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10 Best Dog Toys for Mental Stimulation – 2023 Reviews & Top Picks 

Ed Malaker

By Ed Malaker

A dog toy

Choosing a dog toy that will entertain and challenge your pet can be difficult. The pet industry is vast, and new products come out each day. There are so many brands it’s unlikely you can even look at all the various models available.

We review new pet toys every few weeks and believe we can help narrow down your search by choosing and reviewing ten different brands of dog toys for mental stimulation.

We have also included a dog toys for mental stimulation buyer’s guide where we will take an in-depth look at what’s necessary for a dog toy for mental stimulation to have.

Below you will find our reviews of dog toys for mental stimulation, where we compare durability, puzzle difficulty, cleanup, and enjoyment, to help you make a smart choice. Let’s have a look at the 10 models of mentally stimulating dog toys we have chosen to review for you.

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A Quick Look at of our Favorites in 2023

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Tornado Puzzle Game Dog Toy Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Tornado Puzzle Game Dog Toy
  • Four layers of rotating discs
  • Level 2 difficulty
  • Provides positive reinforcement
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Frisco Volcano & Dinosaurs Hide & Seek Puzzle Plush Squeaky Dog Toy Frisco Volcano & Dinosaurs Hide & Seek Puzzle Plush Squeaky Dog Toy
  • Six squeaky dinosaurs
  • Durable
  • Soft texture
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Hunger for Words Talking Pet Essential Words Dog Toy Hunger for Words Talking Pet Essential Words Dog Toy
  • Teaches your pet several words
  • Easy-to-follow guide
  • Durable
  • Outward Hound Puzzle Cube Interactive Squeaky Dog Toy Outward Hound Puzzle Cube Interactive Squeaky Dog Toy
  • Two removable squeaker balls
  • Multiple ways to play
  • Easy to clean
  • Brightkins Surprise Party! Puzzle Treat Dog Toy Brightkins Surprise Party! Puzzle Treat Dog Toy
  • Four boxes that open in different ways
  • Easy to clean
  • BPA-free plastic
  • The 10 Best Dog Toys For Mental Stimulation Reviewed

    1. Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Tornado Puzzle Game Dog Toy — Best Overall

    Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Brick Puzzle Game Dog Toy

    The Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Tornado Puzzle Game Dog Toys is the best overall dog toy for mental stimulation. It has four layers of discs that your pet will need to rotate to find the treats hidden inside. Doing so provides instant positive reinforcement and will encourage them to continue. This puzzle is a level 2 difficulty out of 5, so it will provide enough mental stimulation without being too difficult for most pets to figure out. It’s also sturdy and durable.

    Unfortunately, no toy is perfect. The problem with this puzzle is that some dogs can solve it quickly, so it might not provide all the mental stimulation that you are looking for, and some dogs might chew the little bones that help hide the treats.

    Pros
    • Four layers of rotating discs
    • Level 2 difficulty
    • Provides positive reinforcement
    • Durable
    Cons
    • Dogs might chew the bones
    • Some dogs can solve it easily


    2. Frisco Volcano & Dinosaurs Hide & Seek Puzzle Plush Squeaky Dog Toy — Best Value

    Frisco Volcano & Dinosaurs Hide

    The Frisco Volcano & Dinosaurs Hide & Seek Puzzle Plush Squeaky Dog Toy is the best dog toy for mental stimulation for the money. It has a soft, plush volcano with six removable, soft, squeaky dinosaurs. This toy is perfect for games of hide and seek, and your pet will get plenty of mental stimulation as they search for them. The toy is attractive and available in several colors and is surprisingly durable while remaining low cost.

    The downside to the Frisco Volcano is that the small dinosaurs won’t last long even though they are well-designed, especially if you have a large dog, so you will need to replace them every few months.

    Pros
    • Six squeaky dinosaurs
    • Durable
    • Soft texture
    Cons
    • Dinos don’t last long


    3. Hunger for Words Talking Pet Essential Words Dog Toy — Premium Choice

    Hunger for Words Talking Pet Essential Words Dog Toy

    Hunger for Words Talking Pet Essential Words Dog Toy is the premium choice dog toy for mental stimulation. It teaches your dog up to six words—“outside,” “play,” “eat,” “love you,” “walk,” and “water”—that they can “say” by pressing the respective button that emits a prerecorded message. Each button has a unique image on it so the dog knows what to push, and they are extremely durable and suitable for even large dogs. The easy-to-follow guide makes it easy to train your dog how to use them, and there are also other sets for when your dog is ready to move on and learn new words.

    The downside to the Hunger For Words toy is that despite its high cost, many users report poor sound quality from the buttons. Each button also requires two AAA batteries, and the screw to access them is tiny and difficult to remove.

