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10 Dog Puzzle Toys Your Dog Will Be Depressed Without

Breeding Business is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Published on
Tuesday 9 February 2016
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
best dog puzzle toys
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Have you ever wondered if your dogs feel lonely when you go out or when they are left alone at home? Dogs can experience anxiety and depression too. But compared to humans, it can be quite different.

Dog depression can occur during changes in the environment, loss of a loved one, phobia, illness, and hormonal imbalance. This persistent sadness that lasts for weeks or months can affect their behavior in different ways. But since some of these reasons are unavoidable, there are ways to help our fur buddies get through this sadness and that’s by introducing them to dog entertainment puzzle toys.

A lot of people don’t even know dog puzzle toys exist. When they hear a dog toy they think of ropes, balls, rubber, but not puzzles. Yet, dog puzzles and similar toys are perhaps the most interesting ones you can buy for your dogs. They are just amazing on so many levels. Let’s see why…

Top Benefits of Buying a Dog Puzzle Toys

Besides being entertaining, dog puzzle toys have great benefits to your dogs especially when it comes to their IQ and mental enrichment. Below are the best reasons why you should buy dog puzzle toys for your fur buddies.


Because dog puzzle toys require the dog’s mind and intellect to function at higher levels than usual, it makes these toys challenging which results in an engaged dog. Interactive dog toys like puzzles will give your dogs hours of fun and entertainment.

This can also act as a positive method to release their built-up energy and increase their mental capacity. Since dog puzzle toys can be challenging, they can sharpen their cognitive abilities such as memory skills and understanding gestures. 

Prevent Obsessive Behaviours

For dogs who tend to go crazy when their human is outside for hours, these toys will keep them busy for enough time to forget about you (sorry!) and then, they’ll fall asleep so you can take your time. 

Puzzle dog toys can also help you control any destructive behaviors caused by boredom and lack of mental training. So instead of chewing your furniture or excessive barking, they’ll be busy playing with dog games and puzzle toys.


Dog puzzle toys are not pricey, yet they last forever and keep your dog busy and excited. It’s a no-brainer… we handpicked the best ones below as you should avoid poor quality toys found everywhere from online stores to national pet stores.

Though it’s cheap, it can give a lot of advantages to your dog’s behavior especially if they’re feeling depressed. Purchasing dog puzzle toys is actually a win-win situation.


The challenge is one thing, but even when the dog figures out how to get his treats out of the puzzle toy, it remains extremely stimulating as it is never the same game!

Unlike a bottle of water with treats inside, these toys are designed to constantly stimulate your dog’s mind and it does work! Also, it has different levels which you can adjust to make sure that your dog won’t get bored. It’s like you’re playing video games with different levels and stages, sounds fun right?


Running after a ball is tiring and we all know it, but did you know that a 15-minute mental exercise is extremely tiring for a dog and more fulfilling? Now you do!

As mentioned above, puzzle-treat toys for dogs are a great way for your pets to release their built-up energies. This is a perfect solution for hyper dogs especially when it’s getting late at night. So before heading to bed, you can let them play with their puzzle toys so they can easily fall asleep.

Prolongs Eating Time

Many if not most dogs eat far too quickly, so offering the meals (dry kibble in this scenario) using these dog toy puzzles will hugely slow the process and your dog’s digestive system will thank you.

Puzzle treat toys for dogs also works like dog slow feeder bowls, it simply gives obstacles that your fur buddies must solve or navigate in order to reach their food which encourages healthier and safer eating habits.

Prevents Depression

Since your dog is busy solving their puzzle toys, they’ll be more likely to focus on playing with their interactive toys and getting their treats inside. Interactive toys for dogs are an effective method to distract your pets and prevent the feeling of depression and anxiety.

Just like us humans, dogs need to have a distraction to divert their attention and keep themselves busy to avoid persistent sadness. Well, in this case, a dog puzzle toy is a huge help.

Factors to Consider When Buying Dog Games Puzzle Toys

There are plenty of interactive toys for dogs available in pet shops or in online shops. But before purchasing one, make sure to consider these factors so that you can choose the best puzzle-treat toys for your dog.


When buying dog puzzle toys, make sure that they’re durable. We all know that dogs are like chewing machines, but no worries because indestructible dog chew toys and heavy-duty dog puzzle toys are a lot safer to use.

