Why Dog Puzzle Toys Are so Great!
Whether your dog is an obedience champion or a chilled couch-lover (or maybe both at the same time); almost all canines will love the best dog puzzle toys.
All dogs need to run around and spend some of their physical energy, but they also need to use their brain through mental stimulation! Puzzle toys are a fantastic way to do this as your dog needs to think to solve the issue – often involving a treat in the end!
Our Writer’s Pick For The Best Dog Puzzle Toy
We all want to keep our favorite four-legged friends happy and healthy. Providing plenty of mental stimulation is one of the essential parts of this – and sometimes a slightly overlooked part! That’s why dog puzzle toys are such a great addition to any household with a dog, and my personal favorite today is the Penerl Slow Feeder Interactive Dog Bowl (Best overall!)
Here’s the best dog puzzle toy that will not just slow your dog down, it will also make it necessary for your dog to use its brain, providing it with almost endless fun and mental stimulation.
It is also cleverly designed with non-toxic plastic and non-slip pads; it makes it even easier to have in the house!
But there were plenty of other great choices out there, so take a read below and see which one is your (and your dog’s) favorite canine toy!
Our Top Rated Dog Puzzle Toys–A Quick Overview
- Nina Ottosson Interactive Puzzle – (Best for the really clever dogs)
- Icwin Automatic Interactive Dog feeder – (Best automatic dispenser)
- BellaBoo Interactive toy – (Best for the strong chewer)
- AWOOF Pet Snuffle Mat – (Best snuffle mat for the small dogs)
- Outward Hound Hide a Squirrel – (Best for the dog that loves squeaky toys)
- Topand Snuffle Mat – (Best snuffle mat)
- HIPPIH Interactive Dog Toys for Treats – (Best for puppies!)
- TARVOS Dog Puzzle Toy – (Best for small and medium dogs)
- OurPets Waffle & Sushi Interactive Puzzle – (Best for the dog that loves a challenge)
- Dog Chew Suction Cup – (Best for the dog that loves pulling games)
- Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball – (Best for medium ball-loving dogs)
The Best Dog Puzzle Toys of 2021 Reviewed
Nina Ottosson Interactive Puzzle – Best for the really clever dogs
Amazon’s Choice for ‘dog puzzle toys’
Ease of playing: Difficult
This boredom buster dog toy will keep even the clever dog occupied for a while. Your dog will need to use its nose to sniff out any treats hidden in the compartments and then flip, lift or slide the hatches to get access to them. You can hide almost any dog training treats in the toy, and it is suitable for dogs of all sizes – although puppies may struggle with the difficulty.
The puzzle toy is made from safe plastic materials that are BPA and PVC-free and can easily be cleaned with warm water and soap whenever your dog isn’t playing with it. It is 12,75 x 8,75 inches and weighs 1.2 pounds.
Although the puzzle toy is quite durable, it is not indestructible, so don’t let your dog play with it unsupervised.
The dog puzzle toy is made ready for your dog by lifting and sliding the movable pieces and placing treats or food inside. It can hold up to one cup of kibble or treats, which can be used as a slow feeder for smaller dogs. Or for larger dogs, then you just need to refill it.
Is the toy dishwasher safe?
No, this dog puzzle toy is not dishwasher safe; you should only rinse it with warm, soapy water.
Can it be used with small dogs?
Yes, the pieces are lightweight and are easy to flip, lift and slide, meaning even the smallest of dogs should be able to enjoy this toy.
Can this toy be used with “aggressive chewers”?
Your dog should not use this dog puzzle toy without human supervision as a strong dog can destroy it. Owners need to be present to show the dog how it works and the “rules,” which include ‘no chewing.’
- Encourages positive play habits by redirecting destructive behavior.
- You can use it for dogs of all sizes and ages.
- Made from food-safe materials to ensure your dog stays happy and healthy at all times.
Penerl Slow Feeder Interactive Dog Bowl – Best overall!
