5 Must-Try Brain Stimulating Toys For Dogs

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It’s no secret that interactive dog play (like fetch or tug of war) is good for your dog’s physical and emotional health–but you can’t always be there.

Luckily, you can give your dog interaction when you’re away with these 5 brain stimulating toys for dogs.

Written by Becca Choi, a passionate dog person and proud plant mom living in sunny Los Angeles.

Her first ever pet was a lovable Husky-Shepard mix named Marley, but her favorite breed will always be dachshunds!

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Snuffle Mats

If your dog hasn’t tried a snuffle mat, that’s about to change.

Snuffle mats are one of the best interactive puzzle toys to stimulate your dog’s senses and their brain!

It’s important to know that when dogs have a hard time figuring out a puzzle toy, they might get discouraged and give up.

So, consider a snuffle mat that has a range of difficulty levels for your dog, like this Stellaire Chern Snuffle Mat.

When choosing a snuffle mat, look for something that’s machine washable. After all, the best dog toys have perks for humans, too. 

Snuggle mats are a great first puzzle toy for dogs and puppies who have never tried them before!

The KONG Classic Chew Toy

What dog doesn’t love a toy that’s stuffed with food? 

When it comes to KONGs, there are tons of options out there to choose from, but the KONG Classic is a truly timeless toy for your furry friend.

It’s durable, stuffable, and entertaining.

Because of the KONG Classic’s wonky yet bouncy shape, it jumps around unpredictably.

So, your dog can enjoy a game of fetch by themselves!

This brain stimulating toy comes in a variety of different colors and sizes, and KONG makes versions for older dogs and puppies too.

The Tug-a-Jug Slow Feeder

Really, any treat-dispensing toy is likely to be a win.

This Tug-a-Jug toy by PetSafe is a unique contraption made of a tug rope, a teeth-cleaning chew toy, and a plastic jug filled with any dry kibble of your choice.

Toys like this are great because they’re easy to wash (you can’t say the same about most dog toys), come in a variety of sizes for any dog breed, and you can use it to feed your dog an entire meal (as long as they have the toy figured out already!).

Hide-and-Seek Plushies

Hide and seek plushies are popular dog toys, and they’re great for dogs who love to chew on soft things like blankets.

Here’s how they work.

You put the smaller plushies inside a larger plush container.

Then, you let your dog discover how to get the smaller toys out! 

It’s a fun game of hide-and-seek that your dog can play on their own.

I love this “Donut Disturb” Plush Dog Toy Set. It comes with a plush coffee cup container and three donuts with squeakers.

And if donuts and coffee aren’t your style, there are limitless options out there–even some adorable dinosaurs in a volcano!

Be mindful that these plush toys are best for small or medium-sized dogs, and heavy chewers should stay away! And, you should always pay attention to what’s inside to ensure your stuffed toys are safe for your dog.

Doggy Activity Boards

Dogs are naturally curious (and naturally hungry) animals.

Put a plastic puzzle board filled with kibble in front of them, and they’ll start to investigate.

When shopping for puzzle boards, it’s important to acknowledge your dog’s skill level.

Here are my recommendations for each level:

Beginner: Slow Feeder Food Puzzle

Intermediate: The Dog Tornado Spinner

Expert: The Dog Casino

The Best Brain Stimulating Toys for Dogs 

There are lots of amazing puzzle toys out there for your dog, and these 5 options are my favorite!

But, you don’t have to limit yourself when shopping for brain stimulating dog toys as long as you consider a few things like:

  • Your dog’s specific needs
  • How much food you want to put in a toy (if any)
  • How easy a toy is to clean
  • How long a toy will last

All of the toys on this list check these boxes for me, so I recommend starting with them if your dog is new to puzzle toys.

Photo by Mathew Coulton