and a jug you can fill with kibble or treats. Made in different sizes for breeds big and small, it’s basically a dog’s dream.

Product image of the PetSafe Busy Buddy Tug-A-Jug Meal-Dispensing Dog Toy

PetSafe Busy Buddy Tug-A-Jug Meal-Dispensing Dog Toy

The Tug-A-Jug allows your dog to see, smell and hear treats inside, encouraging them engage with it in a long play session.

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Dogs love this because it’s basically their favorite game: fetch. Available in different sizes, the Tricky Treat Ball by Omega Paw is as simple as it sounds—a familiar ball shape, with tricky-to-find treats. No gimmicks here, simply load it up and watch as your dog pushes it around the house, trying to get their favorite snack out.

Product image of the Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball

Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball

If you’re looking to try out a puzzle toy with your dog, this toy is great and less than $10. The Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball doubles as a chew toy and treat dispenser for double the fun.

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Designed with hues from your dog’s visual color range that activate natural behavior, this delightful puzzle is a fun challenge. Watch your dog flip and slide their way to hidden treats with their tongue, paws, and more—all while sharpening their cognitive skills.

Remember: dogs don’t have opposable thumbs. With a non-slip bottom, this game stays in place as long as it takes.

Product image for the SPOT Seek-a-Treat Flip ‘N Slide

Spot Seek-a-Treat Flip ‘N Slide

This interactive puzzle toy by Spot will get your dog to sniff out their treats and get through the obstacles for ultimate mental stimulation.

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Spin the alternating blue and yellow layers of this toy right ’round to dazzle your pet with a challenge. This game features several chambers to be filled with hidden treats that are only revealed after the dog spins each individual bone-shaped layer.

Increase the game’s difficulty by placing treats under smaller white bone blocks that fit into the compartments.

Product image of the Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Dog Tornado, good for dog's mental stimulation

Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Dog Tornado

This puzzle toy is great for dogs who might want to advance to the next level. With two difficulty options, you can be sure your dog will stay engaged.

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Perhaps one of the most classic puzzle toys, snuffle mats are a fun way to work your dog’s brain while they sniff out treats or kibble in the strands fabric. This popular version gets great reviews and works well for dogs of all sizes and ages. It’s also machine washable for easy clean up. You can also try a DIY version here.

Product Image for PAW5 Wooly Snuffle Mat, good for dog's mental stimulation

Paw5 Wooly Snuffle Mat

Snuffle mats are a great way to engage your dog’s natural foraging skills. This highly-reviewed version is a perfect place to start.

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FurryFido’s ball is a straightforward, no-gimmicks option for dogs who might enjoy fetch, light chewing and getting treats. It comes in three colors and is made of non-toxic, durable rubber to last. While this chew toy is great for play and increasing your pup’s “doggy IQ” it isn’t recommended for tough chewers.

product image of the FurryFido Chew Ball

FurryFido Interactive Treat Dispensing Chew Toy

This interactive toy is two in one: fill it with treats or kibble for mental stimulation or just let them chew on it for fun.

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You might have noticed by now that we’ve featured several toys in the Nina Ottosson collection by Outward Hound. They’re high quality, get great reviews by dog owners and are all around a go-to for puzzle toys. Who says learning can’t be fun? For dogs looking to level up, this tricky puzzle toy will keep them engaged as they search for hidden treats or kibble. With multiple levels, you can adjust to the more advanced option once your dog has successfully mastered it.

product image of the Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Brick Puzzle Game Dog Toy

Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Brick Puzzle Game Dog Toy

This cute and functional puzzle toy is great for dogs needing a little extra mental stimulation to keep them out of trouble.

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Keep ’em guessing! This puzzle toy is more play, less work; so it may be a better fit for dogs easily frustrated by more challenging toys. Kibble is sporadically doled out from three inner chambers via the Treat Meter, producing a pleasant surprise for your dog as they bounce the barnacle around.