Ease of playing: Difficult
If you have a clever dog and a speedy eater, then this puzzle toy would be perfect for them! Here your dog will need to slide the eight panels around in the circle to access the food, forcing it to slow down AND use its brain. Even though it is made for food, you can use it with any dog treats, and it is suitable for small and medium dogs – or even cats!
The round interactive dog puzzle slow feeder is made from a non-toxic plastic material and is 9.44 inches in diameter, with non-slip pads on the bottom to ensure it stays in place even if your dog gets extra excited! The durable feeder is easy to clean with soap and water after use, and its lovely blue colors should never fade!
No toy is indestructible. Neither is this one. Don’t let your dog play with this unsupervised. If you have a huge and strong dog that may be destructive, this dog puzzle toy may not be suitable for it.
Get the puzzle toy ready for your dog (or cat) by placing food or treats in some of the 14 holes and covering them with the sliding panels. At first, you may need to help your dog to learn how to slide the panels around!
Is this suitable for all dogs?
If your dog is interested in finding its food, this toy is ideal for your dog – or even your cat!
How long should it take the dog to solve?
It very much depends on the dog’s innate sense of smell and intelligence. Some dogs solve it very fast, whereas most dogs take 20 minutes to get all the treats out.
Can the toy be used for large breeds?
Large and giant breeds may struggle to get their noses into the holes and move the sliders around.
- Great for getting your pet to slow down when eating.
- Non-slip pads to keep it in place (which can also be bought separately if necessary)
- Easy-to-move sliders for easy cleaning
Icwin Automatic Interactive Dog feeder – Best automatic dispenser
Easy of playing: Easy
This is a multifunctional automatic slow feeder! The dog needs to press the button on the top, and a small amount of food will fall out randomly in four directions. This toy will mentally stimulate your dog while also slowing it down.
It is suitable for any size dog, as long as they’re big enough to be able to press the button. It should only hold dry kibble, less than 0.45 inches in diameter.
The automatic feeder is made from safe styrene and is easy to disassemble and clean. It is 6.7 x 7.3 x 6.6 inches big and weighs a total of 34.22 ounces. Luckily, it comes with four suction cups at the bottom to keep it in place. However, you should only use it on smooth wooden floors or tiles.
This toy isn’t easy to chew up or disassemble without a screwdriver, meaning most dogs shouldn’t be able to destroy it. There are no guarantees, though; some dogs are more persistent than others, so keep an eye on your furry friend the first few times they use it.
Remove the yellow lid on top and place the kibble inside (remember to check that the kibble is small enough to get out of the holes). Show your dog how it works and watch your dog learn something completely new when they realize “tapping button” = food!
Is it suitable for cats?
Some cats may learn to press the button. If they do, then this toy is also for them to enjoy!
Is it dishwasher proof?
No, you should clean it with warm water and soap.
Will it slow dogs down?
It should slow down even the fastest eater out there!
- Your dog can play with this toy unsupervised.
- It’s a great way to ensure your dog gets its food slowly while being stimulated. Just remember to ensure that your dog is eating enough if it gets bored with the toy.
- Can hold enough food for the whole day.
BellaBoo Interactive toy – Best for the strong chewers
Ease of playing: Easy
Here’s another multifunctional puzzle perfect for medium and large dogs with a strong jaw. Here your dog needs to chew and roll the ‘hedgehog’ around to access the treats or kibble hidden inside, or chew on it to get wet food out from the top textured quills! But, as if the fun wasn’t enough, the toy also has a texture that helps with teeth cleaning!
This interactive hedgehog is made to last, especially for tough chewers, made from durable, non-toxic, and all-natural rubber. It is perfect for medium and large breeds at nine ounces and 5.12 x 4.23 inches big, but small teething puppies may also enjoy it! You can clean it with warm water and soap.
This toy is nearly indestructible, or as close as we can get, and can be used both indoor and outdoor.
You can place the treats or kibble inside the hollow toy, and the dog will need to chew on it to get them to fall out. You can, however, also place wet food on top of the spikes to encourage teeth cleaning and chewing.
