• Smart Bark

Top 10 Puzzle Toys for Dogs : Interactive Fun

Updated: 7 hours ago

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Looking for ways to keep your dog entertained? Investing in a good quality dog puzzle toy could be the answer.


Stimulation from toys can not only prevent dog boredom, but also promotes your dog’s personality and can really help to reduce canine stress levels and anxiety.

Dog laying with a Squirrel Dog Puzzle Toy

Dog puzzles or enrichment toys as they're otherwise known, have been designed to exercise your dog's brain, provide endless opportunities for learning and amazingly can tire them as much as a dog walk. So why not add a cool new interactive dog puzzle toy to your collection.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

How to Choose the Best Puzzle Toy for your Dog

The Best Dog Puzzles you can Buy Today

Tips for Using Dog Puzzle Toys



How to Choose the Best Puzzle Toy for your Dog


Interactive toys are very different from other dog toys. They are not for chewing, chasing or fetching, they are primarily aimed at learning and concentration.


At Smart Bark we're always on the look out for new and interesting dog toys. This TOP 10 includes the best interactive dog puzzles sorted into three difficulty categories. This should help you provide maximum enrichment for your dog, regardless of their problem solving skills. Here’s our roundup of the Best Puzzle Toys for Dogs the UK has to offer in 2022.


Easy - Snuffle Mat for Dogs, Dig It Fluffy Mat, Lickimat


Intermediate - Bob-A-Lot, Hide a Squirrel, Nina Ottosson 'Dog Smart'


Difficult - Nina Ottosson 'Worker' , 'Twister', Treat & Train Remote Reward, Trixie Dog Memory Trainer




The Best Dog Puzzle Toys you can Buy Today


If you're looking for something simple, to keep your dog or puppy occupied whilst engaging their brain and making them work harder for their food, here are some easy, entry level puzzles.



1. IFOYO Dog Snuffle Mat

Best for scent training


Hunting for food provides excellent physical and mental stimulation for your dog.


There are several snuffle mats on the market which offer an opportunity for your pooch to hone their sense of smell, keep them occupied and slow down their eating at the same time.

dog with a snuffle mat looking for hidden treats

Simply hiding their kibble or dry treats in the snuffle mat provides an ideal opportunity for your pooch to use their brain during their dinner time.


We recommend the IFOYO snuffle mat for keeping your dog busy. This well designed mat, has multiple layers of fabric to make hiding the treats easy.


What's more, it has two straps to attach to a chair or stool leg which stops it from sliding around your kitchen floor.


It's durable and has survived a couple of years of regular use. As you can see, Freddie adores his snuffle mat and it can be thrown in the washing machine every now and then to keep it clean.


Reasons to Buy

+ Great value

+ Simple puzzle

+ Machine washable

Reasons to Avoid

- Quick to solve

- Not suitable for wet treats


2. Dig It Fluffy Mat

Next level snuffle mat


What dog doesn't love to dig in the garden? This adorable interactive treat toy by All For Paws is designed to replicate a miniature garden with pots, flowers and a soft toy.

dog licking a classic kong dog toy

This snuffle mat takes the hugely popular basic snuffle mat to the next level.


It's designed to include multiple textures and different elements to keep your dog intrigued and busy for hours.


A beautiful and stylish snuffle mat, perfect for hiding dry kibble or treats to provide a basic challenge element.


It's a great introduction to dog puzzle toys as it doesn't involve a huge amount of strategy and the result is immediate.


This mat measures 52cm X 76cm.

Reasons to Buy

+ Simple puzzle

+ Includes soft toy

+ Machine washable

Reasons to Avoid

- Pricier than basic snuffle mat

- Quick to solve


3. Lickimats for Dogs

Ultimate boredom buster


LickiMats are a simple, cheap yet innovative idea to keep your dog entertained.


Acting as a boredom buster, LickiMats are principally a patterned rubbermat designed to spread your dog’s favourite treat or food on.

cockapoo with a lickimat topped with yoghurt and strawberries

Lick mats for dogs are a tasty and fun game for your dog as they work around the mat to seek out every last titbit with their tongue.


But their benefits don't stop there!


These mats were originally designed by Vets in Australia to promote calm behaviour especially in stressful times such as being left on their own or during fireworks.


We found that Lickimats can really help if you are working on separation anxiety with young dogs and puppies as they offer a great distraction.


We reviewed the different styles of LickiMats available, their benefits, uses and some great food topping recipes.


Reasons to Buy

+ Simple puzzle

+ Promotes calm behaviour

+ Simple distraction

+ Tough versions now available

Reasons to Avoid

- Only works with food

If you searching for something to stretch your dog, an intermediate dog puzzle will be perfect. There are often ways you can make these puzzles simpler or more complicated to suit your dog and of course you can adapt them as they improve.



4. Bob-A-Lot Dog Puzzle

Best for treat based rewards


Starmark has been the world leader in pet education for over a decade, with award-winning training and behaviour tools developed by experts.

dog playing with Starmark Bob-a-lot dog toy

This interactive, dog puzzle toy is aptly named the Bob-A-Lot.


Fill the toy with your dog’s favorite treat, or if they eat kibble you could put their whole meal inside.