You won’t have to worry about your dogs tearing it apart and swallowing small parts since they’re made of high-quality materials designed for the strong bite force of dogs. Though these toys can be quite expensive, it’s better to be cautious than to buy cheaper smart dog toys that will only last for hours.


Interactivity is important when it comes to dog puzzle games. We don’t expect our dogs to solve the puzzle within seconds, so you need to have time and interaction with them too.

It’s important to supervise your dog while playing to make sure that you can somehow introduce the puzzle toys to them. Once they get a hang of it, you can then change the level of difficulty and let them do it on their own. It’s also a great way to bond and play with your fur buddies.

Dog-safe Materials

There are materials found in pet products that can be harmful to your dogs. Some of these toxins include lead, polyvinyl chloride,  bisphenol A (BPA),  phthalates, etc. that can cause cancer and immune system damage to your pets.

When buying dog puzzle toys, always check the materials and choose dog-safe materials to avoid any health complications to your dogs.


After days of playing puzzle-treat games, your dog might get bored and ignore their toys. To avoid this, choose an entertainment dog toy that has adjustable features and can be played in different ways.

There are dog puzzle toys that have adjustable difficulty levels to assure that your dogs can have various challenges every single day.


To keep your fur buddies motivated, your dog puzzle toys should have treats inside as a reward for their effort and improved mental skills.

There are interactive toys for dogs that will automatically give treats once they solve the puzzle. Usually, dog puzzle toys have this feature to make sure that your dogs will have the urge to solve each challenge to get those yummy treats!

Difficulty Level

Dogs are fast learners especially if curiosity kicks in – they’ll always find a way to get that food inside the puzzle. But if it’s your dog’s first time playing with puzzle toys, you should purchase easy ones before jumping to difficult ones. 

Dog puzzle games are a step-by-step procedure that should start from easy, normal, and hard challenges. In this way, your dogs will enjoy playing with their puzzle toys even more.

Colors and Size

We all know that our dogs have different visions than ours. In our fur buddy’s case, blue and yellow are the easiest colors your dogs can see. Purchasing puzzle toys with these colors can keep them interested and focused on their toys.

The size of the interactive toy is also important for your dogs to enjoy, this can depend on whether you have a small, medium, large, or giant dog breed. Of course, choose a puzzle toy that’s perfect for your dog’s size.

10 Top Dog Puzzle Toys Your Dog Will Be Depressed Without

It’s almost a felony not to have one of these below since they are amazing. We’re not manufacturing them so we aren’t bothered at dissing them if we had to but they really are amazing dog toys to own.

1. PetSafe Busy Buddy Twist ‘n Treat Dog Puzzle Toy

Most dog puzzle toys can be a nightmare for some dog owners using treats of very big sizes, they don’t fit well, they block the hole, and they just ruin the party for your dog who does not understand what is going on. Problem solved.

PetSafe, well known for its numerous quality dog supplies, has come up with a two-piece design that works with pretty much any dog treat option you may have. From huge to tiny, from flat to round, yep…

You can twist the two parts wide apart for a quick treat-dispensing game, or twist them close together for more of a challenge. I use the close twist for when I have to leave home for a few hours, it definitely keeps her active and her mind doesn’t get to think where her human is!

It is made of natural rubber but like most toys, if your dog has a destructive jaw, you may get the bigger size and watch it out the first time to make sure it is solid enough. It is not meant to be an indestructible toy but I’ve seen mine with Labradors, Rottweilers, and Border Collies—it resisted so far!

2. Nina Ottosson Dog Brick Activity Toy

There is a wide range of quality dog puzzle toys made by Nina Ottosson but this one is the best all-rounder. It does the job amazingly well by keeping your dog entertained while stimulating his mind and intellect.

This dog puzzle is not rocket science and it is not meant to be. But thanks to its unique design, it makes it very very very hard for dogs to figure it out easily even after they understand how to find the treats. It requires a great smell, a lot of practice from them but also a tiny bit of luck to uncover the right compartment. The luck part is crucial so the dog puzzle toy remains exciting for them even after months of use

If you have treats already at home, chances are they will fit it. It uses regular-sized treat compartments so you should be fine!

Another model, the Tornado dog puzzle toy by Nina Ottosson is amazing and slightly more challenging but there is a glitch: because it is not flat, any dog with a bit of strength will make it fall and break it to pieces within hours or days.

