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3 Best Dog Puzzle Toys for the Smartest Pup in 2022

Indy with Puzzle

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If you are a busy dog lover, then there is no better time to invest in one of the three best dog puzzle toys for your best friend. These dog puzzle toys will keep them engaged and entertained while we’re busy with work or house chores or even having guests over, but it also challenges their mental capacity by making them think and learn through problem-solving.

This post will introduce you to the three best dog puzzle toys on the market, perfect for the smartest pup. But first…

Quick quiz!

We all love our doggies to bits but, truth be told, do you have any of these issues? Check as many as you like!

  • Your dog eats too fast out of regular bowls and that’s not healthy
  • You have guests and your dog gets in the way, being so cute and all
  • You’re working from home and need to Zoom with your boss but your dog wants to play
  • You need to look after your newborn baby without Fido’s “help” 
  • You just want your pupper to have some fun and be mentally stimulated while you watch him and enjoy
  • You just want some peace and quiet for a change!

How many did you tick? What? 4 out of 6??!! You’re like me and Indy then. Read on!

If you’re looking to help your dog with separation anxiety, these dog puzzle toys could help in some cases, but I’d recommend you read our other post here, which goes into more detail about this issue.

But if you are looking for a way to keep your pup entertained and challenged, these treat dispensing dog toys are perfect for keeping your doggie mentally stimulated and engaged while you’re busy while also challenging their problem-solving skills.

Not only will they enjoy playing with the toy, but they will also learn new things as they forage and figure out how to get to the treats inside. Win-win!

Nina Ottosson Dog Puzzle Toy by Outward Hound – The Tornado

The Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Dog Treat Puzzle Toy – The Tornado, is probably the perfect dog puzzle toy.

Dogs need to use multiple steps to get to their treats, providing a physical and mental challenge

It’s a level 2 (out of 4) difficulty puzzle, so it’s easy to start with and not too difficult to cause frustration.

Has 12 hidden compartments, so it takes time to uncover all hidden treats.

It takes ½ a cup of kibble, enough to feed a mid-sized dog slowly.

You could also hide other treats in this toy.

Helps those fast-eating dogs enjoy a slower meal and a healthier lifestyle

It’s easy to clean, washing by hand with mild soap and warm water

Comes with full instructions

It’s excellent for all breeds, sizes, & ages

The Tornado is a great dog toy for keeping your pup mentally stimulated and engaged while you’re busy. This puzzle is best for dogs who are at least 6 months old and can handle harder challenges.

With a level 2 difficulty, it’s perfect for most pups. If your dog is older or more experienced with puzzles, you may want to try a harder level 3 or 4 puzzle toy.

This is a plastic dog toy that has 12 compartments hidden inside where you’ll hide kibble or treats and your pupperino will have to figure out how to open these compartments to get to the treats inside.

Some comments on Amazon…

This is the best toy I’ve ever purchased!

It’s great for a clever, high-energy dog like a border collie. It soothes them down when they’re focused on it.

I needed something to engage and challenge my two high-energy rescue dogs. This puzzle was a huge success!

Our Pick
Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Dog Treat Puzzle - The Tornado

The Tornado puzzle toy is a great way to keep your dog's mind active. This toy is designed to provide a physical and mental challenge for your pup. They will need to learn how to combine multiple steps in order to get the hidden treat.

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Nina Ottosson Dog Puzzle Toy by Outward Hound – The Brick

The Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Dog Treat Puzzle Toy – The Brick, is a very close second favorite in this category in our view. It’s got very similar features to our main pick, as it’s…

  • A difficulty 2 (out of 4) puzzle that challenges your pup to get the treats out.
  • Features BPA, PVC & Phthalate-free food-safe materials.
  • Takes 1 cup of kibble, rather than only half, so it works for hungrier or larger doggos. It can also be used with other treats.
  • Comes with full instructions

Pretty much like The Tornado above, this dog toy will…

  • Keep your dog entertained and engaged while you’re busy
  • Provide the dog’s brain with much-needed stimulation and engagement
  • Fight boredom and reduce destructive behavior in your doggerino
  • Suit small, medium, and large dogs
Runner Up
Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Dog Treat Puzzle - The Brick

The Nina Ottosson Dog Brick is a puzzle toy that comes with three compartments to hide treats. There are two compartments that you can open by flipping the lid, and one compartment that you can open by sliding the brick.

