Some breeds were created to stay busy. Sheepdogs, herding dogs and hunting dogs can get bored easily and resort to destroying things or excessive barking and pacing as a means to relieve that extra energy. While nothing really replaces daily exercise, providing mental stimulation can make these dogs calmer because they suddenly feel like they have a job. “While these dogs make great family pets because they are very intelligent and intuitive, they require a higher amount of focused attention—which they don’t always get, especially in families with kids,” says Brad Nierenberg, a dog blogger at PawsitivelyBradleyNierenberg.com. “Puzzles and interactive toys can help give them a task and a problem to solve, which keeps them happier than a simple game of fetch or tug of war.” This is important because dogs that “need a job” have a problem-solving mindset and will find puzzles very satisfying. When you’re looking for something to do, you might find yourself reaching for a puzzle. Once started, hours can go by while you’re focused in. We do puzzles for mental stimulation and the reward of finishing it! Luckily for you, your dog can now join in on the fun. Dog puzzles are an interactive activity that can make your pooch work for his treat. These games can keep your dog busy for long periods of time, because, just like you, your dog will want to work hard to beat the challenge.
Dog puzzles are a great toy choice because they provide mental stimulation, hours of entertainment, and fun for your pet!
What are dog puzzles?
You may be wondering, what exactly is a dog puzzle? Just like with human puzzles, dog puzzles are created to stimulate your dog’s intellectual skills and help them with their problem solving. The puzzles can come in many different forms that range from simple hide-and-seek to lifting blocks, putting shapes in their correct slots, sliding bricks, or turning discs. All puzzle options are meant to provide your dog with a challenge and cater to their love to play.
The perks of puzzling
There are many reasons you should try a dog puzzle! Some of the best reasons are listed below.
Correcting behavioral issues and preventing boredom
Dog puzzles are a great way to keep your dog from gnawing on your furniture and ruining your household items when they are bored. If they are misbehaving, try giving them a puzzle! Bored dogs become hyperactive, which in turn creates bad behavior. Puzzle toys can cure boredom, which helps tame dogs with excess energy and avoids the development of behavioral issues later. By incorporating these games into your dog’s daily routine, you can train your dog to behave instead of leaving them to their own devices to make their own fun. In addition, puzzles are great for keeping your pup entertained when you don’t have the time to play. Just make sure you are monitoring them as many puzzles are not fully chew-proof.
Bonding with your pet
Dog puzzles can help you bond with your pet because you get to be right there alongside them when they overcome a challenge! While your dog can solve these solo, the bond between the two of you will surely become stronger if you solve it together. Figuring out a puzzle is such a rewarding experience for your pet and he or she will be so glad you were right there to experience it with them. A stronger relationship will manifest itself in many positive ways and make your dog more obedient.
It’s much easier to train a tired dog than one that is restless and bored. The mental activation that these puzzles provide will work to tire your dog out, making them more susceptible to learning new things. Doing a puzzle will actually make it easier for them to focus on training afterwards!
Helps prevent weight problems
The two biggest causes for weight gain are overeating and under exercising. Dog puzzles require your pup to engage in activity before receiving food. Depending on the puzzle you choose, your dog can get some movement in while they’re solving it.
How can you involve puzzle toys in your dog’s routine?
Every dog requires a different level of daily mental stimulation, but a good rule of thumb is to provide your dog with at least 15 to 30 minutes a day. An easy way to achieve this is to hide treats in different puzzle toys and allow your dog to work to find them.
Dog puzzles are truly a wonderful creation because they can be introduced to any dog, no matter their age or activity level. That being said, certain kinds of puzzles will be more effective for certain dogs. Puppies should start with short, simple games that require a lot of interaction with their owner. While they are solving the puzzle, make sure to give them lots of praise and positive reinforcement. For our senior or injured dogs, puzzles that make them work with their nose as opposed to their feet might be easier and more enjoyable for them. Sometimes it’s
hard to keep an injured dog from running around and making their injury worse, but puzzles are a good activity that can keep them still while still allowing them to get some energy out!
Some great puzzles to try
There are tons of awesome dog puzzles out there that do different things, which are great if you are leaving them alone for a few hours! If you’re having trouble sorting through the options, refer to some of our top picks to help you make your choice.
Kong Classic Dog Toy
Kong toys have been around for a long time because they are simple yet effective. These fillable rubber toys can keep your dog busy for hours. Just be sure to fill the center with a treat such as dog-safe peanut butter and you’re good to go!
Green House Dog Snuffle Mat Pet Puzzle Toy
This is a great beginner puzzle to try out on your puppy. Hide treats throughout the mat and let your dog sniff them out! They will have to move a few felt flaps, but overall it should be very easy for them to get the hang of. These puzzles are great starter toys because they allow your dog to get used to the game and aren’t so difficult that your pup becomes frustrated and gives up.
SPOT Seek-a-Treat Flip’ N Slide Treat Dispenser
For the pups who have moved past the beginner stages and are ready for something more on the intermediate level, try the seek-a-treat toy. Treats are hidden under lids and your dog must slide a large button next to it to open the lid. This toy is mentally stimulating and a fun challenge!
Trixie Flower Tower Activity Strategy Game Dog Toy
This one is for the puzzle experts. The flower tower is a dynamic toy that can be made more or less difficult by removing the cones. It features multiple levels of slots, sliders, and cones that reveal kibble or treats. This toy is a great way to provide intellectual stimulation and slow down fast eaters.
Interactive brain games can eliminate boredom, strengthen the bond between you and your pet, and increase your dog’s confidence and happiness. Have fun and get puzzling!