The Best Dog Puzzles — Reviewed and Ranked

Written by Opal
Updated: December 24, 2022
©

This post may contain affiliate links to our partners like Chewy, Amazon, and others. Purchasing through these helps us further the A-Z Animals mission to educate about the world's species..

Key Points

  • The #1 Best Overall dog puzzle is the Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Dog Treat Puzzle.
  • Keeping your dog entertained is easy with a fun dog puzzle. As well as being great for curing boredom, these are also effective at helping your dog feel at ease and relaxed. When purchasing a dog puzzle, it is important to consider the durability of the product. A good toy is one that can withstand hours of use and is made to last.
  • If you want to keep your dog puzzle clean, you will need to wash it regularly. Some must be disassembled and hand washed, while others can be washed in the washing machine.
  • You can find dog puzzles that range between $5 and over $50, so whatever your budget is, there is something that is right for you.

Games and puzzles are always fun, aren’t they? You may be surprised to hear that man’s best friend also enjoys playing with puzzles, especially if they include hidden treats! It is common for dog owners to use puzzles to keep their dogs entertained and relaxed. Your doggo will enjoy playing with dog puzzles, engaging his senses of smell, taste, and touch.

However, there are so many puzzle options out there. It can be hard to figure out which one you should buy. After all, there are a lot of puzzles on the market, but not all dogs will like them. There are some that are better for smaller dogs, like terriers. Others puzzles are better for larger canines, such as huskies or Dobermans.  Puppies do better with soft puzzles made of pliable vinyl or plush toys, while older pups love a challenge with durable plastic with hidden compartments.

We’ve worked hard to find the four most entertaining puzzles for dogs. Below you’ll find four different options that you can choose from to keep your pup entertained and happy!

  1. Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Dog Treat Puzzle
  2. Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Dog Treat Puzzle
    • Helps teach man’s best friend three unique foraging skills
    • An intermediate toy that will bring a challenge to dogs of all sizes
    • Everything is removable for easy cleaning
    • Provides mental stimulation to keep your dog alert
    Check Amazon
  3. Outward Hound Hide A Squirrel Puzzle Dog Toy
  4. Outward Hound Hide A Squirrel Puzzle Dog Toy
    • Machine-washable tree trunk
    • Suitable for dogs of all breeds
    • Squeaky squirrels in a tree trunk
    • Replacement pack of squirrels available
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  5. Shy Coyote Pets - Snuffle Mat for Dogs
  6. Shy Coyote Pets - Snuffle Mat for Dogs
    • Nonslip base
    • The puzzle is nearly 29x29 inches big
    • Water-repellant
    • Machine-washable
    Check Amazon
  7. Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball Dog Toy
  8. Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball Dog Toy
    • Made out of pliable vinyl
    • Very durable
    • Quiet on tile and hardwood floors
    • Challenges the dog's perception
    Check Chewy Check Amazon

Top Picks: The Best Dog Puzzles Today

#1. Best Overall: Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Brick Puzzle Game

As far as dog puzzles go, the Nina Ottosson Brick Puzzle Game by Outward Hound takes the top spot. There are plenty of amazing dog toys, games, and puzzles available from this brand. Among its many benefits, this one teaches man’s best friend three unique foraging skills. 

The BPA-free dog puzzle is ideal for medium-sized dogs and will provide a challenge for them. It’s a great toy for puppies or senior dogs, regardless of what age they are. 

Approximately 13×9 inches in size, it’s relatively small. Treats are hidden in multiple ways in this puzzle, and your pet has to figure out how to get them. One of the tricks is lifting and taking one of the bricks that are shaped like dog bones. 

Another activity requires your dog to flip a lid open and another involves sliding blocks onto designated tracks. Easily cleanable, everything can be hand washed because it’s removable. Some reviewers noted that this may not be the best puzzle for dogs who are incessant chewers as they can chew the pieces apart. 

