Most dog owners understand the importance of physical exercise, but did you know mental stimulation is also crucial for raising a healthy pooch? Puzzles make up some of the best dog toys for smart dogs, but finding the ones that are actually worth your (and your dog’s) time isn’t always easy.
Instead of going through countless puzzle toys in the search for one your dog actually enjoys, we’ve compiled reviews of the top puzzle toys of this year. With eight popular puzzle toys to choose from, you’re sure to find one that’s a perfect fit for your best friend.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
The 8 Best Dog Toys for Smart Dogs
1. Outward Hound Puzzle Brick Dog Toy – Best Overall
The Outward Hound Ottosson Puzzle Brick Dog Toy combines the allure of mealtime with a mind-working puzzle. This puzzle toy features three different ways to work your dog’s brain, including lifting, sliding, and opening different compartments to access their favorite treats. You can also fill this toy with kibble, to turn breakfast, lunch, or dinner into a fun problem-solving experience.
This puzzle toy is made from easy-to-clean plastic and is categorized as a level 2 challenge, so it’s great for dogs that whizz through easier challenges. The puzzle is an excellent choice on rainy days or just when your four-legged friend needs something to keep them occupied.
This dog toy features several small removable parts, so it should only be used with constant supervision. Also, the parts are far from chew-proof.
2. PLAYAY IQ Treat Toy Ball – Best Value
The PLAYAY IQ Treat Toy Ball offers a unique puzzle experience for dogs who love to chase, fetch, and chow down on treats. As one of the best toys for smart dogs for the money, this toy can be used with or without the puzzle component for hours of fun. Each ball is made from soft, non-toxic plastic and features plenty of openings to tuck in your pup’s favorite treats or kibble.
This puzzle treat ball is the perfect size for small and medium breeds. While larger breeds can play with this toy, they should only do so under constant supervision. Unfortunately, the soft plastic construction means this toy won’t stand up to moderate or heavy chewers.
3. SNiFFiz Snuffle Puzzle Toy Mat – Premium Choice
The SNIFFiz SmellyMatty Snuffle Puzzle Toy Mat might not look like your typical puzzle, but it’s one of the most stimulating brain games you can put in front of your dog. Not only does the mat offer plenty of hiding places for your pup’s favorite snacks, but it makes them rely on one of their strongest senses: their sense of smell.
If your dog isn’t interested in nosework, then this snuffle mat probably isn’t the best puzzle out there. Also, many dogs find the soft fabric perfect for shredding.
4. Tarvos Dog Food Puzzle Toy
Many dogs eat too fast when offered food in a regular bowl. The Tarvos Dog Food Puzzle Toy combines a slow feeder with an interactive puzzle element for healthier mealtimes and mental stimulation. The feeder includes a traditional slow-feeding bowl on the bottom and an elevated wheel that your pup can turn to dispense kibble or high-value treats.
Each puzzle is constructed with durable, non-toxic, and eco-friendly plastic. The non-slip bottom also means this toy won’t slip and slide while your dog eats. However, the smaller size generally makes this feeder a no-go for anything but toy and small breeds.
Related Read: 11 Ways to Give Your Dog More Mental Stimulation
5. TRIXIE Pet Products Trixie Activity
The TRIXIE Pet Products 4591 Trixie Activity is another excellent product that combines a slow feeder with a puzzle toy. Each toy comes with a stand, three beakers, and two different sets of beaker lids. Your pooch can retrieve treats or kibble from the slow-feeding base or by tipping over the uncovered beakers. You can also add lids to the beakers for an added challenge.
Depending on the size of your dog’s treats or kibble pieces, they may get stuck in the holes. Also, this puzzle toy is quite top-heavy and prone to tipping over. Although this puzzle is great for toy and small breeds — and cats, too! — it won’t work with medium or large dog breeds.
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6. LC-dolida Smart Dog Puzzle Toy
The LC-dolida Smart Dog Puzzle Toy is a great choice if your small dog or puppy is just learning how to solve puzzles. This brightly colored puzzle dog toy features several sliding puzzles that are perfect for hiding kibble or high-value treats beneath. If your pup tends to gobble their food, then this toy can also easily double as a slow feeder.
This puzzle is made from durable, non-toxic, and eco-friendly PVC material, which is extremely easy to clean with normal soap and water. However, the lightweight design means this puzzle isn’t a great fit for dogs who are rough with their toys. This toy’s biggest drawbacks are its small size and the inability to ramp up the difficulty over time.
7. Nina Ottosson Dog Smart Puzzle Toy
The Nina Ottosson 67331 Dog Smart Beginner Puzzle Toy is a unique take on the popular sliding toys on the market. Instead of sliding individual pieces to access the hidden reward, your dog must pick up or flip pieces out of the toy to get to the treats. This puzzle toy can be adjusted to provide the perfect challenge level for your dog over time.
This level 1 puzzle is great for young dogs and those who have never solved puzzle toys before but is too easy for more advanced problem-solvers. However, it can also double as a slow feeder for improved digestion.
8. SPOT Seek-a-Treat Flip ‘N Slide Dog Toy
If your dog desires constant stimulation, then the SPOT 5779 Seek-a-Treat Flip ‘N Slide Dog Toy is a nice alternative to more popular puzzles. While this puzzle toy looks like most others at first glance, its unique compatibility with other Connector Puzzles means you can customize the problem-solving experience to your dog’s exact needs. Each puzzle is made of easy-to-clean, durable plastic and features a variety of sliding and flipping puzzles.
Unfortunately, the extremely small design of this puzzle toy means it’s only suitable for very small dog breeds. Also, smarter dogs will likely become bored with this toy after just a few sessions. While this makes a great starter puzzle for younger dogs, the challenge won’t last long.
Out of the many puzzle toys reviewed here, our top choice is the Outward Hound 67333 Ottosson Puzzle Brick Dog Toy. This classic puzzle toy offers several elements to keep your pooch busy and work their problem-solving abilities.
If you’re looking for the best puzzle dog toy for the money, then the PLAYAY IQ Treat Toy Ball wins our vote. This puzzle toy offers the most versatility for the price since your dog will have just as much fun playing with it, whether it’s filled with treats or not.
Whichever puzzle you choose for your own four-legged companion, there’s no shortage of new and exciting puzzles hitting the market for your dog to solve. While we hope our reviews have helped you choose the perfect puzzle for your pup, don’t forget to keep their brain stimulated by investing in fresh puzzles from time to time.
Does your dog love to solve challenging puzzles? Or do they tend to get bored if they can’t figure something out? Let us know in the comments below!