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Home > Dogs > 9 Best Dog Puzzle Toys in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

9 Best Dog Puzzle Toys in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

white dog playing puzzle toy

Puzzle toys are a great way to keep your dog entertained while you’re out or to buy you a few blessed minutes of relief from a playful pup. From the basic treat dispensing ball, which dispenses a piece of kibble or other treat when your dog rolls it, to more complex lift and slide puzzles with a number of treat-dispensing opportunities and different difficulty levels, there are toys to suit all ages, intelligence levels, and toy preferences.

Below, you can find reviews of the best dog puzzle toys to keep you and your dog happy. At the bottom of the page, we have also included a short guide to buying this type of product for your pooch.

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A Comparison of Our Favorites in 2024

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
OurPets Sushi Puzzle Dog & Cat Toy OurPets Sushi Puzzle Dog & Cat Toy
  • Challenging without being too difficult
  • Made of BPA-plastic and thermoplastic rubber
  • Well-built and sturdy
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Ethical Pet Treat Dispenser Ball Dog Toy Ethical Pet Treat Dispenser Ball Dog Toy
  • Cheap
  • Rubber ball is reasonably durable
  • Dispenses treats more slowly than basic ball dispensers
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Nina Ottosson Puzzle Game Dog Toy Nina Ottosson Puzzle Game Dog Toy
  • Made from BPA-free plastic
  • Poses somewhat of a challenge
  • Remove the dog bone covers for less of a challenge
  • Best for Puppies
    Outward Hound Puppy Smart Dog Toy Outward Hound Puppy Smart Dog Toy
  • Easy for puppies to figure out
  • Made from BPA-free plastic
  • Good introduction to puppy toys
  • Frisco Baseball Stadium Dog Toy Frisco Baseball Stadium Dog Toy
  • Good looking baseball theme
  • Balls include squeakers for increased appeal
  • Made from soft, safe material
  • The 9 Best Dog Puzzle Toys

    1. OurPets Sushi Treat Dispensing Puzzle Dog Toy – Best Overall

    OurPets Sushi Treat Dispensing Puzzle Dog & Cat Toy

    Toy type: Puzzle
    Material: Polypropylene, Thermoplastic rubber
    Age: Adult

    The OurPets Sushi Treat Dispensing Puzzle Dog Toy can be used as a treat dispenser that encourages your dog to use his brain in exchange for some treats, or it can even be used to slow down quick eaters that would devour a handful of treats too quickly. The toy, which is made of polypropylene plastic and thermoplastic rubber, has 9 treat sections, each of which has a sliding lid. Slide the lids away from the holes, place a treat in the hole, and then slide the lids back over. Your dog is rewarded with a small treat when it figures out to push the sliders away from the food compartments.

    The toy is made of safe materials, with polypropylene being a BPA-free plastic. It is also modestly priced and offers enough of a mental challenge that it will take some time for most dogs to figure out. Because the action of sliding the lids away still takes time, even if your dog has already figured it out, it retains its value by providing you with a method of more slowly giving treats to your pup.

    The treat holes are a little too small for some paws and treats can get stuck in the lid track. Otherwise, thanks the good price and the modest challenge, this is our pick as the best overall dog puzzle toy.

    Pros
    • Challenging without being too difficult
    • Made of BPA-plastic and thermoplastic rubber
    • Well-built and sturdy
    Cons
    • Food can get stuck in the track
    • Treat holes are quite small

    2. Ethical Pet Dura Brite Treat Dispenser Ball Dog Toy – Best Value

    Ethical Pet Dura Brite Treat Dispenser Ball Dog Toy

    Toy type: Ball
    Material: Rubber
    Age: Adult

    The treat dispensing ball is arguably the simplest of all puzzle toys. Your pooch naturally rolls the ball around the floor and treats are dispensed from within, through holes in the ball. Where the Ethical Pet Dura Brite Treat Dispenser Ball Dog Toy is a little different is in the fact that it has an internal maze. This doesn’t increase the difficulty for your dog, but it does mean that the treats within have to roll around more before they are given to your dog, so it does slow the whole process down and makes this a useful distraction for dogs with separation anxiety or that don’t like being left alone when they’re bored.

    The ball is cheap, made from rubber that aids in dental hygiene while standing up to frequent use and chewing, and while it is simple, it is still an effective design that will entertain most dogs. It is our selection as the best dog puzzle toy for the money.

    However, the Ethical Pet Dura Brite is small so is only really suitable for small breeds of dog. The rubber material, although durable with a small dog, would also be too easily destroyed by power chewers.