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Dog Puzzle Toys for IQ Training and Mental Enrichment

Our third choice here is also a food-safe and non-toxic plastic puzzle option, but it differs from the previous two in that…

  • It’s more suited for small and medium dogs (and even cats!).
  • It only takes 1/4 cup of food, making it less suitable for slow feeding but…
  • Still quite capable of sustaining your puppy’s or older dog’s attention for a while, when you need it most.
For Small and Medium Dogs
Dog Puzzle Toys for IQ Training and Mental Enrichment

This is a fun and engaging toy for dogs and cats. They have to find the hidden kibble or treats by sliding parts. It will help them eat at a slower pace and also stimulate their brain.

Buy on Amazon
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Frequently Asked Questions:

Why do dogs need puzzle toys?

  • To improve cognitive ability. Dog puzzle toys provide the dog’s brain with stimulation and help keep their mind alert.
  • Using challenge game toys helps reduce boredom, prevent pet anxiety, and provide them with great stress relief, reducing their destructive behavior.

How do you introduce your dog to this type of toy?

Introduce your dog to the puzzle toy by simply giving them a kibble or treat if they start investigating the toy.

Then wait and see what she does. You can put goodies in some of the compartments, so it might take her a while to figure out how to open them. She’ll also grow more curious as she begins to understand how the puzzle works.

If your dog isn’t motivated by food, you can try hiding favorite toys inside the compartments.

Just remember to remove the parts and the whole toy once the treats are found to avoid the dog damaging the toy and eating the pieces. 

What’s the best way to use a puzzle toy?

You can use this type of toy in different ways – as a slow feeder during meal times, or as an enrichment tool while you’re away or busy.

If using it as a slow feeder, fill the toy with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of food. If using it as an enrichment tool, put only a small amount of food in the toy at a time, and then just watch how your dog pushes the compartment doors or lids to get to the treats inside. You can also rotate different toys so your dog doesn’t get bored.

How do I know if my dog is bored?

If your dog is exhibiting signs of boredom, such as destructive behavior, excessive barking or whining, or a lack of interest in playing or interacting with you, they may be bored. Most dog puzzle toys can help to fight boredom and provide mental stimulation.

What do the difficulty levels in some of these dog puzzle toys mean?

  • A Difficulty Level 1 dog puzzle toy usually works like a treat holder. They are super easy and it might take a short bit of time for your pupper to learn how to work it. They’re a good introduction to this type of dog toy but I would start with a level 2 at least.
  • Difficulty Level 2 dog puzzle toys are somewhat more difficult than level 1. They normally require moving parts to uncover the treats underneath.
  • Difficulty Level 3 puzzles contain sliding doors. It is a great way to stimulate you dog’s intelligence. These puzzles are also great ways of dealing with a bored dog. These puzzles won’t be good for a fast-eating dog as they can get frustrated and end up chewing or flipping the puzzles to grab their treats.

Are these toys safe?

Yes, all of the dog puzzle toys mentioned in this article are safe for your pup to play with. They are food safe and non-toxic

Are these toys easy to clean?

Yes, all of the dog toys in this article are easy to clean. Simply hand wash them with warm water and mild soap. Allow them to air dry completely before using again. Do not put the toy in the dishwasher.

Won’t these puzzle toys move all over the place when my dog plays with them?

These dog puzzle toys come with non-slip rubber feet to stop this from happening, but if they don’t or they’re not strong enough, simply stick a bit of blue tack or sticky putty underneath and you’ll find the dog puzzle will stay in place.

What about the Kong Classic Dog toy?

The Kong Classic Dog Toy is a best-selling, durable rubber toy that can be used as a treat dispenser, chew toy, and fetch toy, but I wouldn’t consider it a dog puzzle toy. This is made with a thick rubber that makes it tough enough to withstand chewing, and the hollow center can be filled with treats or peanut butter. The Kong also floats in water and is dishwasher safe. It will help keep your pup entertained but there’s not as much mental stimulation behind it.

When dog puzzle toys won’t cut it

  • Dogs need socializing with other dogs and humans
  • Dogs need exercise
  • Dog separation anxiety (Link article)

Last words

So, whether you’re looking for a food-safe dog puzzle feeder to slow your pupperino down at meals, or a dog treat puzzle toy that will provide them with mental stimulation and keep them engaged while you’re busy, we highly recommend any of these three best dog puzzle toys – The Tornado, The Brick or The Dog IQ Training Toys. There’s never a dull moment with these dog puzzles. Whichever one you choose, your doggie is sure to love it! And you will too!

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About the Author

Alex 

I’m Alex and I’ve always wanted the best for my pupper Indy, so she could have a healthy and happy life. I’m pretty sure this also applies to you and your doggie, otherwise you wouldn’t have made it to the end of this post.

I started Pampered Puppers as a family-owned business, based in Australia, to help all dog lovers around the world achieve this easily. So that’s our mission, to help improve your dog’s safety and quality of life with entertaining and helpful articles via our blog 🐶

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