Skip to main content

Get reimbursed on your pet's routine care with Mint Wellness by Pet Assure! Enroll Today >

Sit. Stay. Read.

Exercise Your Dog’s Mind with Puzzle Toys

Interactive puzzle toys offer a plethora of benefits to puppies and adult dogs.

January 11, 2022 4 min read
Exercise Your Dog’s Mind with Puzzle Toys

While caring for your pet’s physical health is of the utmost importance, don’t overlook their mental health. Dogs greatly benefit from new learning experiences and challenges. Mentally stimulating your pet helps burn off excess energy, lower stress levels, and improve mental stamina. It can also help treat common canine issues, such as separation anxiety and poor behavior caused by boredom. Like humans, dogs can strengthen their mental capabilities with engaging and interactive puzzle toys.

Benefits of Puzzle Toys for Dogs

Puzzle toys are designed to stimulate your down’s mind and encourage the development of problem-solving skills. The use of puzzle toys in your dog’s daily routine can keep him busy for hours and provide both physical and mental benefits.

Here’s a look at some of the top advantages of puzzle toys for dogs:

Alleviate Boredom

You may not always have the time or energy to play with your pup. Puzzle toys and games can help alleviate your pet’s boredom and promote independent play. Giving your dog an outlet for his excess energy can also help deter boredom-related mischief.

Prevent Anxiety

Does your dog suffer from general or separation anxiety? You may find puzzle toys beneficial in helping your pet stay calm and relaxed. Dogs that remain busy and focused on an activity are less likely to react to stressful situations, such as their owners leaving them home alone.

Encourage Positive Play

Puppies are notorious for causing trouble. They commonly chew, lick, roll, or dig items or surfaces that capture their attention. Puzzle toys provide young puppies with a safe and healthy activity that curtails their curiosity. Dogs with access to cognitive toys are less likely to engage in negative behavior.

Deter Dementia

Similar to humans, dogs can experience dementia during their senior years. Common symptoms of canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) include unusual sleep cycles, barking for no reason, anxiety, accidents in the home, changes in personality, or withdrawn behavior. Pets need to exercise their brains to ward off common issues like memory loss and reduced cognitive function. Puzzle toys are an excellent tool that encourages your dog to think and develop problem-solving strategies.

Promote Happiness

Puzzle toys and games can be fun for dogs, increasing their happiness and overall well-being. Not all dogs enjoy regular dog toys like plushies or squeaky toys. Puzzle games provide an alternative form of entertainment for pets of all ages.

Types of Puzzle Toys for Dogs

There are many different types of puzzle toys on the market for dogs. Some dogs respond better to certain types of puzzles, and some of these games are more challenging than others.

One of the most common dog puzzle toys consists of several hidden compartments filled with kibble or treats. These types of puzzles require the dog to slide, tip over, or lift pieces to find the hidden food underneath. Pet owners can make this game more challenging by only hiding one treat in the puzzle. The dog must then use his keen sense of smell to determine where the treat is hidden.

A snuffle mat is another common puzzle toy that forces dogs to use their incredible sense of smell. The enrichment activity features a play mat where food can be hidden in the grass-like strands. Your dog will then have to use his natural hunting instincts to explore the mat and find the tasty morsels. Snuffle maps provide both a physical and mental workout.

Licking mats are also commonly recommended for pets due to their numerous health benefits. These mats are excellent for spreading healthy, natural, or organic treats and can be used for both cats and dogs. Licking mats help soothe and calm pets through licking as your pet navigates the many nooks and crannies in the mat to retrieve a reward. As a bonus, licking mats aid in good digestion by forcing your dog to slow down while eating.

Other types of fun puzzle toys for dogs are hide-and-seek toys. These toys are often found in plushie form and contain a larger toy with smaller toys inside. For example, a hide and seek toy may include a large bee nest filled with small plush bees. Hide-and-seek toys help deter boredom by encouraging your dog to shake, move, and pull out the small toys from inside the large plushie.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

While there are many benefits to dog puzzles for dogs, there are some things to consider when using these interactive toys and games.

  • Supervise your pet while they play with puzzle toys. Some toys are not meant to be chewed, and excessive biting or gnawing could result in loose pieces that pose a choking hazard.
  • Look for high-quality, safe, durable, and non-toxic puzzle toys that are more likely to withstand excessive wear and tear.
  • When giving your pet puzzle toys that contain any food or treats, use caution not to overfeed your pet. Interactive feeders are a great way to make mealtime more engaging but avoid giving your dog too many extra calories.
  • Do not let puzzle toys replace spending quality time with your pet. Only use puzzle toys to occupy your pet for short periods, and do not use them as a substitute for love and care.

Remember that even the best puzzle toys can become boring after a while. Consider advancing your pup to more challenging toys over time.

Ready to start saving money on pet wellness care?

Then take a look at Mint Wellness, the pet wellness plan that provides fast reimbursement on routine pet care. Save on vaccinations, wellness exams, preventatives, dental, and more!

Learn More