The idea of puzzle toys for dogs is somewhat of a new phenomenon. Doing much more than just keeping a dog occupied as they might become bored throughout the day, puzzle toys for dogs also help our dogs who may have some issues when owners leave for long days at the office.

Even counting as exercise, as some toys encourage dogs to move certain parts with their paws or noses, puzzle toys for dogs are a great short substitute for human interaction.

Border collie puppy enjoying KONG treats

The science behind puzzle toys

Sara Richter, a Certified Dog Behavior consultant, believes that these types of toys can especially assist in the boredom of dogs, which is what can lead to some really destructive behavior around the house. Puzzle toys provide dogs with physical and mental stimulation.

It is not necessarily that dogs want to ruin our items around the home, but it is that they are bored and are trying to exhaust all the energy that they have inside of them. Puzzle toys themselves offer exercise that is comparable to the physicality of a walk and the mental stimulation of the many complexities that they may experience throughout the day.

The benefits of puzzle toys for dogs

Puzzle toys help dogs with boredom and redirect their minds to the toys, which keep them busy for hours until they're tired and want to rest. While puzzle toys should definitely not be a substitute for actual physical exercise, they provide the mental stimulation that our dogs may not get from just being in our company or resting quietly next to us. While we might consider our dogs to be great companions, like us, they also require mental stimulation, and exercising their brains is a wonderful way to keep them sharp.

3 good puzzle toy options

Due to the fluctuations in the market and the many companies wanting to jump on the idea of a quick sale, there are many types of puzzle toys for dogs that are currently on the market. Several of these toys include the following:

Trixie Mad Scientist

Three tasty treats are contained in the beakers. To get the treats, the dog has to not only turn the beakers upside down, but also keep them balanced there. Removing the tops makes this puzzle more suitable as a first puzzle for your dog.

The Kong

The Kong a classic puzzle toy that is also very popular with other animals because it rewards searching and finding techniques. The owner will fill the stuffed animal with treats and small bites, and the dog is then left with the responsibility of having to find those treats inside the stuffing. The Kong stuffed animal is durable, and it encourages the long duration of searching and finding with a nice reward in the end.

Brindle Staffordshire Bull Terrier running through fields with Kong chew in his mouth

West Paw's Qwizl

This toy makes it so that dogs are able to chew, but there is an obstacle in the way, preventing them from actually getting the treat until they put in enough work. The dogs can chomp down hard on the bouncy exterior, which is soothing to them as they can rest their teeth on the comforting bouncy layers.

Safety precautions

As we know, safety is vital when it comes to our dogs, and we would not want them to ingest something that is large, should not be eaten, and perhaps they could not pass. Toys must be inspected before being given to our furry friends, lest they become overexcited and swallow parts they shouldn't.

There has also been some concern in the past that forcing dogs to work for food and treats may build some unkind feelings towards us as owners in the form of aggression. However, our dogs will indeed appreciate such a mental challenge where they need to work for something hard enough before they can be rewarded for their efforts.

An additional safety precaution involved is that some toys may make dogs nervous, and it is important to try things out on your dogs, but not to force them if some toys are a hit and others are more of a dud.

Some toys can be loud, or they may just make our dogs think they are odd or unapproachable. If this turns out to be the unfortunate case, you must allow the dogs to embrace the toy themselves, rather than have it be forced on them as some sort of punishment.

Very similar to people, dogs will also have preferences as to which toys they prefer and which toys they will want to play with. It is important not to break them mentally by forcing them to enjoy something that they are approaching with caution and distance. Forcing toys on our dogs may encourage anxiety about the toy itself, and they might associate the gift as more of a punishment than anything else.