3. Northmate Interactive GREEN Slow Pet Feeder

Perhaps my favorite yet the least complicated of all. This slow pet feeder is simple, very resistant, and really entertaining for dogs. Lastly, it is actually better for your dog’s health as well. An academic study showed that feeding on far too hurriedly increases the risk of bloat by 15% What else can one ask?

Most dogs (mine for sure) eat fast. They literally gorge the entire bowl down and that’s it, the end. She isn’t sick or ill because of it but I would appreciate it if she could eat a little slower (she is eating so fancy kibble… a perk of working for a dog blog!)

Northmate Interactive Slow Pet Feeder does exactly that with its unique dog puzzle toy: developed mirroring a tuft of grass, yet looking just like fine modern artwork, the desirable amount of kibble must be tossed across the green and after this, it is your dog’s job to push the food out between the several blades of grass and puzzle his meal out!

4. CPFK Dog Chew Suction Cup Tug of War Toy

With the CPFK dog entertainment toys, your pets can enjoy a fun tug of war even if they’re alone. It features an enhanced suction cup that can withstand up to 200 pounds of pulling force that can sturdily adhere to the floor.

Besides this, its dog chew toy ball has a built-in squeal design that produces sounds during chewing. The ball also has cotton dog bite ropes on both sides to help relieve boredom since your dog has plenty of ways to play with this puzzle ball.

It can also serve as effective dirt and dental calculus remover on your dog’s teeth since the ball has different sizes of molar particles around 360° on the spherical surface. You can also place dog treats inside for a more fun playtime.

Made of natural TPR materials that are environmentally friendly and are totally safe for your pets. Their indestructible rope is made of high-density material and wear-resistant that making it sturdy and durable,

5. DR CATCH Dogs Food Puzzle Toys for IQ Training & Mental Enrichment

This slow-feeder dog puzzle toy will help small pets improve their eating pleasure and IQ at the same time. You can use this as an educational game toy to exercise your dog’s brain and enhance their sense of smell.

It has 14 holes that can hold different kinds of treats depending on your choice and 8 movable points where you can slide to hide the food. This way, your dogs will be motivated to use their nose or paws to move the sliders and eat their favorite treat.

This puzzle toy can also prolong eating time and protect your dog’s stomach especially if they’re fast eaters.

6. TRIXIE Dog Activity | Pet Strategy Games

The TRIXIE puzzle gambling tower is perfect for beginner dogs who love to tug ropes for a special treat. It has 3 base cones and a rope that can be gently tugged by your pets to release treats down and out at the bottom of the tube.

You can customize it by varying the number of rope loops and changing the placement of dog treats to increase the level of difficulty. The TRIXIE dog activity toys also have different puzzle games such as flip boards, flip and fun, poker box, turn around, chess game, flower tower, and mini mover.

TRIXIE dog activity puzzle toys aim to provide mental stimulation for your dog and build quality time for owners and their fur buddies. It can enhance your dog’s ability to pull drawers and lift cones. The product’s dimensions are 9.75 x 9.75 x 13 inches and weigh 1.96 pounds.

7. Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound – Interactive Dog Puzzle Toys

The Nina dog casino is a level 3 (advanced) interactive dog puzzle toy. It helps your pets learn sequential steps and combinations by seeking and finding hidden treats inside to keep them mentally active. 

You can simply pull the orange drawer and fill it with treats and push it back to close. Then swivel the dog bone to lock the drawers and let your dogs figure out how they can get the treat. This puzzle toy is completely safe for pets since there are no removable parts to prevent dogs from choking.

It’s also BPA, PVC, and phthalate-free and made of safe materials to ensure your dog’s health. You can easily clean it using warm water and soap before and after using.

8. Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound – Multipuzzle Dog Toy

If you think that your dog has an expert level of skill when it comes to dog puzzle toys, then this Nina multi puzzle toy will surely challenge their mental skill. This is perfect for ultra smart dogs that have already mastered Nina Ottosson’s level 1 to 3 puzzle toys – it’s recommended to purchase the easiest puzzle toys first before giving your dog the expert level toy.

In this multi puzzle dog toy, you can hide your dog’s treat under the sliders in the outer tray and center compartments. For an extra challenge, you can place the ridged orange locks in place to secure the green square tiles and encourage your dog to seek the treats.

