What Are The Benefits Of Dog Puzzles?

A dog attempting to complete a dog puzzle to earn a treat

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Dogs are intelligent animals which constantly need mental stimulation and engagement to keep their minds alive and active.

While physical exercise is essential for their overall health, mental stimulation is equally important to ensure their well-being.

Interactive toys games, and puzzles are designed to challenge and engage dogs’ abilities. These puzzles offer a range of benefits that go further than entertainment. Interactive toys can enhance problem-solving skills and provide a range of advantages for their mental and emotional well-being.

In this article, we delve into the benefits that can be had from using dog puzzles and how they effect your dogs mental health.

What are the benefits of puzzles for dogs?

Veterinary behaviorist say that mental stimulation is essential for a healthy dog free of stress and anxiety. If dogs don’t receive the exercise and stimulation they need, they can develop bad habits like excessive barking, boredom, chewing and aggressive behaviour.

Dog puzzles and stimulating toys are a great way for dogs to be engaged for longer periods of time or to keep them calm when their excited. But here are some other benefits of using puzzles and interactive toys:

1. Stress relief and anxiety reduction

Dogs, like humans, can experience stress and anxiety. Puzzles can occupy dogs and channel their energy and focus their minds, helping them relax which can reduce stress.

Solving puzzles requires concentration and can redirect their attention away from anxious thoughts or behaviors. Dogs can also have a sense of accomplishment and the reward they receive from solving a puzzle can also boost their confidence further reducing in stress and anxiety.

2. Preventing destructive behaviours

Dogs may engage in destructive behaviors, such as chewing, biting or ripping on furniture. Boredom in dogs has also been linked to excessive barking, so it’s best to give them something to do.

Puzzle toys provide an engaging energy burner, helping prevent these destructive behaviors. By offering mental and physical stimulation, puzzles keep dogs occupied and satisfied, which reduces their boredom levels and their unwanted behaviours.

3. Problem solving skills

Dog puzzles present dogs with challenges that require problem-solving skills. They need to figure out how to beat the puzzle to gain the treat or reward.

Through problem solving, like humans, dogs develop and sharpen their cognitive abilities and expand their minds. They learn to analyse toys and situations, choose what to do, and experiment with different strategies. These problem-solving skills can be transferred to other areas of their lives, improving their adaptability.

4. Physical exercise

While puzzles primarily focus on mental stimulation, many puzzle toys incorporate physical elements as well.

Dogs may need to use their paws, nose or move puzzle pieces to solve them. This physical engagement provides an added benefit of exercise and uses energy. Puzzles can also be beneficial for dogs who may have physical limitations or when outdoor walks or play activities are limited.

5. Mental incentive

Another benefit of dog puzzles is the mental stimulation they offer. These puzzles require dogs to think complete the tasks.

By engaging their minds, puzzles prevent boredom and can occupy dogs for a long time. Puzzles or stimulation toys may also be beneficial for dogs with neurological problems or old age. Even simple games like flipping boxes can widen a dogs mind and give them something to do.

Good products for bored dogs

We all want our furry companions to lead happy and active lives. However, there are times when dogs may experience boredom or loneliness (typically when alone), which can lead to restlessness, bad behaviors, or even a decline in their overall health and well-being.

Fortunately, I have combined a list of a few interactive products which are known to help reduce boredom in dogs and give them something to occupy them!

The Kong dog toy

The Kong which is recommended worldwide by vets, trainers and dog enthusiasts has featured on this site before. Having previously used the Kong, I’ve been impressed with how an interactive chew toy can make a difference to my dogs play times.

The Kong comes in many sizes and is designed to hold treats or food. The dog must then use their initiative to access the treat, whether they chew the toy or squeeze it out.

The mental stimulation comes from your dog chewing and using their energy to retrieve the treat, which can take a bit of time if your dog hasn’t figured out a way to get it!

The Outward Hound Interactive

Interactive toys are a great way to keep your dog busy. Toys like Outward Hound Interactive are designed to engage your dog’s mental and physical abilities. Providing them not only with something to do, but mental stimulation and entertainment.

This toy works by your dog using their nose to sniff, slide and flip the blocks to reveal the treat. The game is very rewarding if your dog can smell the treat.

Interactive toys like can also help alleviate separation anxiety. Dogs that may experience distress when left alone can benefit from interactive toys that keep them occupied and provide a sense of companionship. These toys can help distract dogs from their anxiety and provide a source of entertainment which can reduce stress levels.

The Outward Hound Slow Feeder

Slow feeders like Outward Hound’s interactive feeder are highly beneficial for dogs due to several reasons.

One of the key advantages of using slow feeders is their ability to prevent choking and regurgitation. When dogs eat too quickly, they tend to swallow their food without properly chewing it, increasing the risk of choking or damaging their digestive system. By using a slow feeder, the dog is forced to eat at a slower pace and take smaller mouthfuls, allowing them to chew their food properly.

Low profile slow feeders are better for flat-faced breeds like Bulldogs or Pugs as the tray makes it easier to eat a meal at a healthy pace.

Slow feeders also occupy dogs for longer period of time and to eat the food they must use their initiative rather than just scoffing the lot!


Q: How can I calm my dog?

Calming you dog down can be better for their well being. Here’s what I usually do:

  • Read their body language – How they feel, are they happy, stressed or anxious?
  • Affection – Showing them physical affection can stimulate dogs
  • Enough exercise – Experts suggest that exercise can seriously effect your dogs mental health. Make sure they get enough!

Q: Can toys stimulate dogs?

Yes, chew toys can provide mental stimulation and help with physical developments in dogs and can positively impact their behaviours. By keeping your dog occupied, chew toys can help solve separation anxiety, teething and boredom.

Q: Are interactive toys good for puppies?

Yes, interactive toys and puzzles are great for puppy development. Puppies are eager to learn about their surroundings, interactive toys can provide mental stimulation and grow their minds.

Interactive toys can also serve as a teething relief and a way to burn energy. Puppies require chewing toys to build healthy and strong gums. Plus, puppies need regular and often exercise, interactive toys which involvement movement and play can help burn some excessive energy. These toys can be especially helpful if you don’t have time to walk them or take them to play sessions from. But remember exercise is important for dogs!

Q: What are the best interactive toys for dogs?

Toys which allow movement, mental stimulation and chewing are great for your dogs development. The stimulation keeps them busy, the movement keeps them active and chewing helps them build strong teeth and gums. Overall, interactive toys keep your dog mentally and physically satisfied.

Q: Do toys calm dogs down?

Yes, some toys and interactive puzzles can calm dogs down. Studies have shown that toys can calm down and lower anxiety in dogs whilst giving them something to do. The mental and physical stimulation can help dogs grow their minds whilst making them feel calmer.

Olivia Williams

Olivia Williams is a keen writer and has spent 6+ years writing professional, research-based content. Specialising in everything home related, whether that’s smart home products or pet goodies, she has an extensive knowledge on home appliances, dogs and safety products with a lot of reviewing experience. Before joining ThirtyBlue Media, she wrote content for her own website. 

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