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10 Best Challenging Dog Toys w/ Buying Guide

Breeding Business is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Published on
Friday 15 November 2019
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
best challenging dog toys
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We have prepared a list of 10 best challenging dog toys to keep them busy as we know how fussy our beloved pups can get. Dogs are just like little children, always running around looking for fun. Often times, this leads to unfavorable behavior. If you have a dog, you must be familiar with the frustration after our little pups ruin the new couch or tablecloth. But fret not, as we have just the right solution for you.

Mentally challenging toys for dogs that hide treats are also beneficial in regulating how your dog eats. All dog owners know how fussy dogs can get when being fed. But toys like chew puzzle, puzzle bowls, snuffle mats, etc slow down how much your dogs eat considerably. This improves your dog’s digestion and keeps them fit.

What Are Challenging Dog Toys?

Challenging toys for dogs vary greatly in shape size and form but have a very similar purpose. They grab your dog’s attention and keep it busy with something positive. They stimulate mental activity, enhance your dog’s IQ, prevent destructive behavior, reduce boredom and some keep your dog physically active. The stimulative toys for dogs come in various forms, such as:

  • Electronic interactive toys
  • Chew puzzle toys
  • Maze-shaped food bowls
  • Snuffle mats
  • Interactive dog puzzles

Not every toy will work for your dog. You need to consider your dog’s temperament, intelligence, energy level, and interest while choosing the right toy. Your dog may not enjoy a puzzle treat hider if it’s too aggressive. In such cases, these interactive puzzles are of little use.

Even if your dog is not too aggressive, you might need to think of the right puzzle toy. Some companies manufacture dog puzzles with progressively increasing difficulty. You need to choose the right toy depending on how smart your pet is, a toy too easy or too complex will not be able to entertain your dog for long.

Although most interactive toys are built with canines in mind and are pretty durable, be mindful of the toys you leave with your dog when you’re leaving for work. For instance, some feeding toys are not intended for playing 24/7 and snuffle mats are durable but will be torn if your dog is too aggressive with it.

But don’t let all these factors confuse you, as we have curated a list of the best interactive playthings for your pooch available right now.

How To Choose The Right Challenging Dog Toys

Let us now discuss some other factors that you should consider before you buy an interactive toy so your pup can have a good time.

Understand your dog’s jaw capability

Every dog toy has to withstand your dog’s strong bite. Jaw strength between small breeds, i.e. pugs, and larger breeds, i.e. golden retrievers, varies greatly. Manufacturers make interactive toys with their target breed’s size in mind. A large dog will most certainly chew up a small wobble feeder intended for a small breed.

But choosing the right toy for your dog’s size isn’t that complicated. A general rule is that small delicate chewable toys are more suitable for small breeds. While toys with bigger size and more robust build, i.e. chew resistant fabric and stitching, can withstand larger breeds too.

Know what activity does your dog likes the most

The best way to get to know your dog is by evaluating what activities it likes the most. If it is the aggressive kind, it will most likely enjoy physical activity. While other dogs might enjoy playing with toys or maybe just lazying around the house. Once you are sure what your dogs likes and dislikes, you can decide on appropriate interactive playthings.

For instance, if your pet is more into physical activities, it will enjoy a chew ball, wobble treat dispenser, etc. If it is more of the inquisitive type, it might enjoy a snuffle mat which will keep it busy in sniffing treats for literally hours.

definition of challenging dog toys
Challenging dog toys are the ideal way to prevent separation anxiety in stressed dogs.

Choose appropriately-sized challenging and interactive toys

Apart from withstanding your dog’s bite, there are other considerations when it comes to interactive dog puzzles and dog size. Small puzzle pieces intended petite dogs may prove to be a choking hazard for larger dogs. Similarly, a small breed may not be able to properly handle a large-sized ball.

Research what type of interactive toys will work best for your pup

Researching as much as you can be insightful when choosing the right stimulative toys for your pup. In this department, the internet is your friend. lookup dog owners with a similar breed as yours, and get meaningful insights from them about the kind of toys that work best as well as which ones have shortcomings when it comes to your specific dog breed.

Always check the materials used

This is an important factor you need to be mindful of. Your interactive puzzles or feeding toys will interact with your dog’s food as well as their mouth. It is therefore important that these toys are safe and non-toxic. So, when you’re out shopping, make sure the toys you choose are free of chemicals such as BPA, PVC, and Phthalate. Learn more about these labels here.

Top 10 Challenging Toys for Dogs

The toys we have selected are top-rated in terms of value, effectiveness, durability, quality, and safety of your pet. Read on to learn about how these toys would provide value to your dog.

We have shortlisted the most popular challenging toys for dogs to prevent any destructive behavior. To get rid of such behavior, you need a positive outlet for your dog’s built up mental and physical energy. The right set of toys and activities to keep it busy and stimulate mental activity. Since the need for mental stimulation varies greatly between dogs, there are various different options available for you.

Moreover, these puzzles and dog exercise toys have various other benefits. Not only do they prevent destructive behavior and keep your pups busy, but they also provide a healthy outlet for their built-up energy. This means your pups stay active, physically and mentally.

1. Ottosson Puzzle Brick Dog Toy

The Outward Hound Brick Toy is a dog puzzle toy designed to stimulate your dog’s mind. The toy comes in a rectangular design with a striking blue and red color scheme. It encourages your dog to exercise its brain and rewards it with treats upon solving the puzzle. check out the Outward Hound website to see the whole range of toys they offer.

