A Plethora of Puzzle Toys

We are always on the lookout for more options for mental stimulation and interactive games to offer our dogs opportunities to combat boredom and meet their needs. Sometimes the convenience of having an easy, ready made product can save us when it comes to hectic schedules. Below you’ll find some great purchasable puzzle options!

As with any new toy, always supervise your dog to ensure they don’t ingest non-edible pieces or risk choking on small parts.

 

Lower Energy Activities

Woof Pupsicle – The Woof Pupsicle has been a recent fan favorite! The thing I like about this toy is that you can choose to buy their treat fillers, or you can buy their silicone mold to make your own! I also like the ability to unscrew the toy for easy cleaning. I just throw it in the dishwasher!

Soothing Saucer – For dogs that are big fans of licking activities like Kongs and Toppls, this can be a great option. Though it is sold with a “soothing sauce” that is meant to have calming properties, any liquid can be used. Try it with a dog-safe broth!

Toppl – A fabulous alternative to a Kong, this Toppl is our go to for an easy to use and clean licky treat experience.

Licki Mat – Another favorite, these silicone mats are textured to take your dog some time to lick off all the goods. Check out their other options that include wobble bowls and mats with suction cups.

Snuffle Mat – You know we love when a dog sniffs! A snuffle mat is a great tool for indoor brain stimulation when you are limited on time or the weather is preventing any outdoor exploration.

 

Higher Energy Activities

Holee Roller – The Holee Roller ball is a blast for a bunch of reasons. Try putting a large hard treat in the middle, or taking small pieces of paper or fabric and rolling up treats, then stuffing the material inside the ball. Your dog will spend lots of time pulling each of the pieces out. My dog also enjoys using this ball for fetch because it squishes and we can also play tug. For an even more ready-to-go option, check out this Petration Brand Snuffle Ball!

Tearrables – Though I haven’t used these toys personally, I love the idea. This toy is more for “tear-ers” than “de-stuffers.” With heavy duty velcro, you can let your pup “destroy” this toy over and over again.

Orbee Snoop – The Orbee Snoop ball is one of my favorites because not only does my dog get a brain workout rolling it around, it’s QUIET! If you are wanting to give your dog some stimulation while you are taking a call, working, or watching TV, this is a great option.

Jolly Ball – This toy is a blast for self players. The handle allows the dog to carry it around and toss it in the air. Some of the smaller versions have a hole in them that I use to put some small treats in and let my dog roll and carry it around to get at the food.

Hide-a-Toy – Hide-a-Toys are another great indoor option that allows dogs to engage in their natural foraging tendencies. There are a ton of creative iterations of this toy.

2-in-1 Toys – If your dog is bankrupting you with the amount of toys they seem to destroy, get a 2-in-1! These toys involve at least one toy inside of another. Your dog will enjoy the textural changes of the toys and get to indulge in the normal dog behavior of shredding.

Snout Roller – I love these toys for their durability and scalability of difficulty. Because they come with additional rings to add, you can slowly increase the difficulty setting for your dog to get the treats out. I also find that this one is a great toy to work on problem solving.

 

If your budget is a bit snug or you just prefer making toys yourself, we’ve got you covered! My favorite DIY puzzle toys are listed below, and if you want even more ideas, you can check out my teammate Lesley Gurule’s blog article about her favorite DIY toys here.

 

DIY Activities

 

Lower Energy Activities

Baking mat – If you have any silicone baking mats or textured molds, you can try smearing something yummy on it and making a DIY lickimat!

Frozen peanut butter jar/yogurt container – When you get to the end of your yogurt or peanut butter containers, don’t rinse and recycle quite yet! Throw it in the freezer for a couple hours, then give it to your pup. 

Food smeared on lid – Another DIY lickimat option, take the lid of a safe food container like a peanut butter jar and smear a little treat on top to give your pup. You can freeze it to make it last longer.

Scatter feeding – If you’ve followed Pet Harmony for any length of time, you likely know that we are obsessed with scatter feeding, and there’s a good reason too! Because dogs’ primary sense is smell, this is an excellent way to let them explore the world, process, and get out some energy in possibly one of the simplest and quickest ways possible. There are few enrichment games that are easier for you to set up for your dog than grabbing a handful of treats and tossing them across your yard. Let your dog take their time and use their nose to find all of the little goodies. This is a great option for their meals if you use kibble.

Frozen carrot – Freezing full size carrots can be a great cool treat for your pup who likes to chew and eat sticks! Not only are they getting to enjoy breaking and ingesting, but they are also getting a healthy snack!

 

Higher Energy Activities

Cardboard boxes – Ask any of the team members at Pet Harmony how many empty cardboard boxes we have stashed away, and our answer will likely be, “Too many.” I love repurposing old Amazon boxes, food boxes, empty paper towel tubes, paper bags, and paper packaging for my dog to rummage and shred. The best part is that as your dog gets quicker and quicker about tearing up the box, you can start to layer! I will often put a few treats in a cardboard tube, fold it up, put it inside a folded cardboard box, and then put that inside a paper bag! 

Head of lettuce/cabbage – Similar to the frozen carrot, this is a great, cool, healthy treat for your pup that allows them to meet their shredding needs! Save a head of romaine or cabbage and toss it your dog’s way for some very entertaining (for both them and us) destruction! You can hide some treats within the leaves for some added fun, if you’d like!

Muffin tin game – Take a muffin tin and put treats in each of the holes. Then take tennis balls or other safe, small toys, and cover each hole. Let your dog problem solve having to pick up and remove each toy to get to the food inside!

Holes in bottles – An easy DIY treat rolling game is to take a large plastic bottle and poke a couple holes large enough that small treats can fall out. Put some goodies inside and let your dog problem solve getting the treats.

Treat Hide-n-Seek – A great one for kids and adults, put your dog in another room and then hide individual treats around the house. Let them out of the other room and tell them to go search. The first time you play this game, it’s best to hide the treats at your dog’s nose height or on the ground. As they get more proficient, you can start hiding treats at different levels to increase difficulty. Bonus points for playing this game outside!

 

Now What?

Next time you are exploring options for feeding your pup, try some of these options out and see what your pup likes best! There is a learning curve for new activities and puzzles, so give your pup time to work it out! This will only help develop their problem solving skills.

 

Happy Training! 

Claire Laster

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