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8 Best Dog Toys for Smart Dogs – Reviews & Top Picks of 2021

Best Slow Feeder for Smart DogsMost dog owners understand the importance of physical exercise, but did you know mental stimulation is also crucial for raising a healthy pooch? Puzzles make up some of the best dog toys for smart dogs, but finding the ones that are actually worth your (and your dog’s) time isn’t always easy.

Instead of going through countless puzzle toys in the search for one your dog actually enjoys, we’ve compiled reviews of the top puzzle toys of 2021. With eight popular puzzle toys to choose from, you’re sure to find one that’s a perfect fit for your best friend.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Outward Hound Puzzle Brick Dog Toy Outward Hound Puzzle Brick Dog Toy
  • Feature iconIncludes three puzzle varieties in one toy
  • Feature iconFill with high-value treats or kibble
  • Feature iconEasy-to-clean
  • Best Value
    Second place
    PLAYAY IQ Treat Toy Ball PLAYAY IQ Treat Toy Ball
  • Feature iconVersatile toy with or without treats
  • Feature iconMade from non-toxic materials
  • Feature iconGreat for small and medium breeds
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    SNiFFiz Snuffle Puzzle Toy Mat SNiFFiz Snuffle Puzzle Toy Mat
  • Feature iconEncourages nosework
  • Feature iconCustomizable difficulty level
  • Feature iconIncludes five different puzzle styles
  • Tarvos Dog Food Puzzle Toy Tarvos Dog Food Puzzle Toy
  • Feature iconWorks with kibble and treats
  • Feature iconNon-toxic and easy-to-clean construction
  • Feature iconSlows down mealtime for healthier digestion
  • TRIXIE Pet Products Trixie Activity TRIXIE Pet Products Trixie Activity
  • Feature iconSlows down eating for better digestion
  • Feature iconMultiple puzzles in one design
  • Feature iconInterchangeable challenge levels
  • The 8 Best Dog Toys for Smart Dogs

    1. Outward Hound Puzzle Brick Dog Toy – Best Overall

    Outward Hound 67333

    The Outward Hound 67333 Ottosson Puzzle Brick Dog Toy combines the allure of mealtime with a mind-working puzzle. This puzzle toy features three different ways to work your dog’s brain, including lifting, sliding, and opening different compartments to access their favorite treats. You can also fill this toy with kibble, to turn breakfast, lunch, or dinner into a fun problem-solving experience.

    This puzzle toy is made from easy-to-clean plastic and is categorized as a level 2 challenge, so it’s great for dogs that whizz through easier challenges. The puzzle is an excellent choice on rainy days or just when your four-legged friend needs something to keep them occupied.

    This dog toy features several small removable parts, so it should only be used with constant supervision. Also, the parts are far from chew-proof.

    • Includes three puzzle varieties in one toy
    • Fill with high-value treats or kibble
    • Easy-to-clean
    • Level 2 difficulty is perfect for smart dogs
    • Ideal for small breeds
    • Small parts pose a choking hazard for large dogs
    • Plastic isn’t very durable
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    2. PLAYAY IQ Treat Toy Ball – Best Value


    The PLAYAY IQ Treat Toy Ball offers a unique puzzle experience for dogs who love to chase, fetch, and chow down on treats. As one of the best toys for smart dogs for the money, this toy can be used with or without the puzzle component for hours of fun. Each ball is made from soft, non-toxic plastic and features plenty of openings to tuck in your pup’s favorite treats or kibble.

    This puzzle treat ball is the perfect size for small and medium breeds. While larger breeds can play with this toy, they should only do so under constant supervision. Unfortunately, the soft plastic construction means this toy won’t stand up to moderate or heavy chewers.

    • Versatile toy with or without treats
    • Made from non-toxic materials
    • Great for small and medium breeds
    • Soft plastic cleans around teeth and gums
    • Plastic is extremely easy to chew
    • Too small for larger breeds
    • Only features one type of puzzle
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    3. SNiFFiz Snuffle Puzzle Toy Mat – Premium Choice


    The SNIFFiz SmellyMatty Snuffle Puzzle Toy Mat might not look like your typical puzzle, but it’s one of the most stimulating brain games you can put in front of your dog. Not only does the mat offer plenty of hiding places for your pup’s favorite snacks, but it makes them rely on one of their strongest senses: their sense of smell.

    This toy comes with a large snuffle mat and five different types of treat-hiding puzzles. It also has an anti-tip base for large dogs and can be tailored to your dog’s preferred difficulty level.

    If your dog isn’t interested in nosework, then this snuffle mat probably isn’t the best puzzle out there. Also, many dogs find the soft fabric perfect for shredding.

    • Encourages nosework
    • Customizable difficulty level
    • Includes five different puzzle styles
    • Anti-tip design
    • Fabric material isn’t very durable
    • Not all dogs enjoy nosework
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    4. Tarvos Dog Food Puzzle Toy


    Many dogs eat too fast when offered food in a regular bowl. The Tarvos Dog Food Puzzle Toy combines a slow feeder with an interactive puzzle element for healthier mealtimes and mental stimulation. The feeder includes a traditional slow-feeding bowl on the bottom and an elevated wheel that your pup can turn to dispense kibble or high-value treats.

