Whether your dog is a canine Einstein or a bit of a slacker, he needs physical and mental stimulation. After all, most dogs were bred for specific jobs, like hunting, retrieving, guarding the home, or carting heavy loads. Many dogs today are tasked with nothing more challenging than taking a walk, pointing at the treat jar, or taking the best space on the sofa. And bored dogs can sometimes become destructive dogs.

You can energize, entertain, and stimulate your dog by offering interactive dog toys such as puzzles. Puzzles often have treats inside, and your dog’s challenge is to figure out how to get to the treat. A puzzle also requires him to remember how it works and what skills he needs to “win.” For your dog, solving a puzzle in order to get a reward puts him to work and engages his mind. And an engaged, busy dog is a happy dog.

Puzzle toys come in different levels of difficulty, different sizes, shapes, and prices. See if your dog is up to the challenge!
Outward Hound Cross Slider with Treat Ball

Drop a treat in the ball, put the ball in the toy, and watch your dog figure out how to move the ball through tunnels to free the ball and then his treat. The toy slides on carpets and hard floors and has adjustable difficulty settings in case your dog really is a canine genus.

TRIXIE Dog Activity Flip Board

There are treats in there somewhere, and your dog must figure out how to open the compartments by lifting flaps and sliding covers. There’s so much variety that this dog puzzle should entertain even the cleverest dog.
Outward Hound Star Spinner Puzzle

Fill the chambers with treats and watch your dog nuzzle and paw to get his reward. You can even make it harder or easier, depending on how clever your dog is. All he has to do is spin to win!
Rocking Treat Dispenser Dog Toy

rocking toy

This rocking treat dispenser dog toy is designed to stay upright, so treats don’t just fall out, and your dog will have to work for rewards. The rocking sound helps keep him entertained during his quest.
Nina Ottosson Dog Tornado

Nina Ottosson is renowned for her ingenious interactive dog toys, like the Dog Tornado. It has various spinning levels and 12 treat chambers, guaranteeing your dog will have to use some brainpower to get a reward. You can make it even more challenging by adding the blockers.
Nina Ottosson’s Interactive Dog Toy

Another really clever puzzle from Nina Ottosson! Your dog has to move the sliders to figure out which ones hide the treats. You can start him off easy and make the puzzle more challenging as he figures it out.

Lifeunion Pet Treat Seeker

With several different ways to retrieve treats, this dog puzzle should keep your pup happily entertained. It’s especially designed for small and medium-size dogs.
Where’s the Ball?

shell game

Sharpen your dog’s scenting instinct and his mind as he learns to figure out where the ball is. As an added bonus, you can teach your dog five simple tricks while you’re at it.
ZippyPaws X-Large Burrow Log and Chipmunks Squeaky Toy

Treats aren’t the only thing that can get your dog going. Some dogs can entertain themselves for hours with squeaky toys. This interactive toy adds a challenge because your dog has to dig out the squeaky chipmunks from the log. Great for large dogs.

Wooly Snuffle Mat

This is a completely different type of puzzle toy—one that encourages your dog to use his innate sense of smell and foraging abilities. He’ll have to “hunt” for food just like he would in nature. As a bonus, it’s made of upcycled materials and is machine washable.

Your dog will be stimulated and challenged by puzzle toys as they offer solo playtime and a chance for bonding between you and your canine friend. You get the chance to teach him how the puzzle works and play along by adding treats or changing the difficulty level. And of course, we all know how entertaining it is to watch a happy dog at play!

Another way to engage your dog is with tricks – check out how the Leonburger below gets her trick on!

Post Credit: Jan Reisen / Akc.org