    Pros
    • Cheap
    • Rubber ball is reasonably durable
    • Dispenses treats more slowly than basic ball dispensers
    Cons
    • Not suitable for large breeds

    3. Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Tornado Puzzle Game Dog Toy – Premium Choice

    Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Tornado Puzzle Game Dog Toy

    Toy type: Puzzle
    Material: Polypropylene
    Age: Adult

    Where treat dispensing balls are easily figured out, and can dispense treats really by accident, the Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Tornado Puzzle Game Dog Toy is a little more complex. Made from BPA-free polypropylene, this toy has four layers of rotating discs. Not only does this design give the toy its name but it also allows you to add treats in three layers. Your dog then has to twist the layers in different directions to access the compartment within. There are bone-shaped covers that can then be used to contain the treats, so your dog must twist the layers and then lift the covers.

    The Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound range includes a series of toys that are graded from the easiest level 1 difficulty to multi-step and highly challenging level 4 difficulty toys. The Tornado Puzzle Toy is a level 2, which means that your dog must perform multiple steps to get the treat inside.

    The toy is made from BPA-free plastic and is more difficult than a ball. However, it isn’t challenging as the intermediate difficulty suggests, it is quite pricey, and the small and confined treat segments are a challenge to clean efficiently.

    Pros
    • Made from BPA-free plastic
    • Poses somewhat of a challenge
    • Remove the dog bone covers for less of a challenge
    Cons
    • A little pricey
    • Difficult to clean properly

    4. Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Puppy Smart Dog Toy – Best for Puppies

    Outward Hound Puppy Smart Dog Toy

    Toy type: Puzzle
    Material: Polypropylene
    Age: Puppy

    Puppy puzzle toys not only need to be a little easier to figure out, but they should be free of components that are too easy to chew off. Puppies are more prone to chewing, so the toy should be durable as well. The Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Puppy Smart Dog Toy is considered a level 1 toy, so it is easy for puppies to uncover the treats, ensuring that it doesn’t become too frustrating of an experience for your young dog.

    The toy is also easy for you to operate – there are nine compartments that can be filled with kibble or treats, and then bone-shaped covers can be placed over the top of the treats. Your puppy must figure out how to remove the covers to grab the food underneath. Although this is an easy puzzle, it is a good introduction to puzzle toys for puppies and will set them up for more difficult challenges further down the line.

    It is a small toy, easy to solve, and you do have to supervise your dog when using it, or they could chew and swallow the small food covers.

    Pros
    • Easy for puppies to figure out
    • Made from BPA-free plastic
    • Good introduction to puppy toys
    Cons
    • Supervision required to prevent chewing of covers
    • Easy to work out

    5. Frisco Baseball Stadium Hide & Seek Puzzle Plush Squeaky Dog Toy

    Frisco Baseball Stadium Hide and Seek Puzzle

    Toy type: Hide and seek
    Material: Polypropylene
    Age: Adult

    Hide and seek toys are fun for dogs and they can give you plenty of entertainment while you watch your pooch figure it out. In the case of the Frisco Baseball Stadium Hide & Seek Puzzle Plush Squeaky Dog Toy, your dog is hunting soft, squashy baseballs that are hidden under an artificial baseball diamond made of safe polyester. The balls also contain squeakers so they are more appealing for your dog and can be squeezed to encourage playtime.

    The plush cover is gentle so that it won’t cause abrasion or damage to your dog, although the whole toy, including the base and the balls, are quite soft and easy to destroy, so you will have to monitor your dog’s time with it. This is one of a series of baseball-themed toys from Frisco, so whether it is you or your dog that loves the sport, you can get a good selection of toys.

    Pros
    • Good-looking baseball theme
    • Balls include squeakers for increased appeal
    • Made from soft, safe material
    Cons
    • Easily destroyed

    6. Disney Holiday Gingerbread House Plush Squeaky Dog Toy

    Disney Holiday Mickey & Minnie Mouse Gingerbread House Hide and Seek Puzzle Plush Squeaky Dog Toy

    Toy type: Hide and seek
    Material: Polyester
    Age: Adult

    If you’re less a fan of Star Wars and more of Disney’s classic cartoon franchises, then the Disney Holiday Plush Squeaky Dog Toy features a gingerbread house base and three mini toys: Mickey, Minnie, and a Mickey Mouse head shaped toy.

    All the mini toys contain squeakers so that your pup will be excited to find their favorite, noisy toy. The base and toys are made from polyester and, although they’re safe to use, they can be easily chewed by heavy chewers and may become soggy if your dog carries them around too long. The soft cover of the plush toys means they could become your dog’s favorite stuffed companion.

    Pros
    • Cute Mickey Mouse theme
    • Squeakers add extra appeal
    • Made from safe, non-abrasive polyester
    Cons
    • Easily chewed through

    7. Nina Ottoson by Outward Hound Brick Puzzle Game Dog Toy

    Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Brick Puzzle Game Dog Toy

    Toy type: Puzzle
    Material: Polypropylene
    Age: Adult

    The Brick Puzzle Game Dog Toy is a sliding puzzle toy that rewards your dog for figuring out the sliding mechanism and uncovering the treats below. As well as being able to add kibble or treats under the slider, you can also add the plastic dog bone shaped covers between the sliders.

