13 Best Mind Stimulating Dog Toys: Their Features and Benefits


Best mind stimulating dog toys

Quick Access To The Best Mind Stimulating Dog Toys👇

Editors PickBrand
Best OverallClassic KONG
Best Runner UpOutward Hound Hide-a-squirrel
Best Beginner Dog PuzzleOutward Hound Brick Puzzle
Best For Heavy SniffersSnuffle Mat
Best For Smarty PantsTrixie Activity Flip Board
Best Intermediate PuzzleHide-and-Slide Puzzle
Best For Tough ChewersWest Paw Qwizl Treat Dispensing Puzzle
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change

Some of the best toys that can be used to stimulate your dog’s mind come in the form of puzzle toys. Their unique structures allow your pups to have complete amusement while also improving their mental health. However, not all toys measure up! That’s why we made a list of the best mind stimulating dog toys to keep them focused on their toys and not getting into trouble.

Often we see dog behaviorists and vets recommend interactive toys to help keep your dog busy while you’re out. This is not only in order to help stimulate the mind of your dog but also to keep your pup entertained for hours on end. In this post we’re going to show you the best mind stimulating dog toys that you can get.

The wide variety of puzzle and treat toys that we’ve put together on our list ensures there’s a great toy for any dog. We’re confident you’ll find one that will help give your pup the necessary mental stimulation and entertainment they need.

These are the best mind stimulating dog toys that actually help bored dogs!

Top 13 Best Mind Stimulating Dog Toys

Best Overall: Classic KONG (Original must have dog puzzle)

So at this point in your pet owner journey, you’ve probably seen this toy on everybody’s list. Kong has rightfully earned its place among the best of the best toys for dogs. It’s been ranked the number one dog toy by veterinarians, pet owners, dog trainers, and canine behaviourists worldwide! Not only is this a toy that will withstand super chewers but it will also help with mental stimulation, teething pups, and separation anxiety.

The Kong classic dog toy weighs around 7.2 ounces and comes in a variety of different sizes to fit your dog’s individual needs. There are variations that serve each unique dog from your average chewer to the most extreme power chewers. The tough build and ability to bounce is what makes this toy never ending fun for your pup.

Another major benefit is the hollowness of the Kong which allows you to easily fill it with treats. You could even fill it with peanut butter to keep them busy! It’s not like your typical puzzle toy since it’s pretty straightforward and does not have much complexity. However, it provides the same benefits as most puzzle toys and that’s why we included it on this list.

Best Runner Up: Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel 

Outward Hound brings a unique and innovative Plush puzzle dog toy to the market. This toy includes hidden squirrels inside a soft plush tree trunk. Your dog will love this interactive puzzle as the squirrels pop in and out of their hiding holes while squeaking away. This is by far one the best toys to entertain your bored dog as well as providing them with cognitive stimulation!

The Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel is available in multiple sizes ranging from junior to ginormous. The ginormous includes 5 hiding spots that will keep your pet continuously entertained for hours on end. One thing to note about this toy is that it contains stuffing and many users claim they tear after extensive use. So if you have a heavy chewer, you may want to opt for one of the more durable puzzles.

Best Beginner Dog Puzzle: Outward Hound Brick Puzzle

This is one of the coolest puzzles around. Its unique “brick” style design allows you to hide treats under the different “bricks” for your dog to sniff out. The idea is simple, the dogs must flip the covers of various compartments to find the treats.

This is a great dog puzzle toy for beginner dogs new to the concept of puzzle toys. It’s rated a level 2 or 3 for difficulty so it’s a great starter puzzle that will be a great mind stimulating toy. If your dog tends to be a smarty pants, some owners have mentioned it being too easy for their dogs. You may want to consider a more difficult toy on this list if that’s the case for you.

Best For Heavy Sniffers: Snuffle Mat

Is your dog a heavy sniffer? If the answer is yes then this toy is going to be one of the best mind stimulating dog toys for your pup.

The Snuffle Mat is an Ideal puzzle toy to challenge your dog’s sniffer. The soft felt strips make for a soothing material on your dog’s nose while giving them mental stimulation. This is not as much of a tough to solve puzzle, but it’s more of a scent game. One of the best parts of the Snuffle Mat is its ability to reduce nerves and anxiety in dogs. Sniffing is a great way for dogs to improve their mental health. This puzzle toy doesn’t require any training but will keep dogs busy for quite some time searching through the mat for all the treats you’ve hidden away.

Best For Smarty Pants: Trixie Activity Flip Board

Next up is the Trixie Dog Activity Flip Board! This is a more challenging puzzle on our list that will require your dog to have critical thinking skills. Your dog will be challenged to utilize their mouth, nose, and paws to lift and shift pieces in order to get to the treats.

The key component to finding the best mind stimulating dog toys is getting a toy that is the perfect difficulty for your unique doggo. What we found after reviewing this toy is that it may require some teaching on your end. Owners in reviews mention the importance of showing your pup how to access the treats in order to give them some direction. In some cases your pup may be smart enough to figure it out on their own, but if you notice them getting frustrated make sure to show them!

This unique puzzle includes cones, discs, and knobs. These three compartments keep dogs curious solving the puzzle while learning new techniques to seek their reward!

