21 Best Dog Puzzle Toys to Make Your Pet Smarter
Bored? Your dog might be, too. But unlike you, your dog can't kill time with a smartphone.
Dog puzzle toys are a great way to cure boredom and keep your dog's mind active and engaged, even when you don't have time to play.
From brain-boosting IQ toys to long-lasting food dispensers, these are the best puzzle toys for dogs on the market.
1. Treat Time? Bone Appetit!
Rating: 4.4 (out of 5)
Bottom line: Your dog's education has to start somewhere. This dog puzzle toy has nine compartments hidden by bone-shaped covers. Just put treats under them and let your dog work out how to access the snacks.
Customer review: "I just got this today, but my dog has already done a few rounds with it. She’s been having a blast with it! It doesn’t keep her occupied for a super long time, but it’s something that I think she’ll enjoy for a good, long while." —Victoria & Joe
Buy now: Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Dog Smart, Level 1, $11.24
2. A Trickier Treat Puzzle to Try
Bottom line: Outward Hound is pretty much the inventor of dog puzzle toys. They have dozens of models, and this Dog Brick toy is one of their best sellers.
It's harder than the level one puzzle, including treat compartments that open in three different ways. Get this one if your dog is particularly clever, or if they've already mastered level one.
Customer review: "My dog (10yo 17lb Jack Russell/poodle mix, light chewer, food motivated, smart enough to figure out kitchen cabinets) is a huge fan of every food puzzle I have gotten him, because, well, food! This one has kept his interest even after he figured out how to solve it, because now I only put kibbles in some of the compartments so he has to sniff out the right ones to open." —Janet S.
Buy now: Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Dog Brick, Level 2, $14.32
3. The Next Level of Dog Puzzle Challenges
Bottom line: Now the dog puzzles are getting intense. The Dog Worker level 3 puzzle requires pets to learn to open compartments using multiple steps.
Each compartment requires a combination of swiveling, scooting and spinning to open, giving their brain a major boost. The pieces aren't removable, so owners don't have to worry about pets choking on small pieces.
Customer review: "I wasn't sure if it was even possible for a dog to figure out something this complex, rather than just moving pieces at random until the food comes out. It took her about half a year to get this good, but now one of my dogs can empty the entire puzzle within less than a minute." —Nox
Buy now: Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Worker, Level 3, $29.99
4. The Ultimate Canine Brain Twister
Bottom line: This is Outward Hound's toughest dog puzzle toy of all. Treats are hidden beneath sliding green tiles, center sliders, and a spinning wheel, with orange locks to make the game even harder to master.
If your dog can ace this one, he should be in doggy Mensa.
Customer review: "I could not wait to get this puzzle and I was not disappointed! We have a lot of puzzles, but this one was so much different than any of the others! This one took my dog some time to figure out but he loved it! Very durable, easy to clean. We used some Purebites to keep him motivated to solve the entire puzzle and he did!" —Dakota
Buy now: Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Multipuzzle, $29.99
5. Similar Puzzle Toy, Different Brand
Bottom line: This dog puzzle feeder toy is similar in design to the ones made by Outward Hound. It's made of thick, chew-resistant material that's super easy to clean, and it includes 14 compartments to hide treats in.
Pet owners love it, and we also love its soft, muted color scheme.
Customer review: "Our dog loves it. Only downfall is he will pick it up and try to walk away with it. Wish there was suction cups on the back to attach it to the floor." —Ashley
Buy now: Suwikeke Interactive Dog Game Puzzle Toy, $13.80
6. Play Fetch With a Fun Twist
Bottom line: To keep dogs amused while you're away, try this food-dispensing dog toy. It keeps them physically active while keeping their minds busy, too.
As they play, they'll learn just how to move the ball to get the treats out. It's adjustable, so the difficulty level can be increased as your pet gets smarter. Rinse with soap and water to clean.
Note: This toy can be hazardous for puppies or toy breeds, so make sure your dog is big enough to use it safely before purchasing.
Customer review: "If you have a food/treat motivated dog this is the toy to get. Be warned though, the dog will also drive you insane playing with it if they are anything like mine because they will do nothing but chase it around the house until every scrap of treat is gone." —SleepingKnight
Buy now: Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball, $9.95
7. A Toy To Slow Down Speedy Eaters
Bottom line: The Bob-A-Lot is a classic among dog puzzle toys. This small version is meant for dogs under 20 pounds, and its inner chamber can hold more than a cup of kibble.
It can be used for treats, but it can also be used to serve entire meals. That way, dogs have to work harder to get to their food, busting boredom and preventing them from eating too quickly.
Customer review: "Excellent feeding toy. It performs as advertised. Many reviewers don't seem to read the full description of this item. It is a hard plastic feeding toy for dogs and puppies that eat too fast. This is not a rubber toy to leave around for the dog to play with all the time. Nowhere does it say this toy is durable against chewing." —Lewis
Buy now: StarMark Bob-A-Lot Interactive Dog Toy, $13.14
8. A Toy for Those Who Like To Have Options
Bottom line: Some dog puzzle toys only last until your dog figures them out. Once they do, they're back to being bored. Not so with this one.