    At its simplest, your dog just has to move the slider, but once the difficulty is increased, they will need to lift and remove the bone before moving the slider. The whole thing is made from polypropylene, which is a BPA-free and safe plastic, although you will have to supervise any time your dog plays with the toy because the bones are easily chewed and can be swallowed.

    The toy is suitable for well-behaved dogs that are not avid chewers, but while the bones do increase the difficulty for dogs that use the toy as intended, it is too easy to simply chew the covers off to get to the treats underneath.

    Pros
    • Increase or decrease difficulty according to your dog
    • Made from BPA-free plastic
    Cons
    • Easily figured out
    • Easily chewed and destroyed

    8. Busy Buddy Twist n’ Treat Treat Dispenser Dog Toy

    Busy Buddy Twist 'n Treat Treat Dispenser Dog Toy

    Toy type: Ball
    Material: Rubber
    Age: Adult

    The Busy Buddy Twist n’ Treat Treat Dispenser Dog Toy is a treat dispensing ball, of sorts. Twist the two halves of the ball apart, add treats, and then twist the sections back together.

    This twisting motion is designed to make it easier to get the treats in and allows you to make it easier or more difficult to get the food inside, either by making the gap larger or smaller. This also allows for the addition of different treat types. The sections can also be separated completely, and the natural rubber is top-rack dishwasher safe, so it is easy to maintain.

    However, for what is essentially a treat ball, the Twist n’ Treat is expensive. The rubber is also easily chewed through, it has a strong rubber smell when the ball arrives, and it is difficult to shift the smell even after going through the dishwasher.

    Pros
    • Difficulty can be increased or decreased
    • Dishwasher safe
    Cons
    • Rubber is easily chewed
    • Has a strong rubber smell
    • Expensive for a treat ball

    9. Ethical Pet Seek-A-Treat Flip N Slide Puzzle Dog Toy

    Ethical Pet Seek-A-Treat Flip N Slide Puzzle Dog Toy

    Toy type: Puzzle
    Material: Plastic
    Age: Adult

    The Ethical Pet Seek-A-Treat Flip N Slide Puzzle Dog Toy is a simple puzzle toy. Although the toy does have some covers that need flipping and others that need sliding, they do not combine, which means that once your dog figures out a single mechanism, they can get to half of the treats you’ve placed inside.

    It is quite an expensive toy and while it is made from BPA-free plastic, the plastic is thin and is easily chewed off. The sliding and flipping mechanisms may help slow a dog that wolfs their food down, but it doesn’t take long to figure out the puzzle or tear the covers off and get to the treats below.

    Pros
    • Made from BPA-free plastic
    • Slows fast eaters
    Cons
    • Puzzle is very easy to figure out
    • Plastic is thin and easily chewed
    • Quite expensive

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    Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Dog Puzzle Toy

    Dogs can get bored very easily and a bored dog is more likely to become destructive and develop other problem behaviors. Unfortunately, most people don’t have the time to dedicate hours on end to playing with their dog every day. Giving your pooch a selection of balls and other toys will keep them entertained for a little while, but these can get boring very quickly, leaving you in the same position. Puzzle toys and interactive toys are one solution, and they offer other benefits beyond keeping your pup quiet for a few hours.


    The Benefits of Puzzle Toys

    1. They Can Slow Fast Eaters

    Some dogs are quite demure when eating their dinner, taking a reasonable mouthful of food at a time and only getting more once they have chewed and swallowed each mouthful. Other dogs will attempt to wolf down or hoover up all their food in a single mouthful. Fast eating can cause indigestion and it can even lead to choking.

    Puzzle toys that dispense treats or dry kibble can be used to improve your dog’s eating habits. Choose one that offers enough room for a decent amount of kibble and watch as your dog must figure out each stage or section of the puzzle to get at the food below. Some puzzle toys will slow your dog down even once it has figured out the puzzle element of the toy design. It naturally takes longer to slide a cover and get to food than it does to simply gorge on the food.

    2. They Can Offer Exercise

    Some food dispensing toys are designed to reward your dog for actions such as flipping them over or rolling them around repeatedly. While it isn’t intensive exercise, it does get your dog off the couch to get something to eat. If you have a dog that is very reluctant to move but loves food, this could be an ideal start to more frequent and intense exercise.

    3. They Take Your Dog’s Mind Off Anxiety

    Dogs can suffer anxiety just the same as humans do, and some are especially prone to separation anxiety. Giving a dog something to do while you’re out of the house can help take their mind off the fact that you’ve gone. They will be too busy trying to figure out the puzzle to get the treats within that they won’t notice you’ve been gone so long. Similarly, this kind of toy can be used to distract a dog that is anxious when strangers visit or suffers anxiety when fireworks are going off outside.

