Pet Products

A Guide to Dog & Puppy Enrichment Toys

How to Choose the Best Dog & Puppy Enrichment Toys

Dog and puppy enrichment toys are a great way to keep restless dogs, curious puppies, and boredom-induced aggressive chewers at bay. By combining playtime with treat time — or even mealtime for speedy eaters! — your pooch will be getting the mental stimulation they need.

With all of the dog puzzle toys out there with varying levels of difficulty, what’s a doggo to choose? Read on for an easy guide to choosing the right Outward Hound dog enrichment puzzle for your pup.

Did you know?

play with your puppy. puppy enrichment toys

  • 15 minutes of mental activity with dog treat games is equal to 30 minutes of physical exercise!
  • Treat dispensing dog toys and puzzles help to eliminate boredom and prevent destructive behaviors by providing mental enrichment.
  • Eating slower via interactive treat toys, food puzzle games, or slow feeders can prevent serious health issues like dog bloat.
  • All dogs can benefit from mental enrichment activities and scent games, including puppies, senior dogs, and all breeds and sizes!

A Guide to the Best Interactive Dog Toys for Enrichment

interactive dog toys for mental stimuation

About Level 1 Nina Ottosson Dog Treat Games

On a scale of Easy to Advanced, Level 1 Nina Ottosson treat dispensing dog games and puzzles are considered easy. Level 1 dog games are the perfect way for pets new to puzzle toys to prepare for more challenging puzzles to come.

These games are also made with a simple, 1-step play action that your dog will use to help uncover treats that you’ve hidden inside the game. Level 1 Nina Ottosson games include:

The Treat Tumble

The Nina Ottosson Treat Tumble is shaped like a tennis ball and is a great treat dispensing toy for your dog. Simply fill this treat ball with your dog’s favorite treats or kibble. Give the ball to your dog and watch them play as they figure out how to release the goodies.

The Dog Smart

dog smart interactive nina ottosson games

Great for introducing your dog to treat training games, the level 1 Dog Smart gets your pup interested in games and prepares them for more exciting and challenging puzzles to come. The Dog Smart is also ideal for treating or slow feeding your dog because it can hold wet food, dry kibble, or even peanut butter!

We didn’t forget about the youngsters! If you’re looking for puppy toys with a challenge, try the Puppy Smart puzzle.

Watch the video below to learn more about the Dog Smart.

About Nina Ottosson Level 2 Treat Games

On a scale of Easy to Advanced, Nina Ottosson Level 2 Treat Games are considered “Intermediate.” These treat feeding dog games combine 1- and 2-step play actions to help your dog pick up rewards in different ways.

Level 2 treat games include:

The Treat Maze

interactive dog toy

The Treat Maze dog puzzle toy releases treats from two entry points: one on each side of the saucer. Put treats or dog food in both sides of the top center hole, and watch as your dog makes it wobble to release them.

The Dog Hide ‘N Slide

interactive dog toy

The Hide N’ Slide is a dog treat game with built-in play pieces that don’t come out when your dog plays with it. Durable construction also helps to keep this dog toy intact, making it your new go-to dog game time after time. Unique elevated play pieces in the Hide N’ Slide help dogs access treats and move pieces more easily to keep them entertained and engaged.

The Dog Tornado

interactive dog toy puppy enrichment toys

With 12 treat compartments in this interactive dog toy, The Dog Tornado is a smart and fun choice for mealtime as it holds your dog’s favorite kibble or peanut butter. Each level of this treat dispenser spins as your dog searches for treats hiding inside. The spinning movement keeps your dog engaged and presents them with a fun and challenging way to play.

Nina’s Tip: Pour broth or put peanut butter into compartments, freeze overnight, and let your dog enjoy a long-lasting pupsicle!

The Dog Brick

nian ottosson dog brick

Complete with four different treat feeding features, the Nina Ottosson Dog Brick is made with easy open-close flip compartments to hide a treat in. Perfect for what dog trainers call “nose work,” it comes with removable bone puzzle pieces that offer an even more interesting challenge to seeking and eating treats!

About Nina Ottosson Level 3 Treat Games

Lastly, Level 3 dog puzzle toys would be considered our “Advanced” games. Level 3 dog games challenge your pup by requiring a series of steps to each reward hidden within the puzzle. Most of the play actions required to release the treats are two steps and must be made in a sequence in order to release the mouth-watering rewards.

Level 3 treat games include:

The Dog Worker

interactive dog toy

One of our first level 3 dog games is the Dog Worker. It looks a bit like a mad scientist’s kit, but If your dog has mastered introductory puzzles, level 3 interactive dog games are a smart choice! Simply place treats in circular blocks and compartments in the base. Swivel flippers to cover tracks and lock spinning top.

Dog Twister

interactive dog toy and game

Next, the Dog Twister is also great for dogs that are looking for more challenging interactive dog toy. To play with the Dog Twister, pull handles out to unlocked position to slide paw panels. Place treats or kibble in compartments. Line up sliding paw panels and lock them in place by pushing handles in.

The Dog Casino

interactive dog toy

Unique to the Dog Casino interactive dog game is the locking bone pieces. If your dog excels at solving puzzles, introduce them to a new challenge by simply twisting the bones on top to lock the drawers. The Dog Casino is especially recommended for more challenging play, but can be used with dogs of all play levels.

Watch this video to learn more about the Dog Casino.

Plush Interactive Dog Toys

puppy enrichment toys

Just because it’s interactive doesn’t mean it has to involve food (though your dog might argue otherwise). If your dog prefers squeaky toys and hide and seek, consider something like the Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel for mental exercise.

This hide and seek plush dog puzzle was designed specifically to eliminate boredom, encourage positive play, and feed your dog’s natural hunting instincts. The squeaker squirrel-filled trunk will challenge your busy buddy to figure out how to extract each toy through the holes.

Get creative! The trunk can even double as a tug toy. Some dogs like to use the trunk by itself for an active game of tug-of-war.

The Bottom Line on Choosing the Right Interactive Dog Toy

Always remember to keep your pet safe. There is no such thing as an indestructible dog toy. Dog owners should always supervise their pets during playtime.

Whether you choose to try one of these Outward Hound designs, a classic kong, or DIY your own snuffle mat or doggie treat dispenser, at the end of the day, it’s important to give our pets the daily mental stimulation they need. Our pups need more than just a dog chew toy to keep them occupied. After all, 15 minutes of mental activity using a dog puzzle is equal to 30 minutes of a game of fetch with a ball launcher!

No matter their breed or age, both small dogs and large dogs deserve a quality brain game.

These interactive dog and puppy enrichment toys can be found on our website, Chewy, Amazon, Pet Supplies Plus, and your local pet store!

For more interactive play ideas from Outward Hound, check out our post on some of the best toys for mental stimulation!

Still have questions about our dog games? We’re happy to lend a paw! Please be send your questions to support@outwardhound.com.

2 Comments

  1. Hello, I love the make of your selection. Question: I have a blind, deaf Dane and would like to know what you can recommend. Of course her nose works overtime. I lean towards the Treat Maze or Hide and Seek. Any other thaughts? Thank you.

    1. Either would be a great for her super smelling abilities! Treat Maze is level 1 so you might want to start with that 🙂

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