    Pros
    • Teaches your pet several words
    • Easy-to-follow guide
    • Durable
    Cons
    • Poor sound quality
    • Battery screws


    4. Outward Hound Puzzle Cube Interactive Squeaky Dog Toy

    Outward Hound Puzzle Cube Interactive Squeaky Dog Toy

    The Outward Hound Puzzle Cube Interactive Squeaky Dog Toy is a versatile toy that you can use to stimulate your pet’s mind by challenging them to get the ball out of the holder. Once they are successful, you can turn it into a game of fetch to help them burn off calories or keep the mental stimulation going with a game of hide and seek. Each part of the toy is brightly colored, and the balls squeak when you squeeze them. The durable material is easy to clean, and the cube holds all the balls, so it’s easy to store away between sessions.

    The Outward Hound Puzzle Cube is a fun toy, but many users report that you need to supervise your pet carefully while they play, or they can quickly chew up the cage. Many users also complain that the toy is too easy for their dogs to solve.

    Pros
    • Two removable squeaker balls
    • Multiple ways to play
    • Easy to clean
    • Durable
    Cons
    • Some dogs will chew it
    • Some dogs can solve it easily


    5. Brightkins Surprise Party! Puzzle Treat Dog Toy

    Brightkins Surprise Party! Puzzle Treat Dog Toy

    The Brightkins Surprise Party! Puzzle Treat Dog Toy has four boxes that your dog will need to open in different ways, so they can work through multiple levels of mental stimulation at their own pace. The dog can also work with the puzzle while the blocks are attached to the base, or you can take off the blocks and hide them for even more fun. Each box uses BPA-free plastic and is non-toxic and easy to clean.

    The only downside to this colorful toy is that many users complain that their pets chew up the blocks fairly quickly.

    Pros
    • Four boxes that open in different ways
    • Easy to clean
    • BPA-free plastic

    6. West Paw Tux Interactive Dog Chew Toy

    West Paw Design

    The West Paw 566 Zogoflex Tux Interactive Dog Chew Toy is an extremely tough and durable dog toy. It’s designed to stand up to the toughest chewers and uses safe, non-toxic, BPA free rubber. It floats, so it makes a perfect fetch toy for playing around water. It’s also dishwasher safe, so it’s easy to clean after you’ve stuffed it with treats.

    We found the West Paw is a great fetch toy, it’s easy to throw and goes a reasonable distance. It lacks in the interactive treat stuffing department, though. There’s not any room in the toy to tuff treats, and anything that does fit falls out way too quickly. There’s no puzzle for the dog to solve or anything to keep your pet interested if it isn’t just chewing it or bringing it back after you’ve thrown it.

    Pros
    • Floats
    • BPA free
    • Dishwasher safe
    • Durable
    Cons
    • Shallow treat compartment
    • Not very challenging

    7. Outward Hound Puzzle Brick Dog Toy

    Outward Hound Ottosson Puzzle Brick Dog Toy

    The Outward Hound 67333 Puzzle Brick Dog Toy is a toy designed to entertain your dog while also training it. This puzzle features red boxes your dog must open as well as white bones they must remove, the red boxes also slide to reveal hidden treats below. These work together to provide a challenging puzzle for your pet to solve. There are 20 treat compartments to hide treats in, so the puzzles are different every time with nearly endless combinations possible. It’s a lightweight toy that wipes clean when you’re finished using it.

    The downside is that you need to supervise your dog at all times. It features small pieces. The white bones are removed from the game by your pet to get at the treats below. These pieces don’t fit in very well and can be hard for your dog to grab. These bones can also be lost or chewed up. Some dogs may overturn the lightweight gameboard to get at the treats spoiling the challenge.

    Pros
    • Challenging
    • Wipes clean
    • Different every time
    • 20 treat compartments
    Cons
    • Bones are hard to grab
    • Must use supervision

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    8. StarMark Bob-A-Lot Interactive Dog Toy

    StarMark Bob-A-Lot

    The StarMark SMBAL Bob-A-Lot Interactive Dog Toy features an extra-large food compartment and can hold up to 3 cups of food or treats. This large compartment allows you to use it as a dinner dispenser that will stimulate the mind of your pet and slow down their eating. This toy is an excellent solution for pets with a fast eating disorder. Adjustable openings help regulate the flow of food, and it has a durable plastic housing. A weighted anti-slip bottom causes the toy to wobble unpredictably, providing plenty of fun for your pet and entertainment for you.

    While we reviewed this toy, we noticed that even though it holds a lot of food, it’s not a great toy for big dogs, and they tend to carry it instead of playing. Filling this toy with food is a slow and tedious project. You need to feed the food through a tiny opening only large enough for a few pieces of food, and we found it can take over five minutes to fill. Cleaning is not much easier because you can’t get into the food compartment to wipe it down. The housing is durable, but if your dog is a chewer, this toy may not last long.

