What Interactive Puzzle Toys Are Best for Your Dog?

Published: April 19, 2024
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Some dogs are great alone while others need the constant company of their "pack." If your dog is home alone while you're out and about, they can get bored and anxious. Interactive puzzle toys for dogs provide plenty of mental stimulation to keep them occupied.

What Is an Interactive Puzzle Toy for Dogs?

An interactive puzzle toy for dogs presents a challenge. Inside is something the dog wants very much, such as a treat or a toy. Your pet needs to apply problem-solving skills to get the reward. She'll have to perform simple tasks, such as sliding bricks, lifting blocks, or pushing buttons to get what she wants.

The design of these toys makes it difficult for your dog to find the solution. After all, a puzzle that doesn't take a while to solve isn't much fun. However, a puzzle that is too difficult is no fun either, and these interactive puzzle toys are within your dog's capability to solve. Solving the puzzle to get the treat provides positive reinforcement that rewards your pet's efforts. As your dog makes progress, he may be encouraged by a sound or smell that spurs him to keep going.

What Are the Benefits of Interactive Puzzle Toys for Dogs?

Interactive puzzle toys offer dogs many benefits. They give your dog something to concentrate on. If you are busy doing household chores and want to keep your dog out from under your feet, you can give her a puzzle toy to distract her while you are busy elsewhere.

Your dog can get bored if they're alone. He may amuse himself with destructive behaviors, such as chewing furniture. An interactive puzzle toy gives him a constructive outlet through which to channel his excess energy. Puzzle toys often require your dog to perform physical tasks. When your dog plays with a puzzle toy, he is exercising his body to some extent as well as his mind.

Dogs are social animals that live in packs in the wild. Your family essentially becomes your pet's pack. Some dogs develop separation anxiety when they are home alone all day without their people. Giving your dog a puzzle toy before you leave the house provides something else to think about besides her worry about being home alone.

Dogs can become anxious for many reasons. Loud noises and other stressful situations can bother them. An interactive puzzle toy can distract your dog from a stressful situation and help him relax.

Because interactive puzzle toys provide mental stimulation, they can make it easier to train your pet by relaxing her and priming her to use her brain and learn something new. It is much more difficult to train a bored dog.

In the wild, dogs have to hunt or scavenge for their food and eat quickly before another animal steals it. For this reason, some domestic dogs gobble their food too quickly, which can make them sick. A feeding mat is a special kind of interactive puzzle toy that requires dogs to locate their food by smell as they would in the wild. It engages your pet's hunting instincts and also forces him to slow down while he eats.

In many cases, your dog will play with an interactive puzzle toy on her own. However, there are also toys that allow you to join in the fun and bond with your dog. For example, the Hide-N-Squeaks Dog Toy Triad by Hyper Pet is a fetch toy that bounces in irregular patterns when you throw it, keeping your pet on her toes.

How Do You Choose an Interactive Puzzle Toy for Your Dog?

Before giving your dog an interactive puzzle toy, there are a couple of things you need to take into consideration. One is your dog's size. While many toys are one size fits all, some come in different sizes. For example, this Himalayan Bonehead Dog Treat Holder comes in both a large and small size. They are color-coded for your convenience, with the blue toy being larger and the purple toy being smaller.

Another thing to consider is your dog's age. If your pet is still a puppy, a hard chew toy may hurt his baby teeth. You may want to consider a soft plush puzzle toy instead. For example, this Fruity Critterz toy from HugSmart features a soft frog with a squeaker hidden inside a plush coconut shell.

You also need to consider your pet's preferences. For example, many dogs are motivated by food, and if your pet is one, you may want to consider a treat-dispensing toy. Some of these toys have holes in the top or sides to allow the treats to spill out if your dog tips it at just the right angle.

The KONG Tikr Dog Toy has a timer that causes the holes to rotate automatically as it rolls around. This causes the treats to spill out at random intervals.

However, some dogs are more interested in toys than food. For example, the Hide-A-Squirrel plush dog toy from Outward Hound consists of three squeaky squirrel toys that you can hide inside their plush tree trunk. The challenge is getting the squirrels out of their hiding place, then your dog can chew and play to her heart's content.

If you are going to leave your dog alone with a puzzle toy, make sure it is sturdy, with no small parts that could break off and cause a choking hazard.

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