If you have a dog with a short attention span, dog puzzle toys are a great options to keep them busy. No one wants to come home to a mess, so invest a little time and money in something for both you and your pet!

Enrichment is key to keeping all dogs busy and happy. Puzzle toys come in all shapes and sizes, but they do not necessarily have to be about finding food. You can purchase most of these dog puzzle toys for an affordable price online or even make them yourself at home! If you have a dog with separation anxiety or a pet that is destructive at home, you should have more than one of these available to keep life interesting. 

Frozen Kongs and Pupsicles

A Kong is said to be one of the most indestructible dog puzzle toys available. You can fill with it with food and treats. Freezing them keeps the dog busier for even longer! Treats can also be frozen in water and made into a pupsicle in a bowl or dish. Click here for some amazing “stuffing” recipes that are canine approved!

Black dog licking Kong on the floor with his paw holding the Kong.

Puzzle Feeders

Puzzle feeders are used to feed fast eaters, encouraging them to eat a little more slowly. Measure the kibble for the meal and disperse over the puzzle. The dog should be able to flip over, twist, or remove parts of the puzzle to reveal the food! It may take a little training in the beginning, but they will be so excited to learn how to search for their own food everyday! You can also make one of these by drilling holes in a PCP pipe with closed ends. 

Dog with food dispensing toy for dog food.

Snuffle Mat/Ball

A snuffle mat is an easy DIY project to make for a dog that loves to sniff. Take a rubber bath mat with holes in it. Next, tie a bunch of fleece fabric to each hole until it looks like a rug. You can also do this with a rubber ball with holes in it. Before you leave, hide a bunch of treats in the fabric and let your dog go to town. It should keep them busy for quite some time. Keep in mind that this might not be the best puzzle toy for a dog that eats or rips fabric. 

The Muffin Tin Game

If you have a couple muffin tins and tennis balls at home, you can set this up for your dog right before you leave them. Place treats in each of the holes in the muffin tin and place the tennis balls over them. This can be very entertaining for dogs who are delicate and do not know how to play with enrichment yet. Others may just want the tennis balls or tip the whole tin right over! 

Hidden Plush Puzzle

If your dog cannot have treats or is more toy-motivated, there are also hidden toy puzzles like the Hide-A-Squirrel. This one consists of a plush tree with plush squirrels the dog can pull out and play with. There are many variations of the toy, and you could even make something like it at home if you feel like a sewing project!

Black dog with a green bamboo toy that has small pandas that can be pulled out of the bamboo.

The welfare of your dog will be greatly improved by any of these choices. Remember that dogs appreciate novel items and puzzles, so try not to use the same one everyday! You will come home to a happy, enriched companion who will not mind that you were gone for a while because they were busy having fun!

Learn more tips and tricks for your pet here.

Author

Caitlin is originally from Vermont and has been working with animals since she can remember. She studied Behavioral Neuroscience and is now Mastering in Animal Shelter Management in Colorado. Her hobbies include horseback riding, fostering animals, and hiking in the Rocky Mountains. She has volunteered at five different animal shelters and worked in three different vet hospitals. Her passions include animal health, behavior, and enrichment. Caitlin also spends time taking high-quality photos of shelter animals to help them get adopted faster.

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