Let the Games Begin! Dog Games and Puzzles for Mental Stimulation

Barking About the Benefits of Interactive Dog Puzzles


A walk around the neighborhood, a trip to the dog park, a solid game of fetch – dog owners know the importance of physical exercise for their canine companions, but what about exercising a dog’s mind? That’s where dog puzzle toys come in.

Dogs needs both mental and physical exercise. The brain is like the fifth leg of a dog. It needs to be exercised to tire out a playful, active pooch. Fifteen minutes of mental exercise and enrichment is the equivalent of twice that time of running and a great way to calm a rowdy Rover or feisty Fido.

Research suggests that since dogs likely co-evolved with humans, they have developed some similar social skills, including the ability to problem-solve. Providing mental situation through problem-solving and fun games can help find a balance between a dog’s physical and mental health.

Here’s why adding dog puzzles and interactive dog toys to your playful pup’s life can make for a healthier, happier hound:

Exercise Mind & Body

Dog games challenge your dog’s problem-solving skills and enhance mental stimulation through playtime. Short on time for a long walk, tossing the tennis ball, squeezing the squeaker, or game of tug-of-war? While nothing really replaces daily exercise, these puzzles can tire out a dog mentally if getting outside isn’t an option.

Puzzle toys are also great for older dogs or dogs recovering from surgery or an injury who may be limited physically but still need healthy mental enrichment.

Treat Puzzles Slow Down Speedy Eaters

interactive dog toy

Puzzle toys force dogs to have to slow down at meal time. Having to work a little harder for dog food engages our dogs’ natural hunting and foraging instincts. It also helps improve digestion and prevent serious conditions like dog bloat.

Games like treat dispensers and kongs also help to slow down speedy eaters. Make them work for a treat! They use their noses to sniff out the food like they would a snuffle mat. Once your dog’s brain works to get the hidden treats out, they get to eat all the goodies!

Reduces Undesired & Destructive Behaviors

A busy doggy engaged in play is less likely to turn to potentially destructive behaviors as a way to cure their boredom. Dog puzzles, chew toys, and interactive squeaky toys (like this hide-and-seek plush) are a great way to focus your pup’s excess energy on something positive, playful and fun.

This way chewers will be way more interested in licking the peanut butter or dog treats out of the puzzle than in destroying your leather shoes.

Difficulty Levels Match Different Skills & Keep Dogs Learning

interactive dog toys for mental stimuation

Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound dog puzzles come in four levels of difficulty. Starting at Level 1 (like the Wobble Bowl slow feeder) can help pups engage and build confidence. Continue your pup’s learning and fun by challenging them with more difficult Level 2 (like the Dog Tornado) and Level 3 puzzle games (like the Dog Twister) as they outsmart the introductory puzzles.

For real smart alecks, Nina Ottosson’s Level 4 interactive dog games will challenge your pup big time. Your dog’s favorite treats or kibble can be easily hidden in either the outer or central compartments by sliding the puzzle pieces. This puzzle is ideal for dogs who have already mastered levels 1-3 of the puzzle line.

Dog puzzles are for small dogs, big dogs, and everything in between! Any dog or dog breed can do it. No dog trainer required!

Ready to get your pup started with brain games? Our puzzles can be found on our website, Amazon, Chewy, or your local pet store.