Adjust the openings to make it easier or more difficult to release the food and you're all set.


It bobbles and wobbles around the floor on it's weighted base and as your dog nudges with their nose and paws, it releases treats from the two chambers.


It's worth noting that it's a great option for feeding your dog as it works as a slow feeders by increasing the time it takes your dog to consume their food.


It's easy-to-fill and importantly easy to clean. Available in two sizes.


Reasons to Buy

+ Simple puzzle

+ Acts as a slow feeder

Reasons to Avoid

- Moves around floor

- Heavy base

RELATED READ

Whilst you're here, if you're looking for some healthy training treats to use with these puzzle toys, take a look at our Top 5 Puppy Training Treats article. All the 5 treats featured are suitable for dogs of all ages as well as puppies.



5. Hide a Squirrel Dog Puzzle

Great intermediate challenge toy


Dogs love to chase a squirrel although I'm not sure they'd know what to do if they managed to catch one! Here's a soft toy version of your dog's favourite pastime.

Dog with a Hide a squirrel dog puzzle toy

Simply stuff the squeaky squirrels in the tree trunk tube, and watch as your dog pull them out one by one.


It’s challenging as your dog needs to learn to nuzzle into each hole and pull their prized stuffed squirrel out.


All in all, it's a beautifully designed and well made soft puzzle toy toy available in four different sizes to suit a range of dogs.


We found the medium size toy which measures approx. 17 x 15 cm and includes 3 squirrels, provides just the right engagement without losing their interest.


It's a great option if you are searching for a non-food based puzzle toy.


Reasons to Buy

+ Different sizes available

+ Well designed

Reasons to Avoid

- Not treat driven

- Squirrels squeak!


6. Nina Ottosson Dog Smart

Interactive hide and seek game


The last intermediate level dog puzzle to feature is from Nina Ottosson.

Nina Ottosson dog smart puzzle toy level 1

The first thing to say is that Nina Ottosson puzzles are extremely popular and well constructed, ranging from easy to 'Einstein' level.


The Dog Smart is an entry level 'Hide & Seek' style dog challenge. As a Level 1 dog puzzle it's useful for introducing your dog to the puzzle toy concept.


You simply cover the treats and your pooch learns to sniff them out and remove the covers.


We chose this particular Nina Ottosson toy as it can hold wet food as well as kibble. A perfect option if your picky pooch isn't enticed or rewarded by dry kibble.


It's worth noting that the Dog Smart puzzle includes loose parts which can easily get chewed or lost under the sofa, so you'll definitely need to monitor your dog's play.


Reasons to Buy

+ Works with wet food too

+ Well designed

Reasons to Avoid

- Loose parts


For more experienced dogs or those who need a challenge!


7. Nina Ottosson Worker Puzzle

Best challenging dog puzzle


Many of Nina Ottosson's puzzles can be can be set to differing levels of complexity, to satisfy all ages and levels of dogs.

Nina Ottosson Dog Puzzle, difficulty level 3

This 'Worker' dog puzzle has sliding mechanisms and requires your dog to work through a series of sequential steps to release the hidden treats.


Clearly this is a level 3 (difficult) puzzle, so you may need to initially break it down into smaller steps.


We love this puzzle because it offers you a degree of flexibility on just how difficult you want to make it.


Ultimately this keeps the puzzle interesting as your dog improves with puzzle toys.


Better still, as all the working components slide, they stay attached to the puzzle so there are no loose pieces to misplace.


Reasons to Buy

+ Well designed

+ No loose pieces

Reasons to Avoid

- More difficult to master



8. Nina Ottosson Dog Twister

Best for canine einsteins


The third and final dog puzzle toy from the Nina Ottosson stable.

Nina ottosson dog twister activity toy level 3

This particular design, the Dog Twister, is a level 3 game so is recommended for more challenging play.


The idea behind the Dog Twister is for your dog to slide the top covers to access the treats hidden inside.


If your dog is good at solving puzzles, you can further challenge them by simply pushing in the white handles to lock some bricks on top.

The Dog Twister is made from tough plastic so not only can you use it for wet or even frozen treats, it's dishwasher proof too.


Reasons to Buy

+ Well designed

+ Provides a challenge

Reasons to Avoid

- Difficult to master

- Loose pieces



9. Treat & Train Remote Reward

Perfect for solo training


If you love a bit of tech to help with your training, then this is definitely the dog interactive gadget for you.

Treat & Train Remote Reward

The PetSafe Treat and Train rewards your dog for repeating the behaviour you are looking to encourage.


You are in control of remotely releasing a snack as a reward.


It's a great tool for more advanced 'send away' commands if you're training on your own, but can equally add some real fun to simpler training sessions.

The pack includes an helpful DVD, handheld remote, target wand and training guide to help you master using the Treat and Train.


There are great reviews and ratings by dog owners and a video to watch so you can see the concept in action.


Reasons to Buy

+ If you love gadgets

+ Useful for solo training sessions

Reasons to Avoid

- Expensive puzzle toy


10. Trixie Dog Memory Trainer

Best for gadget lovers


If you think your pooch is Einstein, then this is definitely the dog puzzle toy for them!

Trixie memory trainer game for dogs