It has five different difficulty levels to continuously challenge your dog, and it's made from firm, non-toxic rubber that can handle even the roughest of chewers.
If it doesn't, the manufacturer offers a 30-day, 100 percent money-back guarantee.
Customer review: "I am shocked by how much my dog enjoys this toy. It's an amazing enrichment tool and it kept my 1 year old goldendoodle busy for an hour!" —Winnie
Buy now: Dog Puzzle Toys for Boredom, 4 Pack, $25.99
9. They Should Make One of These for People
Bottom line: Dogs are like kids. They need tons of love and attention to thrive, and it can be hard to keep them entertained. This food puzzle toy turns mealtime into an intellectual pursuit.
The quest for snackies will help puppies develop their minds and prevent cognitive decline in older dogs.
Its wooden base looks pretty cool, too.
Customer review: "This is the best puzzle my 8 year old lab has ever had! It took her half an hour to figure it out the first time. It keeps her attention for a long time. Great for her after quarantine anxiety!" —Sara0229
Buy now: Loobani Dogs Food Puzzle Feeder Toys for IQ, $35.59
10. A Fun Treat Puzzle for Light Chewers
Bottom line: Dogs don't see quite the same colors as we do, so extra-bright colors can help attract their attention.
This flip and slide treat-dispensing puzzle toy can help give their brains a workout and boost their IQ with regular use.
Customer review: "Very good toy. It's been pretty durable but our dogs, Standard Poodle and a Golden Doodle, aren't too tough on it. They are both able to figure out the puzzle, though the doodle needs some encouragement!
The fact that it has multiple interaction methods, not only push-pieces or flip-pieces, makes it more fun for the dogs. Or at least looks more fun to us!" —Drew V.
Buy now: Spot Seek-a-Treat Flip 'N Slide Treat Dispenser, $12.79
11. Hours of Entertainment, as Long as You Don't Have a Headache
Bottom line: Toys that make funny noises are a big hit with dogs. This treat-dispensing toy giggles as it rolls, sparking their curiosity. Treats fall out along the way, rewarding pups for playing with it.
It's easy to fill, and it makes eating dinner so much more amusing. As long as the sound doesn't drive you nuts, it's a good buy.
Customer review: "The best stimulation toy ever!!!!! Literally received this 8 minutes ago and my 9 month old boxer puppy is exhausted. He was so pissed off at the noise it made. He loves this toy so much. I didn’t even put kibble in it. Just the noise and the motion was enough to wear him out. He’s going to sleep so good tonight!!!" —Caligirl
Buy now: Holysteed Dog Treat Ball, $15.98
12. This Dog Puzzle Is Like a Cabbage, but Fun
Bottom line: Destructive pets, meet the snuffle mat. It looks like some kind of flowering plant, or maybe a cell from your old biology textbook. Whatever you call it, it's essentially a mat with layers and layers of ruffled, overlapping fabric.
Treats can be hidden beneath them, and dogs have to work to sniff out each piece of kibble. It also comes with buckles to attach the mat to the legs of a table or chair and prevent it from being flipped upside-down.
Customer review: "This snuffle mat is HUGE. Look at it with my 79 pound black and white staffy mix and my 37 pound brown beagle mix. They were so busy searching for their kibble that they never even considered flipping it over. Both of my dogs searched for a good 20 minutes or more.” — CrazyDogLady
Buy now: Awoof Snuffle Mat Pet Dog Feeding Mat, $37.99
13. Your Dog's Tennis Ball Needs an Upgrade
Bottom line: Only one of these five balls is a puzzle ball, but that's fine with us. The other four are just as fun to play with.
It's the best dog ball variety pack we've come across, with balls of all different textures to help with teething and bust boredom. The hollow ball can be filled with treats to slow down eating and keep them busy while they're home alone.
Pro tip: Freeze peanut butter in it for even longer distraction.
Customer review: "This is a nice variety of sturdy balls. The two treat balls are a great way to slow down my dogs’ eating - more effective than the slow bowl. The ball with ‘teeth’ to hold the treats is super challenging. The other one the treats gradually fall out as he plays with it." —Lionlam
Buy now: Slopehill 5 Interactive Dog Toys Balls, $18.99
14. Play Tug of War, Minus the Effort
Bottom line: Most suction cup toys aren't strong enough to handle large dogs, but this one is an exception. This multifunction toy is built to take on the roughest, toughest canines. Dogs can play tug-of-war all on their own, and the toy will dispense treats as they pull and shake it.
As an added bonus, the tough rubber of the toy helps to clean plaque off their teeth and reduce annoying doggy breath.
Customer review: "My dog is ALWAYS bugging me to play tug o war with him. Figured this would be worth a try. I was worried about longevity since he's of a breed that can be hard on things and play rough. It's been great so far with no signs of damage!" —Debbie F. Hernandez
Buy now: Authen Large Breed Suction Cup Dog Toy, $22.98
15. Owners Away? Time to Play
Bottom line: If your dog is crazy about laser pointers, just wait until he sees this. The Petgeek dog bone is like an ordinary dog bone if it came to life.