Product image of the PetSafe Sportsmen Barnacle Treat Dispenser Dog Toy, good for dog's mental stimulation

PetSafe Sportsmen Barnacle Treat Dispenser Dog Toy

This interactive toy is perfect for dogs who need an easier win. Treats dispense with a little encouragement, making it perfect for pups who are frustrated with more advanced puzzles.

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Dogs have to work to knock their reward loose from this toy which traps treats in its ridges. To make the puzzle even more dynamic for precocious pups, you can interlock the small and large sizes for a bigger challenge. Because of its design, this toy has a larger degree of difficulty than some of the others, especially if you use treats that don’t easily dislodge.

Product image of the West Paw Zogoflex Toppl Interactive Toy, good for dog's mental stimulation

West Paw Zogoflex Toppl Interactive Toy

This easy-to-use puzzle toy by West Paw is great for challenging your dog’s mind while they go after the treats inside. It’s also dishwasher-safe for simple clean up.

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How cute is this? You can stuff six little aliens into this plush spaceship for your inquisitive dog to remove in whatever way they can. To increase the level of intrigue, each alien is equipped with a squeaker.

This toy is like seven toys in one, since you can toss the miniature Martians across the room for your doggie to retrieve.

Not recommended for heavy chewers who will quickly decapitate the adorable aliens. And know that squeaky toys can be fun for your dog but may not always be fun for you.

Product image of the Frisco Hide and Seek Plush Flying Saucer Puzzle Dog Toy

Frisco Hide and Seek Plush Flying Saucer Puzzle Dog Toy

An especially great solution if you’re trying to keep your dog busy without the use of treats or kibble. Hide the martians in the saucer and let them seek.

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This interactive puzzle by OurPets proved to be great for our tester, Shirley the pug. It’s a fun, sushi-themed version of other toys we’ve seen where dogs need to navigate their way through the obstacles to find treats.

“This puzzle toy was great for my senior Pug. The depth of the treat slots is shallow enough that she didn’t have to work overly hard to get the reward, and she quickly picked up on moving the sushi pieces around to reveal more treats. At the end, she checks every treat slot to make sure nothing was missed.”

A pug navigating a sushi-themed puzzle toy

OurPets Sushi Interactive Puzzle (Verified Review)

This fun and straightforward interactive toy is great for your dog’s mental stimulation and perfect for senior dogs who need an easier puzzle.

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Let the experiments begin! Your dog will be challenged to flip the canisters upside down and keep them balanced until the treats fall out. This toy comes with several lids with varying hole sizes for increased or decreased difficulty and is likely best for a dog who’s familiar with puzzle toys due to its exacting nature.

Product image of Trixie Mad Scientist Turn Around Interactive Dog Toy, good for dog's mental stimulation

Trixie Mad Scientist Turn Around Interactive Dog Toy (Verified Review)

A little more challenging and designed for the intermediate canine gamer, this dog puzzle toy has three rotating beakers that can be filled with treats. Each beaker can be covered with two included sets of lids which can be mixed or matched to make it easier or harder.

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We sourced the above review from our article, The Best Dog Puzzle Toys, Reviewed by a Dog.

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We love a food-themed toy, and so do our dogs. The waffle puzzle toy by OurPets was no different when our tester Olive the Boston Terrier tried it out. It’s great for dogs who need a slightly simpler puzzle to solve, who might otherwise be frustrated by something more difficult.

“This is a really cute puzzle, and is good for a dog who is just starting out with enrichment toys. Since the “syrup” top portion doesn’t cover all of the cubes, dogs can quickly learn that they can reach the hidden treats with a press of the nose. Treat slots in the lower portion’s corners make for an additional challenge that my dog hasn’t quite figured out yet.”

A Boston Terrier trying out the waffle puzzle toy, good for dog's mental stimulation

OurPets Waffle Puzzle Toy (Verified Review)

This cute waffle and syrup puzzle toy is great for dogs who need a slightly easier puzzle to solve.

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Further Reading

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