    Each puzzle is constructed with durable, non-toxic, and eco-friendly plastic. The non-slip bottom also means this toy won’t slip and slide while your dog eats. However, the smaller size generally makes this feeder a no-go for anything but toy and small breeds.

    • Works with kibble and treats
    • Slows down mealtime for healthier digestion
    • Non-toxic and easy-to-clean construction
    • Non-slip base
    • Small design
    • Difficult to refill
    • Lightweight and easy for dogs to tip

    Related Read: 11 Ways to Give Your Dog More Mental Stimulation

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    5. TRIXIE Pet Products Trixie Activity

    TRIXIE Pet Products 4591

    The TRIXIE Pet Products 4591 Trixie Activity is another excellent product that combines a slow feeder with a puzzle toy. Each toy comes with a stand, three beakers, and two different sets of beaker lids. Your pooch can retrieve treats or kibble from the slow-feeding base or by tipping over the uncovered beakers. You can also add lids to the beakers for an added challenge.

    Depending on the size of your dog’s treats or kibble pieces, they may get stuck in the holes. Also, this puzzle toy is quite top-heavy and prone to tipping over. Although this puzzle is great for toy and small breeds — and cats, too! — it won’t work with medium or large dog breeds.

    • Slows down eating for better digestion
    • Multiple puzzles in one design
    • Interchangeable challenge levels
    • Too small for many breeds
    • Easily tips over
    • Treats often get stuck inside

    You may like: Outdoor Dog Toys – Our top picks!

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     6. LC-dolida Smart Dog Puzzle Toy


    The LC-dolida Smart Dog Puzzle Toy is a great choice if your small dog or puppy is just learning how to solve puzzles. This brightly colored toy features several sliding puzzles that are perfect for hiding kibble or high-value treats beneath. If your pup tends to gobble their food, then this toy can also easily double as a slow feeder.

    This puzzle is made from durable, non-toxic, and eco-friendly PVC material, which is extremely easy to clean with normal soap and water. However, the lightweight design means this puzzle isn’t a great fit for dogs who are rough with their toys. This toy’s biggest drawbacks are its small size and the inability to ramp up the difficulty over time.

    • Colorful, attractive design
    • Perfectly sized for puppies and small breeds
    • Easy to clean
    • Very simple puzzle
    • Easy to knock over or pick up
    • Not suitable for medium or large dogs
    • No way to increase the difficulty
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    7. Nina Ottosson Dog Smart Puzzle Toy

    Nina Ottosson 67331

    The Nina Ottosson 67331 Dog Smart Beginner Puzzle Toy is a unique take on the popular sliding toys on the market. Instead of sliding individual pieces to access the hidden reward, your dog must pick up or flip pieces out of the toy to get to the treats. This puzzle toy can be adjusted to provide the perfect challenge level for your dog over time.

    This level 1 puzzle is great for young dogs and those who have never solved puzzle toys before but is too easy for more advanced problem-solvers. However, it can also double as a slow feeder for improved digestion.

    • Unique puzzle element
    • Adjustable difficulty level
    • Doubles as a slow feeder
    • Level 1 puzzle is too easy for many dogs
    • Only includes one type of puzzle
    • May be too small for some dogs
    • Removable parts may present a swallowing hazard
    • Hand wash only
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    8. SPOT Seek-a-Treat Flip ‘N Slide Dog Toy

    SPOT 5779

    If your dog desires constant stimulation, then the SPOT 5779 Seek-a-Treat Flip ‘N Slide Dog Toy is a nice alternative to more popular puzzles. While this puzzle toy looks like most others at first glance, its unique compatibility with other Connector Puzzles means you can customize the problem-solving experience to your dog’s exact needs. Each puzzle is made of easy-to-clean, durable plastic and features a variety of sliding and flipping puzzles.

    Unfortunately, the extremely small design of this puzzle toy means it’s only suitable for very small dog breeds. Also, smarter dogs will likely become bored with this toy after just a few sessions. While this makes a great starter puzzle for younger dogs, the challenge won’t last long.

    • Designed for dogs’ unique color spectrum
    • Durable and easy to clean
    • Connects with other puzzles
    • Extremely small design
    • Treats can get stuck in openings
    • Simple puzzle difficulty
    • Compartment covers don’t stay shut
    • Poor value for the cost
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    Out of the many puzzle toys reviewed here, our top choice is the Outward Hound 67333 Ottosson Puzzle Brick Dog Toy. This classic puzzle toy offers several elements to keep your pooch busy and work their problem-solving abilities.

    If you’re looking for the best puzzle dog toy for the money, then the PLAYAY IQ Treat Toy Ball wins our vote. This puzzle toy offers the most versatility for the price since your dog will have just as much fun playing with it, whether it’s filled with treats or not.

    Whichever puzzle you choose for your own four-legged companion, there’s no shortage of new and exciting puzzles hitting the market for your dog to solve. While we hope our reviews have helped you choose the perfect puzzle for your pup, don’t forget to keep their brain stimulated by investing in fresh puzzles from time to time.

    Does your dog love to solve challenging puzzles? Or do they tend to get bored if they can’t figure something out? Let us know in the comments below!