It rolls around on the floor all by itself, stimulating dogs to kick off the chase. After playtime, the TPU material can easily be cleaned by hand or in the dishwasher.
It's not cheap, but it's worth it.
Customer review: "I have a 2 year old dog named Eddie and he is completly blind. I am always searching to find toys for him that will help him to play like a sighted dog. After watching the video for this toy on Amazon, I decided to give it a try. Well, from the first second I gave it to him he just absolutely loved it! This is the first time he can play 100% like a dog with sight! " —Leslie Garabedian
Buy now: Petgeek Automatic Interactive Dog Toy, $44.99
16. The Next Best Thing to Chasing Real Squirrels
Bottom line: Anyone who has seen a dog knows how nuts they go for squirrels and chipmunks. Since letting them eat woodland creatures is ill-advised, try this dog puzzle toy instead.
It looks just like a wooden log with pesky chipmunks hiding inside, except your neighbors won't be mad if your dog tosses one over the fence. Each chipmunk has a squeaker for added fun.
A word to the wise: This toy is ridiculously fun, but it's meant for light chewers only.
Customer review: "Charlie (the beagle) has been playing with his squirrel log non-stop since it arrived. We are pretty pleased, considering he usually destroys a new toy within 5-10 minutes. The only down side is that the little critters inside the log aren't very sturdy; he destroyed one in about 60 seconds when I looked away." —Ali
Buy now: ZippyPaws Woodland Friends Burrow Dog Toys, $12.99
17. Like A Peanut Butter Kong, Just Easier to Clean
Bottom line: Of all the dog puzzle toys on this list, this one is the best option for dogs with anxiety. It's an alternative to slow feeder bowls and other treat toys that encourages natural licking behavior.
The action of repetitive licking has been shown to calm separation anxiety and stress. If your dog freaks out while you're at work, this mat is a perfect way to help your dog zone out and stay calm.
Just spread peanut butter, pumpkin, yogurt, or Hyper Pet IQ's treat spread onto the mat, and let your dog lick his cares away.
Customer review: "Wish I found this sooner! My mini Aussie LOVES it. He is great at games and treat motivated games, and this is the only thing that takes him more than 2 seconds to finish. I put a small amount of peanut butter on each square and he licked it for a good 15 min. Can’t wait to use when I leave for work." —Andrew
Buy now: Hyper Pet IQ Treat Mat, $14.95
18. This One Looks Challenging Even for People
Bottom line: Seriously smart pups need seriously tricky toys. The Flip Board puppy puzzle is one of several puzzle toys by Trixie.
You can hide treats under multiple different types of puzzle compartments, and the toy's rubber base keeps it from sliding around during play.
Because of the toy includes small components, it's best to supervise your dog during play sessions.
Customer review: "Pugs are nature's D student. They have a lot of heart and a lot of cute, but generally not a lot of smart. On the first day, my little Puggy spent about 10 minutes trying to figure out how to get the treats out of this thing. It's pretty sturdy considering Puggy tried to dig her way to China through this toy." —Wayne B
Buy now: Trixie Dog Activity Flip Board, Level 2, $13.99
19. A Dog Puzzle Toy for Dogs That Love Seafood
Bottom line: It's like sushi, only for dogs and without the smell. This puzzle feeder is meant more for serving treats than entire meals.
Dogs must slide the pieces of sushi around to uncover the secret treats hidden in the track below.
Customer review: "Just came today and gotta say - it’s terrific. My chihuahua just loves it. This bento dog treat slider is beautifully made. Highest quality I’ve seen in a dog toy." —Gonzalez
Buy now: OurPets Waffle and Sushi Interactive Puzzle Game, $14.95
20. No List of Dog Puzzle Toys Is Complete Without a Kong
Bottom line: Kong toys have long been a favorite toy brand for large dog breeds and heavy chewers. This dog puzzle toy, however, is meant less for chewing and more for mental gymnastics.
It flips over as it rolls and dispenses treats along the way to keep pets amused for hours. It comes in two sizes, too.
Just be aware that if your dog loves to chew, this one probably won't hold up as well as the original Kong.
Customer review: "I love any kibble toy that isn't just a simple, round ball. The addition of the disc around the ball definitely increases the challenge for all of my 3 pups. It holds a good amount of kibble, I like to add a few stinky training treats to make it extra special before leaving for work." —Elizabeth Creger
Buy now: Kong Gyro Interactive Treat Dispensing Dog Toy, $11.99
21. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
Bottom line: Some dogs aren't motivated to hunt for treats unless they can see them.
This treat toy for small dogs and puppies has openings that are large enough to view treats, but not so large that they fall out without lots of effort.
Best of all, it's made to carry up to three small Milk-Bone biscuits at a time.
Customer review: “My little dog loves this toy! I don't give him MilkBones very often, so it's a special treat for him. He was so excited!
It's easy to insert treats into the toy, and the toy comes with 4 treats so you can try it out.” — Megan
Buy now: Milk-Bone Active Dog Treat Dispenser Dog Toy, $11.32