Dog puzzles serve a number of positive purposes. Not only do they stimulate thinking and reasoning, they can also help build a closer bond between pet and owner. Additionally, they can keep bored dogs busy while in their crates, give them something to do during the day when you don’t have time to give them your undivided attention and even help fast-eating dogs slow down a bit, leading to better digestion. When shopping for dog puzzle toys, consider the following factors.

Top Pick

This pooch brain teaser has no removable parts and is easy to clean. Outward Hound

The difficulty of the puzzle toy you choose will often depend on how smart your dog tends to be. If he’s not good at figuring out basic things around the house, you’ll probably be better off with something rudimentary. If you have one of those valedictorian-type dogs, a much more complicated puzzle toy will keep him occupied better, bringing him more fun and you peace of mind.

Durable Design

This brain game is made of a sturdy composite material and is made to last hours. Outward Hound

Some dogs are just rougher on toys than other dogs are. If you have a pooch that is real chewer, you’ll want to be sure to choose a puzzle toy made out of a sturdy material so it doesn’t get destroyed in the first few uses. Many toys are made of hard plastic, and that works fine. But, keep an eye out to make sure your dog isn’t ingesting any small pieces that could cause digestive problems. If your dog is having a hard time figuring out a puzzle toy, show him how to do it a couple of times. It probably won’t be long before he figures out how things work and can do it by himself.  

Easy Transport

This helps train your pup’s sense of smell and it has a non-stick bottom, so it won’t slide around as they play. AWOOF

One last thing to consider is nutrition. Most puzzle toys for canines involve some kind of reward for solving them—generally a treat. But, many veterinarians report that snacks can be a major cause of canine obesity. When playing with puzzle toys, don’t get carried away and do it so much that your dog gets more calories in than he needs. On average, dogs shouldn’t get more than about 10 percent of their daily calories from snacks. Check the label on treats carefully and try to stick with ones your dog likes but that don’t give him or her excess calories each time you play.