How to clean the inside?
Let the toy soak in warm, soapy water, and the interior should be easy to wipe clean.
Do the treats fall out easily?
Usually, the treats shouldn’t just fall out; the hedgehog will need to be shaken first.
Can small dogs use it?
Although the puzzle toy is intended for larger dogs, small dogs can still move the toy around and enjoy the puzzling effect of getting the treats out.
- Tough and durable.
- Toothbrush and puzzle in one!
- Made from safe and natural materials.
AWOOF Pet Snuffle Mat – Best snuffle mat for the small dogs
Ease of playing: Easy
This cute-looking mat is a unique way to allow your dog to use its incredible sense of smell to search out treats hidden in the folds and “grass” of the mat. You can use it for any dog breed at any age, but it is only suitable for dry treats or kibble. As you can fold the feeding mat into a bowl, it should also work brilliantly at slowing down your fast-eating dog!
The feeding mat is made from environmentally friendly felt cloth, with a non-slip design on the bottom to keep it in place and a belt for adjustment and easy storage. The best bit so far? The AWOOF snuffle mat is machine washable, and it is recommended that you wash it once a week.
A persistent dog could be capable of ruining the felt, but generally, most users report that the snuffling mat is durable. Guarantee: If you are not satisfied with the feeding snuffle mat, you can contact the manufacturer
The snuffle mat can be used in two ways, either as a “bowl” to hide the food in or as a mat to hide treats. Your dog should, either way, quickly grasp the concept.
Will it work for cats?
With some cat-treats in there, lots of cats could also love “hunting” for food in the felt mat.
Can you put it in the dryer?
Users report that you can dry it in a dryer, but the manufacturer recommends air-drying.
How much kibble can it hold?
It depends on the size of the kibble, of course, but it should fit between one to two cups of kibble and still be able to hide it.
- Encourages natural foraging skills.
- Machine washable.
- Light and easy to transport
Outward Hound Hide a Squirrel – Best for the dog that loves squeaky toys
Amazon’s Choice for ‘dog squirrel toys’
Ease of playing: Easy
If you are looking for an interactive way to activate your dog’s natural hunting instincts while providing entertainment, then this is it. It is suitable for any breed of any age, as it is soft and easy for the teeth – even puppies can participate. Just be aware that the tossing of squeaky toys can cause more stress than stress release with some dogs, so don’t play for hours on end.
The tree trunk and the squirrels are made from plush material, and the largest trunk is 13 x 8 inches big. It is made from plush and can be destroyed when playing too rough, but Outward Hound makes their plush toys with durable materials and bindings, meaning it is intended for long-lasting play.
Place the squirrels inside the tree trunk and toss them to encourage your dog’s natural hunting instincts.
Can you get replacement squirrels?
Yes, you can buy replacement packs of squirrels.
Is it suitable for chewing?
This toy is made to be played with, not long-term chewing.
What’s inside the squirrels?
Plush filling and a squeaky whistle.
- You can buy it in different sizes.
- Tough plush material.
- Most dogs are likely to enjoy the “hunting” of the small squirrels.
Topand Snuffle Mat – Best snuffle mat
Ease of playing: Easy
This is another dog feeding mat that encourages your dog’s natural forage abilities when you hide treats and kibble in and around it. It is perfect as a slow-feeder as even the most determined dog will need to slow down and is suitable for dogs of all ages and breeds.
The mat is made from high-quality felt and cloth, with a non-slip design underneath that effectively holds it in place. The lightweight design and the functional lanyard also mean it is easy to store and transport. In addition, it is machine washable, which is also a huge bonus!
Any dog, and even cats and potbelly pigs, can enjoy this mat, but solid and adamant chewers can destroy some fabric. Remember, it is a feeding mat, not a chew toy, so make sure to supervise your dog when using it. If you have any issues, the manufacturer has a Seller Service that will respond and help within one business day.
Simply place treats and kibbles all over the mat, hiding them in the little folds and components for almost endless fun for your four-legged friend.