This is one of the most interactive dog toys, especially useful when feeding your dog. The Ottosson makes feeding treats as well as dry kibble fun and interactive.

If you’re looking for challenging toys for dogs, you may be disappointed in the Ottosson Puzzle, as it is too easy.

2. SmellyMatty Snuffle Mat for Dogs

Sniffiz brings a unique flower-shaped puzzle, The SmellyMatty Snuffle Mat. It comes in a vibrant combination of red and green and comes equipped with a snuffle mat, treat pockets, 5 maze puzzles, and numerous other features.

If you’re looking for smart toys for dogs, this may be it. This Snuffle Mat is a super interactive toy that keeps your dog hooked. It is especially effective for highly energetic dogs. Not only does it offer various treats and mental stimulation, but it also provides a cozy bed for your little pet to sleep in once it gets tired.

3. Interactive IQ Treat Dispensing Ball

The Lumoleaf treat ball is designed for small to medium dogs with multiple difficulty levels. It is one of the best toys to keep your dog busy as it combines the elements of physical activity and mental stimulation. Moreover, the movable slide opening allows you to adjust how easily treats can be retrieved from inside the ball.

This stimulating dog toy keeps your dog interested, and the slide opening treat door improves it’s problem-solving skills and enhances IQ level.

4. Treat-Dispensing Bob-A-Lot

As the name suggests, this quirky dog toy by StarMark is a super fun dog treat dispenser. It comes in two different sizes as well as a 2-pack. Additionally, it has adjustable openings for treats of different sizes.

If you’re wondering how to keep your dog entertained while feeding, this is your answer. This wobble-toy keeps your dog busy while gradually giving is dry kibble. The gradual release of food regulates digestion. It is especially effective against dogs that are fussy eaters.

This toy is not very durable. It can be chewed up if left with your dog unsupervised.

5. Nina Ottosson Dog Smart Puzzle

The Outward Hound Dog Puzzle may not be the most challenging dog toy but it is certainly a great introductory puzzle game for your pup. This interactive dog toy features removable bone-shaped covers that can hide treats.

This beginner dog puzzle will stimulate mental activity and prepare your dog for tougher puzzles. Moreover, due to its large size, this can be a fantastic interactive dog toy for large breeds and smaller ones too.

6. MACOODEE Interactive Dog Chew Toy

MACOODEE makes a 100% non-toxic dog chew toy available in bold green and blue colors. This high-quality and BPA free toy can be filled with small treats for dogs. Additionally, the manufacturer puts a great focus on quality and provides a return/refund service for dissatisfied customers.

This chewy puzzle game keeps your dog busy when it’s home alone. It also improves your dog’s IQ level. Moreover, it reduces boredom and prevents destructive behavior.

This toy is unsuitable for large or aggressive dogs.

7. Food Dispensing Dog Chew Puzzle

Wisdom makes chewy dog toys in two shapes, i.e. “spiral” and “flying ball.” This chew puzzle dispenses food. Small dog breeds are most suited to this chew puzzle. High-quality and non-toxic material makes it a safe toy and smart design make it very easy to clean. Moreover, it is available in two shades of blue.

This IQ treat is one of the best challenging dog toys on this list. It is very durable, non-toxic, and provides hours of fun for dogs. Additionally, it keeps your pup active and athletic.

8. Nosework for Dogs

This snuffle mat by CPOPBOY is another interactive snuffle mat. It can be used in a bowl form, mat form, or folded up completely for storage. Due to its dimensions, it is suitable for dogs of all sizes. This toy is very durable as it uses high-quality pet-friendly fabric. An anti-slip mat on the bottom makes it very stable.

This versatile snuffle mat is good for multiple reasons. It keeps your dog busy, stimulating its mind. Ideal for dogs that get bored easily, or get tired of dog toys. So, in turn, it prevents destructive behavior and allows for more controlled feeding.

A possible downside is that the fabric that imitates grass will get torn up if your dog is too aggressive with it.

9. Fun Feeder Slow Feeding Dog Bowl

In our list of puzzle toys for dogs, this is a unique product. Dog Games makes this maze-like food bowl that makes feeding all the more fun. It comes in various colors and patterns. Moreover, a non-slip base and food-safe materials make it an excellent option. It may be simple, but it is one of the best challenging dog toys as it is durable and always gets the job done.

The USP of this food bowl it slowing down feeding. Its made from PVC and BPA free materials. The maze-like pattern helps dogs eat up to 10 times slower. This helps with improved metabolism and digestion. Due to its effectiveness, it is a veterinarian-recommended product.

10. Green House Dog Snuffle Mat

Green House makes excellent dog snuffle mats. They come in 7 different striking colors and are machine-washable. Additionally, extra straps make storage easier and high manufacturing quality makes the mat resistant to chewing and biting.

Unlike other snuffle mats, this one is much more durable. It does not get chewed up easily and lasts a long time. The soft eco-friendly fabric is comfortable and breathable. You don’t have to worry about your dog’s nose getting irritated after playing with this.


In our list of the best challenging dog toys, we have covered various types of toys and their benefits and shortcomings. Along with our reviews, the insights about appropriate toy size, materials used, your dog’s temperament and various other factors mentioned above, you are well equipped to choose the right toy for your dog.

Of course, there is no objectively best interactive dog puzzle. The right toy for your dog depends on many factors, and you need to choose what would be the best one amongst our suggested options.

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