The 14 Best Puzzle Toys for Bored Dogs

The 14 Best Puzzle Toys for Bored Dogs

Banish boredom from your dog's life with these clever puzzle toys. Your pooch will be mentally stimulated, physically active, and a lot less likely to destroy your home.

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Why are puzzle toys so good for dogs?

Little dog at home in the living room playing with his toysTeamDAF/Shutterstock

Dogs may seem content to lounge around for a good portion of the day, and they are. But for the rest of the time, they need to be mentally stimulated. Just like humans, dogs get bored, and you know what they say about idle hands—er, paws. When dogs are bored, they tend to act out by doing things like destroying your shoes, your pillows, and whatever else looks interesting around your house.

That's where puzzle toys come in. What are they? Pretty much what they sound like: toys that your dog has to figure out in order to get a reward, usually a treat. But not all puzzle toys are right for all dogs, says Tammy Helzer, DVM, a veterinarian at the Humane Society of the White Mountains. Both the breed and age of your pup will play a role in determining what's best, and it may take a little trial and error. (And don't simply go for the brightest puzzle toy, since dogs don't see colors the same way we do.)

Dr. Helzer says that puzzle toys are particularly beneficial for dogs who live in an apartment without a yard or who don't have the opportunity for a lot of playtime. But all of them need to be stimulated both physically and mentally, which is just one of the things your dog wishes you knew. That said, younger dogs will need more physical activity than older ones. And herding breeds, like Border Collies and Australian Shepherds, have the most energy, so they need the most stimulating toys. So, what should you choose? We rounded up the best puzzle toys for dogs of all ages, sizes, lifestyles, and personalities so you can find the right one for your furry BFF.

Puzzle brick toy

puzzle brick dog toyvia


The Ottoson puzzle brick dog toy by Outward Hound is great for exercising your dog's mind. It has three different treat-feeding features, which use open-close flip compartments and removable bone puzzle pieces. Emma Grigg, PhD, a certified applied animal behaviorist and lecturer at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, says this level-two treat puzzle is a more challenging puzzle toy—one that a beginner pooch can graduate to over time. Just how smart is your dog? Here's how to tell.

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