Best dog puzzle toys 2024 for your clever canine

Dog playing with one of the best dog puzzle toys
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Keep your pooch entertained and engaged with the best dog puzzle toys. While dogs love all kinds of toys and games, puzzles are a fantastic way to keep them mentally stimulated, keeping their mind sharp and stopping them from getting bored.

The best dog puzzle toys are especially important for the smartest dog breeds, as these clever paws require a lot of mental stimulation, as well as physical exercise, as part of their daily routines. Without these challenges, your dog may end up diverting that excess energy into less desirable behaviors, such as chewing the furniture or eating your shoes. If your dog won’t stop barking, chances are that they’re just bored. 

But regardless of your dog’s breed or age, there are puzzle toys to suit them. They come in various levels of complexity, sizes, and styles. Most dog puzzle toys come with compartments to store the best dog treats inside, providing a tasty reward for your puppy and giving them an incentive to solve the puzzle. Puzzles are a great accompaniment to your canine’s existing array of the best dog toys — check out our list below to see our favorite picks. 

The best dog puzzle toys 2024

How to choose the best dog puzzle toy

Dogs need mental stimulation as much as they need physical exercise. Keeping your pet pooch from getting bored will stop them destroying property, improve their mental health, and keep them entertained. 

When on the lookout for a dog puzzle toy, you need to think about what level your dog is at. If you have never tried your dog with a puzzle toy before it’s best to start off with a level 1 game, such as the HIPPIH Interactive Dog Ball. These are tough durable rubber balls that make it relatively easy to get a tasty treat. The Hide-A-Squirrel Squeaky Puzzle Plush Dog Toy keeps the challenge low, but is high on entertainment value, and is a definite boredom-buster for a dog who loves a game of fetch. 

For dogs who have already dabbled with puzzle toys, level 2 toys are a better choice. The Outward Hound Puppy Hide n’ Slide comes with 14 compartments to help stimulate your dog, and is the ideal option for your first foray into intermediate games. For a different challenge, the Outward Hound Dog Brick, Treat Dispenser for Dogs Training Funny Feeding, and Trixie Dog Activity Flip Board will give your fur friend plenty of stimulation and a reason to use both their nose, paws, and jaw to get their favorite tasty treat. 

Do dog puzzles really work?

Dog toys are great for giving your furry friend a physical workout, but they also need to exercise their brains too, and that’s where dog puzzles come in. As veterinary surgeon Rebecca MacMillan puts it, “Puzzle toys can be more engaging than a straightforward chew or rope toy, helping to exercise their brain differently. We often focus heavily on physical pursuits in dogs, and while this is important, so are other kinds of stimulation.”

Every type of dog can benefit from puzzles too, not just the traditionally more intelligent breeds. MacMilan says they’re especially great for “dogs that are resting after surgery or are on a restricted exercise regime, suffer from anxiety or boredom, and dogs that are very active or high energy.”

While it’s great to keep their minds sharp, don’t go expecting them to turn into puppy Einstein after a few puzzles. “There is no hard evidence that puzzle toys will improve your dog’s IQ, but we do know that they can help with their mental well-being overall and may reduce destructive behaviors”, explains MacMillan.

Likewise, don’t start them off with anything too taxing. “Start with simple ones, to begin with, and work your way up. This allows you to gauge your dog’s level and stops them from becoming overly frustrated by the toy if they can’t work it out.” says MacMillan. Also don’t be alarmed if your dog prefers simpler toys — every pooch is different and some just prefer chasing a ball around the garden.

Steve Jenkins is a freelance content creator and long-time journalist with more than 20 years in the industry. He has written for numerous titles covering tech to pets, with his latest faithful hound always by his side. When not walking his dog, or discussing who’s best - cats or dogs? Loud guitars, AFC Bournemouth, Photoshop, and trying to save the world take up the rest of this time.