Pros and Cons of the Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Brick Puzzle Game

ProsCons
The dog puzzle is BPA-free.The toy is not suitable for dogs with a lot of chewing urges.
You can hide treats in three different ways to keep your pup occupied.
Dogs of all ages will find it mentally stimulating.
Overall Best
Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Dog Treat Puzzle
  • Helps teach man’s best friend three unique foraging skills
  • An intermediate toy that will bring a challenge to dogs of all sizes
  • Everything is removable for easy cleaning
  • Provides mental stimulation to keep your dog alert
Check Amazon

2. Best Plush Dog Puzzle: Outward Hound Hide A Squirrel Puzzle Dog Toy

The Outward Hound Hide A Squirrel Puzzle Dog Toy is the perfect soft plush toy for your pup.

Although we try not to be biased, the Outward Hound Hide A Squirrel Plush Puzzle Toy is by far the cutest of the four options we reviewed. It’s hard to believe that plush squirrels in a tree can be so precious, but they are!

In addition to finding the squirrels in the tree, your pup will be able to take them out and toss them around while they squeak! You can even play toss and catch with the squirrels. It’s like getting two toys for the price of one! Dog puzzles can sharpen your pup’s hunting instincts, so this is an excellent choice. 

You can find five soft, squeaking squirrels in the machine-washable tree trunk. In case your dog goes to town and rips apart the squirrels, there is a replacement pack for sale. There are four sizes to choose from, so any dog will be able to enjoy this toy. Despite its softness, the material can be too soft for some dogs, especially those with higher strength.

Pros and Cons of the Outward Hound Hide A Squirrel Puzzle Dog Toy

ProsCons
You can engage your dog both mentally and physically with this dog puzzle.The toy may be too soft for stronger dogs.
If your dog chews through or loses an animal, replacements are available.
The toy is machine-washable.
Best Plush Toy
Outward Hound Hide A Squirrel Puzzle Dog Toy
  • Machine-washable tree trunk
  • Suitable for dogs of all breeds
  • Squeaky squirrels in a tree trunk
  • Replacement pack of squirrels available
Check Chewy Check Amazon

3. Best Puzzle Mat for Dogs: Shy Coyote Pets – Snuffle Mat for Dogs

Getting your pup a portable puzzle toy such as the Shy Coyote Pets – Snuffle Mat for Dogs can be quite a treat.

Looking for a dog puzzle you can easily roll up and take with you? You can keep your dog entertained wherever you are with the Shy Coyote mat. As well as helping dogs build confidence, this dog puzzle also improves their foraging skills. This mat features soft ridges and plenty of pockets to hide treats, making it perfect for dogs with declining vision, mobility, and cognition. 

There’s a nonslip base under the nearly 29×29-inch puzzle. The bright colors, crinkle material, squeaker, and a bell make this every dog’s dream toy! You won’t have to worry about accidents, as it’s water-repellant and can be thrown in the washer when it’s dirty. Unfortunately, some reviewers found the toy to be too fragile, especially the stitching. The whole thing seemed to fall apart too quickly.

Pros and Cons of the Shy Coyote Pets – Snuffle Mat for Dogs

ProsCons
Moving and storing this dog toy is easy.Reviewers complained that the stitching on the toy fell apart too quickly.
If your dog has mobility or vision issues, this is a great option.
The crinkle and squeak sounds keep dogs entertained.
The non-slip base prevents the toy puzzle from moving.
Best Puzzle Mat
Shy Coyote Pets - Snuffle Mat for Dogs
  • Nonslip base
  • The puzzle is nearly 29x29 inches big
  • Water-repellant
  • Machine-washable
Check Amazon

4. Best Budget Dog Puzzle: Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball Dog Toy

With the Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball Dog Toy, you don’t need to break the bank to keep your dog entertained.

Do you have a budget of around $10 and want to find your furry friend a fun and entertaining puzzle? The Omega Paw Tricky Treat Puzzle just might be their new favorite toy! 

This treat ball is made out of pliable vinyl and is incredibly durable. While man’s best friend can simply roll the ball around and pick up treats as they fall out, they can also play with it the same way they do a tennis ball. There are three sizes available: small, medium, and large.

It’s easy for dogs to pick up and can withstand their sharp teeth and aggressive bites. Pet owners love that it’s quiet on their tile and hardwood floors. It challenges their perception and teaches them a thing or two about being patient until you get a treat. The ball has been criticized for not being durable enough by some reviewers. There were some dogs that chewed right through the ball right away.

