Some dog puzzle games are simple chew toys with tiny treats, while others can confound your hound. Others are perfect for getting a lazy dog up and about. The right dog puzzle toys are good for your dog. Sometimes they are good for you too! But which ones?
We solve the ‘dog puzzle game’ puzzle for you.
Dog Puzzle Games – What Are They Good For?
To know what puzzle game will fit your dog’s needs, you need to understand their purpose. We break them down into four main categories:
- Dog Chew Toys – Chew for Reward
- Tongue Twisters – Lick for Reward
- Hidden Treasure – Reveal for Reward
- Shake, Rattle and Roll – Get Active for Reward
Before we work through these types of dog puzzle games, let’s talk about food. You’ll see the word ‘reward’ in all the descriptions above, and that reward is food. Small treats, to be precise.
As we explain in our article about training your dog to come every time you call, food is gold to dogs. Nothing else motivates them in quite the same way, so little treats are really the engines that drive every dog puzzle game.
As always, be careful what you feed your dog. Refer to our DIY dog treats article so you avoid the traps.
OK, let’s go through these one at a time. We’ll talk about what they’re good for as we go.
Dog Chew Toys
It’s even called the Kong Classic! Click on the above image for more information.
This one is not a very hard puzzle, but that hole can house some treats so it does qualify.
As we mention in Fact 11 in our article on dog play pens, using this type of chew toy early with a new puppy will help them build good chewing habits. You don’t really want teeth marks on all your furniture.
This next category of dog puzzle game plays to natural dog behaviors. We’ve already talked about the motivating power of food, so the other factor at play here is a dog’s willingness to work their tongue into wherever the treats have been hidden.
In the wild, that might have been cracks in a fallen log. In dog puzzle games, it’s narrow slots between pieces of flexible, chew-resistant material. Kong have some good examples in this category too. Watch this short video to see them in action.
Kong Quest Wishbone
We like the tongue tangling challenge that the Wishbone model provides.
Click on the image for more information.
These dog puzzle toys are excellent for a short-term distraction and for spicing up the life of a bored dog.
Hidden Treasure is our name for those dog puzzle games that have moving parts. Your dog needs to work the puzzle to reveal the treats. Because they can’t necessarily see the goodies trapped inside, you should use treats that have an appealing smell. You may be surprised how inventive your dog becomes in his pursuit of food!
Now many in this category are simple spin-and-win devices where your dog can easily nose the moving part around to reveal the treat. Dogs learn fast when it comes to food, so we prefer a trickier model.
These harder puzzles can be a great time consumer for your dog, and are certainly a way to relieve a little doggy boredom.
Shake, Rattle and Roll
We love this category of dog puzzle games for motivating those lazy dogs who would love to lay around and sleep the whole day. It’s not their fault, it’s in their breeding, but we need to help them get a little exercise.
This one sits firmly in the Shake camp. Both ends of the waggle can be stuffed with dry treats. A good shaking will dislodge some snacks.
Click on the image for more information.
Then there’s the Treat IQ Ball, below, which is firmly in the Rattle and Roll camp. A weight in the bottom keeps it upright, so your dog needs to give it a good nudge before any rewards come forward.
Go High Tech?
All the above dog puzzle games are ones that you leave with your dog, but if you want to go high-tech you can get more inventive and more interactive. We have some of the Best High Tech Dog Games for you, or as an alternative, some ‘Old School’ Games for Dogs.
Fixing the Wrong Problem
There’s room for a dog puzzle game or dog puzzle toy in almost every dog’s life. Giving your dog the right toy can exercise their mind as well as their body.
But be careful you aren’t fixing the wrong problem.
What if your dog isn’t really bored? What if they’re fretting and worried when left alone because they think they are the pack leader and their pack (that’s you and your family) has gone missing?
With just a little education you’ll quickly work out if you have some underlying problems in your relationship with your dog (as opposed to a contented but smart dog in need of a little diversion).
We recommend you start with some free videos from Doggy Dan the Online Dog Trainer, just to be sure.