Great Interactive Dog Games & Puzzle Toys for Mental Stimulation
Finding a hard time keeping up with your pup’s energy needs? Can’t play tug of war with them while you work from home? On those days where you just can’t get outside, you can beat boredom by boosting your dog’s problem-solving skills with an interactive dog puzzle!
Teaching your dog to solve dog puzzles during playtime is a wonderful way to stimulate their mind. Doggy brain games and puzzles promote new challenges other than physical play, calm your pups, provide a source of enrichment, and release pent-up energy. Interactive dog games and puzzles come in various difficulty levels to stimulate your dog’s brain.
Here is a list of the five of the best dog games and how they work to keep your pooch occupied when basic squeaky toys or chew toys just won’t do.
1. Have a Ball With a Treat Tumble
The Level 1 Treat Tumble Puzzle Game dog toy from Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound is a perfect beginner game for dogs who love tennis balls. Perfecting this game will help gain interest and prepare for more puzzles to come.
The Treat Tumble is perfect for treating and training a dog who is new to dog puzzles. Just fill this treat dispenser ball with your dog’s favorite high-value treats or kibble. Give them the ball and watch them play and try to release the treats! Tasty snacks are released as they play which exercises both mind and body. The treat tumble works to challenge your dog’s problem-solving skills while enhancing your dog’s mental stimulation through fun and play.
Start your pup off with beginner-level exercise. Once they have mastered the game, then introduce them to more complex level-2 puzzles.
Tip: Want to make it more challenging? Once they get the hang of the basics, hide the treat among other strong-smelling items. This will boost their cognitive ability to pick out certain scents.
2. Spin Round & Round With the Dog Tornado
Level up with the Level 2 Dog Tornado Puzzle Game dog toy from Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound. This spinning dog treat dispenser game is an ideal toy for bored dogs, and will keep your canine occupied for hours! Your dog will really have to use his snoot for what dog trainers call “nose work” in order to get to the goodies, using their nose over the compartments like they would with a snuffle mat.
This challenging toy features three tiers with 12 compartments for your dog’s favorite treats, peanut butter, or dog food. This mentally stimulating and entertaining dog game encourages your pup to spin the interactive puzzle’s layers to reveal the hidden treats (kind of like a game of hide and seek). Three bone-shaped covers can be used to make things even tougher as your pup gets better at the puzzle.
Check out the Dog Tornado in action here.
3. Flip & Wobble a Treat Maze
Add some fun into your dog’s mental exercise with the Level 2 Treat Maze dog game. Fill both sides of the saucer with treats. Once you’ve filled the Treat Maze with your dog’s favorite snacks, shake the saucer in order to help release the smell of the goodies locked inside. Once you have their attention, give the Treat Maze to your dog to watch them problem solve away! Dog owners can even use this as a tool to keep their dog’s attention while they do household chores or work from home.
4. Do the Twist With the Dog Twister Puzzle
The Level 3 Dog Twister dog puzzle toy is a fun treat treasure hunt for dogs. When you’re looking for a toy for bored dogs who have mastered the simpler dog treat puzzles, this engaging advanced dog treat dispenser game is the perfect next step! The Dog Twister requires real problem-solving skills and is an interesting puzzle toy for smart dogs needing a bigger challenge.
The Dog Twister features nine treat drawers for dog snacks or kibble, all of which are secured with nine locking handles that require your dog to follow sequential steps to reveal the puzzle’s rewards. A great addition to any smart dog’s toy box, this is also an effective slow feeder to reduce the pace at mealtimes.
5. Up the Ante With the Dog Casino
This Level 3 Dog Casino Puzzle is an advanced dog treat dispenser game. This game is an ideal toy for bored dogs with big brains, keeping them happy and occupied! The challenging dog toy features six treat drawers for peanut butter or kibble, which are secured with six twisting bone locks. This mentally stimulating and entertaining dog game encourages your pup to follow sequential steps to reveal the interactive dog toy puzzle’s rewards.
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Nina Ottosson has been creating dog games and puzzle toys for all types of dogs for more than 25 years. She has received a 2017 Pet Age Icon Award for her development of innovative dog puzzle toys and raising awareness for mental stimulation being an important part of a dog’s health.
The Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound brand conveniently classifies their dog games and puzzles with different difficulty levels. As your dog gains confidence, motor skills, and problem-solving abilities, they can graduate up to new challenges beyond treat toys like kongs.
These games are washable too! Keep your dog’s toys and games clean by using warm running water and mild soap. Rinse thoroughly. Made with wipeable surfaces for indoor and outdoor fun.
Don’t forget to play it safe. While these puzzles are great for all breeds including small dogs and large dogs, they aren’t for chewers.
Dog puzzles and games can be found on our website, Chewy, Amazon, Pet Supplies Plus, or your local pet store.
Editor’s note: This post has been updated as of April 2021 to reflect the most pup-to-date information.