ProsCons
This dog toy is extremely cost-effective.Some reviewers mentioned that the ball was easily chewed through by their dog.
The ball can be filled with treats to keep your dog entertained for hours.
Available in three different sizes to keep dogs of all sizes and ages entertained.
Best Budget
Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball Dog Toy
  • Made out of pliable vinyl
  • Very durable
  • Quiet on tile and hardwood floors
  • Challenges the dog's perception
Check Chewy Check Amazon

What to Look For in the Best Dog Puzzles

A good interactive dog puzzle toy will keep your pup occupied while you’re away, prevent boredom, and promote exercise. In addition to keeping your pup entertained for hours, these toys will also burn out really energetic dogs, helping them tire out all that extra energy more quickly. How does one dog puzzle differ from another, and what makes one better than the other? If you are comparing dog puzzles, there are several things you should pay attention to when you are looking at their features and aspects. 

If you want to choose the best puzzle for your puppy, you have to consider three main factors:

  • Durability 
  • Price
  • Easy to clean

In the following section, we’ll dig into each of those factors in more detail:

Durability

Understanding the puzzle’s material will help you determine its durability. Regardless of what breed you own, your dog will likely tear up a toy easily. It is important to get something sturdy enough to handle the claws and teeth of your pet.

Price

Whenever we buy anything, the cost plays a significant role in our decision. You won’t have to spend a fortune on the best dog puzzles. Some of them cost under $5, but others go for over $50.

Washable

In addition, you need to take into consideration how easy it is to clean the dog puzzle. On our list, we have options that come apart and can be hand washed with mild soap and water. There are other options you can just put in your washer and dryer. It’s always a good idea to make sure you can easily wash the puzzle when dog treats are involved.

The 4 Different Types of Dog Puzzles

As there are so many options on the market today, it’s important to compare the pros and cons of each type of puzzle. Each type of puzzle toy will benefit your dog in different ways. Some are completely mentally stimulating while others engage your pup both mentally and physically. 

A dog puzzle can fall into four different categories, each of which has its own pros, cons, and uses.

Some of the most common pros and cons include:

  • Puzzle Boards — There are a lot of tricks your dog can learn from puzzle boards. Generally, dogs love these types of puzzles because they are durable and fun to play with. They can be bulky and expensive for some pet parents. 
  • Plush Puzzles — For puppies, older dogs, or dogs with dental problems, plush puzzles may be the best choice. There are several styles available and they are usually easily washable. Plush toys can be torn apart, which is a downside.
  • Puzzle Mats — Your furry friend can learn hunting skills and improve their cognition with puzzle mats. All breeds and ages of dogs will benefit from them. Your dog might miss out on small bits of food, causing it to go stale or attract pests to your home.
  • Treat Puzzles — Treat-giving puzzles are incredibly rewarding for your dog. The treat your dog found will make them feel like they earned it. Their disadvantage is that they need to be washed more frequently. 

Up Next

  • The Best Puppy Toys — Don’t forget to stock up on fun toys to keep your new puppy entertained before he or she comes home!
  • The Best Puppy Bowls: Updated — We know your new furry friend can’t wait to eat! Make sure he eats in style with one of the best puppy bowls.
  • The Best Dog Toys For Fetch — Retire the old tennis ball and instead check out these colorful and fun toys!
About the Author

When she's not busy playing with her several guinea pigs or her cat Finlay Kirstin is writing articles to help other pet owners. She's also a REALTOR® in the Twin Cities and is passionate about social justice. There's nothing that beats a rainy day with a warm cup of tea and Frank Sinatra on vinyl for this millennial.

The Best Dog Puzzles — Reviewed and Ranked FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are puzzles good for dogs?

Playing dog puzzle games can boost your dog’s mental and physical activity as well as relieve stress and restlessness, improve problem-solving abilities, and relieve pent-up energy. Adding supplementary nutrients and high-value, limited-ingredient snacks to your dog’s routine will enhance his health as well!

Will a puzzle tire my dog out?

A puzzle toy demands mental energy, and treats stimulate your dog’s brain, exhausting him faster than a long walk!

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.