This puzzle has four challenges – green tiles, spinning wheel, orange locks, and center sliders – that have an adjustable level of difficulty. The Nina Ottosson multi puzzle dog toy is made of food-safe materials that are harmless for your fur buddies. Once done using, you can hand wash this puzzle toy with warm water and mild soap.

9. Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel Squeaky Puzzle Plush Dog Toy

This hide and squeak dog puzzle toy is the easiest way to get your dogs engaged for hours of fun. It features a 2-in-1 interactive play where you can fill the tree trunk with 6 stuffed squeaky squirrels or use them for a game of fetch – which dogs love.

Outward Hound hide-a-squirrel squeaky dog puzzle toy will keep your dog mentally stimulated, especially their natural instinct to hunt by using the plush squeaky squirrels. The stuffed plush has a texture that is gentle on the teeth and gums making it great for both puppies and adult dogs.

It’s also available of four sizes – small (7″ H x 5″ L x 7″ W), medium (6.5″ H x 6.5″ L x 6.5″ W), large (7.5″ H x 10.5″ L x 7.5″ W), extra large (7″ H x 11.75″ L x 7″ W). All these sizes have 3 squeaky animals included but you can still purchase extra squeaky squirrels.

10. Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball – Adjustable Dog Treat Dog

Last but definitely not least is the adjustable dog puzzle treat ball. This food-dispensing interactive dog puzzle toy will keep your dogs mentally and physically active while playing.

Its customizable IQ treat ball will let you adjust the desired difficulty level by changing the interior disc so your fur buddies can have different puzzle challenges every day. This dog treats dispensing ball is also designed to help you maintain a healthy eating habit of your dog and to limit the number of treats your dogs get.

Besides being an IQ treat ball, it can also serve as a great alternative to slow feeder bowls, lick mats, and snuffle mats for dogs. It’s available in two sizes – 3 inches for smaller dogs and 4 inches for larger dogs.

Best Dog Games Puzzle Toys: FAQ

We gathered the top frequently asked questions about dog puzzle toys to prevent depression and boredom, below are the best answers to your inquiries.

Do puzzle toys help dogs?

Yes, dog puzzle toys help your fur buddies enhance their mental skills. It can also serve as a distraction so they won’t feel depressed when they’re alone. It’s a great method to prevent obsessive behaviors and bad eating habits.

Should I buy puzzle toys for my dog?

You should definitely buy your dogs some puzzle toys since it has a lot of great benefits. You can start buying puzzle games for beginner dogs and then increase the level of difficulty for them to develop cognitive skills. Surely, both you and your dogs will benefit from this type of toy.

What do treat puzzles do for dogs?

Interactive dog puzzle toys are designed to challenge your dog’s problem-solving skills and enhance his/her IQ. It can also give you and your dog a chance to have an interaction with each other and form a great quality bond.

How can you tell if your dog is bored?

You can tell that your dog is bored when they start chewing on random stuff like your furniture, digging, excessive licking, and scratching randomly. These are only a few of the signs that need some attention. If your dog seems bored, you can give them dog puzzle toys to keep them busy and productive.

How many hours a day should I play with my dog?

Generally, you can play with your dogs for a minimum of 1-2 hours per day. You can either take them on a walk, teach them new tricks, play with them interactive dog puzzle games, or have a cuddle time with them. Remember that your dog still needs attention for them to feel loved and valued.

What toys are good for dogs with anxiety?

The most common toys for dogs with anxiety are chew bones, stuffed toys, and puzzle-treat toys. Playing interactive games like fetch with your dogs can also lessen their anxiety especially if you’ll give them treats for doing a good job.

How do I get my dog interested in puzzle toys?

You can simply introduce the dog puzzle toys by showing them how to use them. For them to be able to understand how it works, you can demonstrate how it should be played and how they can get the treats inside. Also, motivate your dogs by giving them their favorite treats when they try to solve the puzzle.

Which one to pick would depend on what your dog likes. I would definitely buy the Northmate Slow Pet Feeder as a given, and then either the PetSafe Dog Puzzle Toy for a small dog or the Nina Ottosson’s one for a larger dog.

We’ve reviewed so many other dog toys and supplies, just take your pick:

One comment on “10 Dog Puzzle Toys Your Dog Will Be Depressed Without”

  1. Helena Birch

    I just got the slow pet feeder ‘GREEN’ and it is simply awesome.. my jack russell is finally having fun eating and not just glurping its entire bowl within seconds.

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