Best Intermediate Puzzle: Hide-and-Slide Puzzle (Level 2 Difficulty)

Next up is the Intermediate Outward Hound Puzzle Toy! Simply fill the compartments and swivel the lids to cover them, then let your dog go at it. The spinning center combined with moveable blocks is easy for your dog to move with their nose, mouth or paws. This puzzle toy will keep your dog challenged and entertained trying to get to the treats.

The Outward Hound Puzzle is made of composite materials and does not have any removable parts. If your dog is a chewer make sure to keep an eye to make sure they don’t chew it up! This puzzle toy is definitely an “advanced” puzzle, so if you think it might be too complicated, opt for an easier puzzle toy instead.

Be warned…if you let your dog spend too much time solving this puzzle, they may start outsmarting you!

Best For Tough Chewers: West Paw Qwizl Treat Dispensing Puzzle

For the more aggressive dogs that LOVE to chew, the West Paw Zogoflex Qwizl is the perfect play companion to satisfy their urges without making a mess. This toy includes a treat dispenser to keep your pup entertained while stimulating its mind. It is guaranteed to be tough for even the most aggressive chewers.

The toy fits any type of dog treat you wish to use and gets secured tightly inside the toy to keep your pet fairly challenged during play and feeding times. This toy comes in two sizes (large and small) with three color choices, Tangerine, Aqua Blue, and Granny Smith. One of the coolest features is its ability to float making it great for water play! This is an all around great toy and one of the best mind stimulating dog toys!

Other Top-Rated Picks

Outward Hound Fun Feeder Slo Bowl – Great First Puzzle

Now for those of you with speed eater pups. This slow-eater dog bowl forces your dog to use his tongue to grab onto their food rather than gulping it down all at once. Not only will this help with fast eaters but it also creates great mind stimulation to add to your dog’s eating sessions.

The Outward Hound Fun Feeder Slo Bowl is made with food safe plastic and holds up to 4 cups of dry kibble. The biggest downside to this toy is the fact that it is not used outside of feeding time. If you are looking for something mind stimulating for them to use outside of meal time then you will want to check some of the other toys on this list.

Bob-A-Lot Treat Dispenser – Puzzle Toy

The StarMark Bob-A-Lot is the perfect toy to keep your pup entertained and mentally stimulated at the same time. All you have to do is fill it with treats and watch your dog try and wobble them out.

Unlike a lot of other treat-dispensing toys and puzzles toys, with the Bob-a-lot you can actually adjust the opening to increase or decrease the difficulty as your dog learns. The toy is sufficiently weighted down with an anti-slip bottom that allows your dog to tackle it without it falling over.

The StarMark Bod-A-Lot provides lots of mental stimulation and helps improve cognitive functions. This toy works exceptionally well for dogs who suffer from anxiety. From looking over reviews many appreciate the ability to use the toy on carpets, tiled floors, and hardwood floors. The sole downside we found was the noise produced when using kibble or hard treats in the toy.

Outward Hound Dog Twister Puzzle

Does the game Twister sound familiar? You have likely heard of the human version of twister, but how about for dogs? This is a unique puzzle toy that features a wheel of compartments that can be filled with treats. Your dog must move one block after another in a circle to reveal the treats.

A great feature of this toy is the ability to increase the difficulty by locking some blocks in place using a bone-shaped peg. Once your dog stats to master the game, start locking up some block to increase the difficulty!

Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Dog Tornado

The bright blue and yellow layers of this toy make for a beautiful and dazzling puzzle toy that any dog will love. Each of the 4 layers spins alternating between the blue and yellow layers. The only way to reveal the treats is to move each bone shaped layer out of the way.

This level 2 difficulty puzzle is one of the best mind stimulating dog toys around. As an added bonus you can up the difficulty by placing treats under smaller white bones that fit into compartments in each layer. As with every toy, no dog toy is truly indestructible, so always remove the toy from playtime if pieces begin to break off.

Snuffle Mat Puzzle Toy

This next one is similar to #5 on our list with some fabric, texture, and colour differences. This Snuffle Mat is designed with durable fabric that is safe for pets providing an ideal toy for entertainment and mental stimulation for major sniffers.

The anti slip bottom helps keep the toy stable while your dog happily sniffs around looking for their reward. One of the best parts about this toy is how easy it is to clean and store. Throw it in the washing machine then pull the lanyard to close it up!

Frisco Hide and Seek Flying Saucer (Aliens/Monkeys)

This is one of the coolest looking toys around! This alien/monkey plush toy includes 3 – 6 aliens or monkeys and 1 alien spaceship or banana. To increase the level of curiosity for your pet, each stuffed toy is equipped with little squeakers to give your dog a nice surprise when compressed. Not only is this a great toy to mentally stimulate your dog but you can also use this toy for fetch! You can throw the spaceship like a saucer or the banana like a boomerang and even toss the little plush figures across the room.

As a warning, this is not a toy for heavy chewers as it will quickly become bits and pieces. One of the biggest complaints we’ve found is in regards to the annoying squeaking so keep in mind, squeaky toys may be great for your dog but maybe not for your sanity!

Conclusion

Those are the 13 best mind stimulating dog toys around!

Keeping your dog occupied while you’re away from home is the best way to ensure they don’t get into trouble.

Much like a happy wife equals a happy life, a happy doggo equals a happy dog mom!

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Alec Littlejohn

Founder and Reviewer at Pawscessories. He is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! He grew up in a family of vets and to this day he helps out around the family clinic and shares his learnings on Pawscessories. Learn more about Alec's story here

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