    4. They Can Help Control Weight

    Because the feeder slows your dog’s eating and encourages a little exercise before it gets to the treats you choose to give, an interactive puzzle toy can help your dog shed the ounces. If this is your primary aim, be sure to use low calorie treats inside the treat dispenser and alter your dog’s daily food intake accordingly.

    5. They’re Fun to Play With

    Some dogs love to run, while others also need mental stimulation. If your pooch is a thinker, a puzzle toy will keep him entertained if he is trying to get the prize underneath.

    6. They’re Entertaining to Watch

    It isn’t just fun for your dog to figure out how to beat a puzzle toy; it is fun for you to watch on with pride as he figures out he has to slide the hatch back and then remove the bone-shaped cover to get to the food underneath. Plus, it’s always fun to watch their reaction when they do finally figure out the trick.

    Dog playing toy puzzle_Lenti Hill_Shutterstock
    Image By: Lenti Hill, Shutterstock

    Toy Type

    There are various types of puzzle toys available, and there is no single best dog toy to suit all canine preferences. The main types of puzzle toys are:

    • Puzzle Toy – These are toys that have sliding or lifting mechanisms that cover food. The dog has to be able to move or remove the cover in order to get to the food below. Difficulty levels can vary from toy to toy, but some have multiple levels of difficulty and you can make it harder for your dog to get to the treats as they combat each level.
    • Ball – Treat dispensing balls are commonly found in a lot of dog owners’ homes. Although there isn’t much of a puzzle to solve, your dog does have to push and roll the ball around for the treats to be dispensed. These can be especially effective to get a dog moving. The puzzle is easy to solve so your dog doesn’t lose interest too quickly, and some treat balls can be tightened or loosened to increase or decrease the difficulty level accordingly.
    • Hide and Seek – Hide and seek toys are basic toys that have a base and at least one small toy. There is usually a hole or a cover. The toy is placed in the hole or under the cover and your dog has to sniff it out. The toys usually have a squeaker inside to make them more appealing.

    Do Dog Puzzles Make Your Dog Smarter?

    Dogs learn and, just like humans, the more puzzles they do, the better they become at them. Even a simple treat dispensing ball toy can make your dog a little smarter. They will initially knock treats out by accident, but the reward of the food means that they will try and replicate the process and most dogs will push the ball around again and again to get more food.

    Once your dog has mastered the ball toy, you can move up to a puzzle toy and then progress through the various stages of challenge that these offer. More than just gimmicks or forms of entertainment, dog puzzle toys really can hone your dog’s intelligence and senses.

    Are Interactive Toys Good for Dogs?

    As long as you ensure that there is some way for your dog to succeed, and therefore aren’t setting them up for failure, interactive toys offer mental stimulation and can aid in training and intelligence. They are generally considered good for dogs, although you do need to ensure that the puzzle is not too difficult as to cause frustration and is well-built enough to prevent your dog from eating the plastic and potentially choking on the small pieces.

    Dog-playing-sniffing-puzzle-game-for-intellectual-and-nosework-training
    Image By: Alexei_tm, Shutterstock

    Do Puzzle Toys Tire Dogs Out?

    Dogs need mental stimulation, as well as physical exercise, and if your dog really must use their brain when playing with the toy, it can quickly tire them out. This is another reason that this type of toy can work wonders for a dog that suffers separation anxiety. While solving the puzzle, they will be distracted from the fact that you’re out of the house, and will likely fall asleep afterwards.

    How Do I Keep My Dog Entertained While at Work?

    A bored dog can become destructive or suffer from anxiety. While puzzle toys can offer a means of keeping their mind off the fact you’re not home, there are other effective ways to keep a dog entertained when you’re not home.

    • Put the TV on
    • Let them watch out the window
    • Use a treat dispenser cone or ball
    • Use dog pheromones for anxious dogs
    • Get a canine brother or sister
    • Get a dog walker

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    Conclusion

    Dog puzzle toys keep your dog entertained, reward them for intelligent behavior, and they can even help provide a little exercise and shed some ounces. You do need to ensure that you buy one that isn’t too difficult or too easy, and that it is made from safe and durable materials, though.

    Hopefully, our reviews above helped you find the right toy for your dog. We found the OurPets Sushi Treat Dispensing Puzzle Dog & Cat Toy to be reasonably challenging and a decent price, making it one of the best puzzle dog toys available. The Ethical Pet Dura Brite Treat Dispenser Ball Dog Toy is very reasonably priced, albeit quite simple to figure out.


    Featured Image Credit: Lenti Hill, Shutterstock

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