Dogs have high energy, and they always want to do something, even if they’re at home. This article will help you to find toys for dogs designed to keep them mentally stimulated.

Benefits of Puzzle Toys for Dogs

Why do most dog owners prefer to keep their pups occupied with puzzle toys over self-amusement or chewy treat toys?

  • Engages Your Dog Longer. Dog puzzles can help keep your pup occupied longer than conventional dog toys. A hyperactive dog doesn’t just want to be rewarded with a treat; it also wants to earn and work for it! For most dogs, the promise of getting compensated with a treat is enough to keep them occupied for an extended period.
  • Releases Happy Hormones. When dogs sniff for food, a chemical called dopamine is released into their brain. Puzzle toys that engage their sense of smell tend to make dogs happier and more relaxed. These toys challenge your dog to use their sense of smell to solve a puzzle with the hope of a tasty reward.
  • Keep Destructive Behaviour in Check. Keeping a dog engaged in a captivating puzzle means that it has less time to wreak havoc in your home. You can occupy your dog and stop it from chewing your furniture, making a mess of your living room, or drooling when you keep it engaged with a dog puzzle toy.
  • Fights Boredom and Inactivity. Just like people, dogs need both physical and mental stimulation to live their best lives. Puzzle toys ensure that they can get both physical and mental stimulation, especially during those long hours when you’re away at work or school.
  • Provide Mental Stimulation: Like humans, dogs can get depressed when they aren’t stimulated mentally or get enough activities that force them to think.
  • Exhaust Pent Up Energy. Frequent exercise is the number one way to help your pup release all those pent-up physical energies (a doggy treadmill does a great job). Regardless, a more adventurous, energetic, and enthusiastic dog can be challenging to keep at bay.

Whether you’re looking to make your dog sharper, stimulate them mentally or help them fight boredom by keeping them physically engaged, dog puzzle toys are an effective solution.

Puzzle Rewards - Don’t Overfeed Scooby!

Most dog puzzles challenge your dog to solve a puzzle with the anticipated reward of a treat. This is indeed a good motivation strategy, especially for canines who have great appetites.

While food can be a great motivator and can make it easier to get your dog’s attention, there is the danger of overfeeding your pup. There is a risk of your puppy being overweight if it eats too many treats.

Puzzle Time Can Replace Dinner Time! An intelligent way to resolve this problem is to schedule puzzle time to coincide with dinner time. So, put your dog’s regular portion of dinner in the toy and make it earn its meal. This is also going to help restrict dogs’ appetite that either eats too much or too quickly. Keep in mind that your puzzle toy can act both as a feeder and play buddy.

When Dog Puzzles Aren’t the Answer

Dog puzzles can help you channel your canine’s hyperactive energy into a more beneficial and stimulating activity. Regardless, you may want to desist from using this as a one size fits all approach for all your dog’s needs.

When considering introducing dog toys into the mix, remember to factor in the following points:

  • Cannot Replace Socializing. While puzzle toys can help keep your canine engaged, they cannot replace socializing. By nature, dogs are social animals, and they still need regular human contact and care to remain happy and fulfilled.
  • Exercise is Still Important. Puzzle toys can’t replace regular exercise; instead, they can help complement it. Some dogs enjoy and need all the running and jumping they can afford to function well, and no amount of puzzle or trick game can change that fact.
  • Not an Easy Fix for Separation Anxiety. Dogs that are occasionally left alone may enjoy the company and mental stimulation of dog puzzles. However, dogs that suffer from acute separation anxiety will struggle to interact with most toys. Separation anxiety is a serious issue, and owners should attempt to address it by spending more time with their dogs. Owners may also explore professional help or a trusted DIY approach.
  • Aggression vs. Frustration. Another critical factor is to discern pup frustration (caused by too much energy) from general aggression. Puzzles won’t fix a dog that has underlying aggression or social problems. That will usually require the help of an expert. While we have many resources to help you train an aggressive dog, you are often better off with the assistance of a professional.

Aim to recruit a professional with a valid Certification for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) or the International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants (IAABC), both of which are credible and reputable U.S organizations.

Best Toys

When you’re trying any of the following toys for the first time, make sure you’re around and able to supervise your dog.

Classic Kong

It’s a great first puzzle toy; it will help dogs start using their brains and solve some fundamental problems to get their food.

Nina Ottosson Puzzle Toys

Toys from Nina Ottoson provide different kinds of mental challenges for dogs, with various difficulties.