    Pros
    • Holds up to 3 cups of food
    • Adjustable openings regulate the flow of food
    • Weighted anti-slip bottom
    Cons
    • Not for big dogs
    • Not for chewing dogs
    • Hard to fill
    • Hard to Clean

    9. SPOT Flip ‘N Slide Treat Dispenser Toy

    SPOT Seek-a-Treat

    The SPOT 5779 Seek-a-Treat Flip ‘N Slide Treat Dispenser Toy is a fun treat dispenser for your pet. It features a very durable design that can withstand abuse from even larger sized dogs. It has multiple compartments to hide treats in and features two kinds of puzzles, pieces that slide and pieces that lift.

    Our pets enjoyed this toy, but they did not find it challenging. Three of our dogs could get at the treats with no introduction beforehand. You also need to watch the rubber feet if your pet likes to push the game board because they will fall off, and your pet might mistake it for a treat.

    Pros
    • Durable
    • Multiple compartments
    • Two kinds of puzzles
    Cons
    • Rubber feet come off
    • Not very challenging

    10. Corspet Hachi Dog Toy Treat Dispenser

    Corspet Hachi Dog Toy

    The Corspet Hachi Dog Toy Treat Dispenser is the final toy for mental stimulation on our list. Though this model isn’t as good as the first three dog toys, there may still be a few things about this toy that interests you. The Hachi sog toy features a unique design that incorporates moving rubber discs or gears into the toy. These disks have rubber spikes and nodules on them designed to hold the treats in place and gently clean your pet’s teeth and massage their gums while they chew to remove them.

    The downside to this toy is that it’s only for tiny dogs and puppies. Any dog that loves to chew or weighs over 20 pounds will quickly destroy this toy. If they do chew it apart, there are some mall parts inside that your pet might swallow. It also doesn’t hold the treats very well, and most of ours fell out as we were still filling it.

    Pros
    • Cleans teeth
    • Massages gums
    Cons
    • Only for small dogs
    • Falls apart
    • Won’t hold treats
    • Contains small pieces

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    Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Dog Toys for Mental Stimulation

    Let’s consider what’s important when purchasing a dog toy for mental stimulation.

    Stimulation

    To understand these toys a little better, we should go over what a dog toy for mental stimulation is. Many people might consider mental stimulation toys to be puzzle toys, and while many of them are, they are not exclusively puzzles. Some stimulation toys are designed to entertain bored dogs or to cheer up depressed dogs. These toys can also help with weight loss by slowing down their eating pace. Sometimes it’s not about educating them as much as it is about getting them to do something else.

    The many reasons to mentally stimulate a pet is why some brands might offer a puzzle while another brand might offer a squeaky toy.

    Sharpen the Mind

    If your goal is to sharpen the mind of your dog and increase your pet’s intelligence, then puzzles are the best way to go. In many cases, there are three levels of puzzle difficulty.

    Level One Puzzles

    Level One puzzles are the easiest for your pet to solve and often only have one challenge. Rolling a ball to dispense treats is an excellent example of a Level One puzzle

    Level Two Puzzles

    Level Two puzzles are a little more complicated and usually require picking up cups, pressing levers, and sliding doors.

    Level 3 Puzzles

    Level 3 puzzles are the most difficult for your pet to master and usually require your pet to complete two distinct steps to unlock a reward.

    Dog with toy
    Image credit: susanne906, Pixabay

    Feeding Control

    Puzzles can be a great way to slow down your pet’s eating habits. Many dogs can eat too quickly, and this causes them to swallow air along with the food, which can lead to discomfort.

    Durability

    The durability of your dog toy is a critical issue. Dogs like to chew, and they can rip apart many toys in seconds. If your dog is a chewer, we recommend that you always check to see if any toys you might purchase up to the task. Many brands will say in the description if it is for a heavy chewer, and many brands make toys especially for them.

    Cleanup

    Cleanup is naturally going to be a significant concern, and many brands will take steps to simplify the process. We recommend looking for brands that are dishwasher safe and don’t have a lot of closed-off compartments that make it hard to clean or remove water.

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    Conclusion

    When you’re choosing your next dog toy for mental stimulation among these reviews, we highly recommend our pick for the best overall, as the Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Tornado Puzzle Game has four levels of rotating disks that will challenge your pet to find the treat and then reward them when they succeed. The Frisco Volcano & Dinosaurs Hide & Seek Puzzle Plush Squeaky Dog Toy is a great choice for someone looking for a bargain, and it comes with six squeaky dinosaurs that your dog will love hunting for. The Hunger for Words Talking Pet Essential Words Dog Toy is expensive but can help teach your dog how to communicate with you, and you can even expand it to teach your dog even more words.

    We hope that one of these toys will help you have fun with your dog while keeping their mind active!

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