Is it difficult for dogs to find food?
It depends on how scent-driven your dog is. Some dogs may spend longer trying to find all the treats, with some dogs being more likely to “give up.”
Is it easy to clean?
It is machine washable – bonus!
Will it slow down a fast-eating dog?
Yes, it is a great way to slow down a dog who loves to gulp down its food too fast.
- Encourage dog’s natural forage instincts
- Mental and physical exercise.
- Easy to transport
HIPPIH Interactive Dog Toys for Treats – Best for puppies
Ease of playing: Easy
If your dog is a ball-lover, this is probably the puzzle toy for you. With a two-for-one special, you get an IQ ball and a teething ball. Simply place treats, kibbles, or even wet food inside the IQ ball and watch your dog push it around the house to get the goodies out.
With the teething ball, you can put wet food on it to encourage chewing – and teeth cleaning! Both balls are made from 100% non-toxic and durable, natural silicone rubber with a mint flavor – for a better breath.
The IQ ball is 3.14 inches in diameter, and the teething ball is 2.75 inches. Both are durable, even with big dogs, and easy to clean with warm water and soap.
Be aware that the hole in the IQ ball is only 0.3 inches, meaning the kibble should be smaller than this. Otherwise, it will get stuck inside the ball.
Will the dog need to be supervised?
Watching your dog while playing is always recommended, but generally, both toys are sturdy and unlikely to break and hurt your dog.
Can you throw the balls?
Yes, both balls are perfect for throwing if your furry friend needs a bit more encouragement.
Can you put it in the dishwasher?
Although the manufacturer does not recommend it, several users report putting them in the dishwasher without issues.
- Provides intelligence training, fun, and teeth cleaning.
- Helps slow down fast eaters.
- Comes with a mint scent for fresh breath.
TARVOS Dog Puzzle Toy – Best for small and medium dogs
Ease of playing: Intermediate
This is a slow feeder for the clever ones. Your dog will need to rotate the top piece to get the food to fall out from the leak holes. It is especially great for small and medium adult dogs, as larger dogs may topple the feeder.
As the dispenser slows down how fast your dog can access the food, it is perfect as a slow feeder – with the maze underneath providing even more fun!
The food dispenser is made from durable and non-toxic plastic and has an adjustable height from 7.1 to 10.6 inches in size, making it suitable for lots of different breeds. It is made from plastic and is not remarkably stable, but gentle dogs shouldn’t have any issues. The plastic is, however, easy to clean!
The construction may topple but should not break from being turned over. As a bonus, Tarvos comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee! The whole thing is easy to use; simply place the kibble or treats inside the rotating dispenser – just remember that the kibble should be smaller than 0.6 inches.
How will my dog learn to use it?
Start by showing your dog that when the dispenser is touched, food comes out. Most dogs should start getting it after a few tries.
Is it suitable for cats?
Most users report that their cat showed no interest in this toy, but some cats may.
How much food will it hold?
Roughly one cup of dry kibble.
- Most dogs would find this difficult at first, providing your dog with plenty of stimulation.
- Promotes healthy eating.
- 100% satisfaction guarantee.
OurPets Waffle & Sushi Interactive Puzzle – Best for the dog that loves a challenge
Amazon’s Choice in Dog Slow Feeders
Ease of playing: Difficult
Suppose you want to exercise your dog’s brain while slow feeding it significantly. This is the best dog puzzle toy for you! Your dog will need to use its paws or nose to slide the “sushi” pieces away to reveal food or treats underneath. Suitable for dogs of all sizes and even cats. In theory, puppies can also use it but may struggle with the difficulty.
The 9.25 x 10.83 inches big toy is made from high-quality and durable plastic, made to withstand pets. It is also easy to clean with warm, soapy water and the clever design makes it fun for both your pet and you.
Even though it is reasonably sturdy without lots of loose parts your dog may be able to chew, it should still only be used under the supervision of a human.
Get the puzzle toy ready for your dog by placing the food under the slider, slide to cover it, and then encourage your dog to attempt to find the hidden treats.
