Best Toys to Mentally Stimulate Your Puppy

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We all know that to stay healthy, dogs need a balanced diet and plenty of exercises. Unfortunately, most dog owners ignore another important factor, mental stimulation. Your puppy may love showing his strength in a game of tug-of-war or chasing after a tennis ball, but his body is not the only thing that needs regular exercise. Animal experts and trainers say that mental stimulation is as essential as physical stimulation.

Dogs are highly social animals that thrive with members of the pack. They get bored easily when left alone and require a distraction to occupy their time or else they can suffer from a range of issues including destructive behavior, separation anxiety and depression. They are intelligent pets that are just as much brain as they are brawn. Canine intelligence can be developed and honed with a little work.

The problem is that most modern dog owners lead very busy lives, and their pooches often end up spending a good portion of the day home alone. Unfortunately, you can’t quit your job to cuddle with your furry companion all day long. The key lies in mental stimulation. So how can you mentally stimulate your pup’s mind to prevent boredom and encourage a happy, healthy life? There are countless mind stimulating toys, IQ balls, hide-and-seek toys, snuffle mats and puzzles for puppies.

Mental stimulation can come in various forms from positive reinforcement training games to food and puzzle toys. The dog toy market has exploded with interactive toys that are highly recommended to help enhance a well-balanced temperament, making pups a lot easier to train and helping reduce canine behavioral issues brought about by boredom and frustration.

Selecting the right interactive plaything for pooch can be challenging with so many options available. Each interactive dog toy has its unique advantages over others. To help make your decision easier, we have prepared a list of 6 best toys to mentally stimulate your puppy. Understanding what these types of puppy toys are and the benefits your dog can derive is vital.

The 6 Best Toys to Mentally Stimulate Your Puppy

Keep boredom at bay with the following brain busting toys:

West Paw Zogoflex Tux Interactive Treat-Dispensing Chew Toy

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West Paw Tux Tough Dog Chew Toy Large (Tangerine)
  • Extremely tough and durable treat dispensing dog toy
  • Stuff or freeze favorite treats inside to keep them entertained and stimulated
  • 100% Guaranteed against dog damage by Manufacturer
  • Made in America, recyclable and dishwasher safe
  • Safe. BPA-and-Phthalate-free, non-toxic and FDA compliant

Topping our list is the Zogoflex Tux interactive toy that we believe draws its inspiration from the Classic Kong. Chewing is a natural instinct for dogs, and the act itself can provide your pooch with both physical and mental stimulation. The Zogoflex Tux toy has 3 balls attached centripetally and is perfect for reward-based dog training. You will see a hole under the ball and this is where the dog treats (meaty bits, biscuits, nut butter) are supposed to come out. Even when emptied, the fun doesn’t end there. The toy bounces, flings and hangs tough through chew sessions to accommodate all styles of play. Being buoyant means that it’s perfect for water-related activities. Available in 3 different colors, this toy is BPA-and-Phthalate-free, non-toxic and FDA compliant. The ultra-durable material is USA-made and dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.

KONG Wobbler Interactive Dog Toy

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Wobbler Large
  • Dispenses food and treats for hours of fun; prevents rapid eating
  • Entertaining wobble action
  • Twist off dispenser; easy fill
  • Made in the USA
  • Measures 7 x 6 x 10.5-inches; suitable for dogs weighing 25-pounds or more

Yet another treat dispenser on our list is this action-packed interactive dog toy from KONG. Part of the famous KONG line, this classic toy will provide hours of fun as your pooch struggles to get their treats. It is upright until your pooch pushes it with his nose or paw. The dispenser spins, wobbles and rolls to dispense tasty rewards. It satisfies your pup’s natural instincts to hunt out food and in the process offers mental stimulation. The gradual dispersing of the treats means that your dog will use a lot of effort to get them. This boredom buster unscrews for easy filling and cleaning. It is dishwasher safe and made of sturdy, food-grade polymer construction.

Our Pets IQ Treat Ball Interactive Food Dispensing Dog Toy

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Our Pets IQ Treat Ball Interactive Food Dispensing Dog Toy (ASSORTED COLOR)
  • Fill with your dog's favorite treats, promoting active and healthy feeding
  • Adjustable feeding difficulty levels continue to challenge your dog as they learn
  • As your dog plays and the rolls the ball, treats will fall out to reward them for being active
  • Twists apart for easy cleaning
  • Ideal for small to medium sized dogs (colors may vary)

This treat ball is a fun rendition of a slow feed ball that combines a puzzle and dog toy into one, to reward your pup for being active. The exterior is designed from durable hard plastic that spills your pup’s favorite treats or kibble when tipped the correct way. To continue challenging your puppy as they learn, there are adjustable feeding difficulty levels. For easy cleaning, the ball twists apart. This ball is ideal for small to medium sized dogs.