Can the sushi pieces be removed for cleaning?
Unfortunately, you cannot remove the sushi pieces.
Is plastic BPA free?
How much kibble will it hold?
It should be able to hold roughly one cup of dry kibble food.
- Perfect for the clever dogs.
- Will slow down even the most determined eater.
- You can use it for cats and dogs.
Dog Chew Suction Cup – Best for the dog that loves pulling games
Ease of playing: Easy
Here’s a three-in-one deal with a chew toy that cleans the teeth, freshens the breath, and dispenses food! At the end of the rope, the dog puzzle can be stuffed with food to encourage playing and as a slow feeding option for dogs of all sizes and breeds. Just be aware that large dogs may be able to rip off the suction cup.
The whole toy is made from thermoplastic rubber, making it easy to clean and exceptionally durable. The dispensing ball is 4.21 inches in diameter, enough to hold quite a bit of kibble or treats!
Although it is made from durable materials, quite a few users have reported that strong dogs and chewers may be able to destroy the suction cup or the rope relatively fast. Meaning it is a good idea to supervise your dog at the beginning with this toy.
Before using, you need to clean the suction cup and the floor where you intend to place it. Then, moisten the cup and squeeze the air out when placing it on the floor. Works best on a smooth and flat surface.
Is it suitable for puppies?
Yes, the puzzle toy can be used for puppies and is great for teething.
Is it suitable for all breeds?
In theory, yes, all breeds can play with this toy. But, some dogs may not be interested in the “pulling game.”
Does the suction cup work on all surfaces?
On all flat and smooth surfaces, yes, not suitable for carpets or glass surfaces, however.
- Perfect for the dog who loves pulling games!
- Easy for all dogs to get the hang of.
- Teeth cleaning and mental stimulation
Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball – Best for medium ball-loving dogs
Ease of playing: Easy – intermediate
As the ball comes in two different sizes, it is suitable for small, medium, and large dogs of all ages – it can even be used as a slow feeder with dry kibble! Not ideal for toy dogs, though!
The ball is made from plastic and weighs only 0.15 pounds, meaning this puzzle toy is not suitable for aggressive chewers that may attempt to get the food out in an unconventional way. It is, however, easy to clean as you can open it with a screwdriver!
Precaution: Some users have described that their dogs lodged their jaws in one of the treat delivery holes. If you are in any way worried this may be possible for your small dog, you should never leave your dog unsupervised with this puzzle toy.
Simply place the kibble inside the ball and adjust to the desired difficulty level. In the beginning, you may need to show your dog how to push the ball around, but most should get it soon after that!
How much food can it hold?
It depends on the difficulty level, but roughly ½ cup of food.
How should it be cleaned?
Use warm water and soap; the dishwasher may break it.
Why isn’t it suitable for small toy dogs?
There’s some anecdotal evidence that small dogs may get their jaw stuck in the treat holes, which is why it is only suitable for dogs more than 10 lbs.
- Adjustable difficulty levels.
- It opens for cleaning and filling.
- Suitable for large cats as well
I Love Veterinary’s Favourite Dog Puzzle Toy
It is usually relatively easy to choose a favorite amongst many products – I simply tend to go for the one I know I would buy for my dog! But, this time, there were so many great ones, and in the end, the best dog puzzle toy for you is the one your dog wants to play with!
I will say it repeatedly; mental stimulation is one of the most overlooked and most important parts of owning a dog. It doesn’t matter if you got a poodle like mine that will work for days on end or a more relaxed and sleepy couch-partner; mental stimulation is key to a happy dog.
So, if your dog loves sniffing, playing with balls, pulling, or sliding panels, there’s a best dog puzzle toy out there for you and your best friend!
Catharina is a Veterinary Medicine student from Uni of Copenhagen. When she isn’t making camp in the library, stuck to the books, she’s also a writer and avid photographer. Capturing everything from buildings to dogs – especially her poodle Bailey is a frequent subject.