Nina Ottoson Dog Brick Treat Puzzle Dog Toy

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Nina Ottoson Outward Hound Dog Brick Treat Puzzle Dog Toy
  • EXERCISE YOUR DOG'S MIND - This treat puzzle dog toy provides fun physical & mental stimulation for your dog
  • REDUCE BOREDOM & DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR - Complete with 3 totally different treat feeding features, the Nina Ottosson Dog Brick is made with easy open-close flip compartments & removable bone puzzle pieces
  • MAKES FEEDING FUN & INTERACTIVE - This treat puzzle dog toy can be used to feed your dog dry kibble for an engaging mealtime
  • LEVEL 2 GAME - The Dog Brick is a level 2 treat puzzle dog toy that is great for dogs that enjoy treat games
  • EASY TO CLEAN - Hand wash with soap and water, rise and dry

Your pup won’t experience boredom with this level 2 game by Nina Ottoson. It is shaped like a board and is made from durable material that is easy to clean. There are 20 different open-close flip compartments which you can use to hide treats or kibbles. There are 3 separate problem-solving tricks. To get at the treats, your pup has to flip, slide or pull off the covers. The more covered compartments, the harder the puzzle will be. You also get 4 removable bones and 8 slidable pieces. To ensure that your dog knows what is hiding inside, there are scent holes.

TRIXIE Pet Products, Mad Scientist Toy

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Trixie Mad Scientist for Dogs, Level 2
  • Set includes a base with frame and 3 beakers and 2 sets of patterned lids
  • Step 1: place treats in beakers
  • Step 2: leave lids off until flipping and then balancing beakers is mastered
  • Step 3: place lids with patterned holes on beakers
  • Step 4: mix and match lids for an added challenge

One of the interactive dog toys you might want to get for your pup is the Mad Scientist for dogs. This dog puzzle toys from TRIXIE is designed for special little dogs. It is sure to stimulate your puppy’s problem-solving skills. The set includes a base with a frame, 2 sets of patterned lids and 3 beakers. The lids come with sizeable holes that allow treats to be dispensed. Your dog’s job is learning to flip the tubes to make the treats slide through the holes. To make the game challenging for your pooch, you can mix and match the lids. The sturdy, non-slip and stable base is strong enough to keep your pup from tipping it over. A booklet with all kinds of tricks and tips to help you train your pooch is included in the package.

Outward Hound, Hide-A-Squirrel Puzzle Plush Toy

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Kyjen HideASquirrel Ginormous
  • HIDE & SQUEAK FUN: Fill the Hide A Squirrel dog activity puzzle tree trunk with Squirrel stuffed dog toys and let your dog sniff, hunt and fetch them.
  • CUTE ANIMAL PLUSH: The Hide & Squeak dog puzzle game comes with squirrels with hidden squeakers your dog won't be able to resist!
  • CHALLENGING PUZZLE: An attached trunk top makes it trickier for your dog to remove the plush stuffed toys from their home. Watch as your dog learns to nuzzle its way in to reach the prize!
  • BOREDOM BUSTER: Bored dogs can become chewers - however indestructible your home. This hide and seek game challenges your dog's brain, keeping bored dogs occupied for hours!
  • INTERACTIVE PLAY: This plush squeaky dog toy puzzle is also ideal for interactive dog games with you - get your pet to retrieve the stuffed Squirrels, and start again!

This interactive toy is sure to stimulate your pup and keep him amused for hours. Your pooch will find multiple stuffed squirrels hiding in holes in a single fluffy tree stump. Your pooch is supposed to hunt them down and pull them out. Each squirrel has a large squeaker inside it as an added reward. You can use the removable squirrels or purchase extra squirrels if you wish and use them for toss and fetch games. Available in 4 sizes (SMALL, MED, LARGE and GINORMOUS), Outward Hound ensured that all dog breeds are catered for. If your pooch is no big fan of squirrels, you can try out Bird, Bee and Hedge characters.

PRO TIP: Remember to keep a variety of pup toys on hand and swap them out every few days. If your puppy plays with the same toys every day, he will eventually get bored.

Conclusion

Providing appropriate mental and cognitive stimulation for your puppy while allowing them to be happy is essential. When your puppy has plenty to occupy their mind, they’re better-off mentally and less restless. Some dogs need more mental stimulation than others. For this reason, most interactive dogs toys have adjustable components to make them easier or harder.

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