10 Best Challenging Dog Toys for Mental Stimulation in 2024

Last Updated on July, 2024

Mental Stimulation is excellent in increasing your dog’s happiness and well-being, on top of that it grants him/her good confidence and allows to engage in natural behaviors.

Not only that, it nixes anxiety, boredom and frustration which is great for both you and your pooch.

Interactive dog toys can be excellent for these, they provide mental stimulation and combat everything I’ve mentioned above. Best of all, since these toys help your dog’s mental faculties, there is a high possibility Dementia can be prevented later in life.

All that is great until you start to go in search for some good mentally stimulating dog toys. Variety of options makes picking one hard and most of them are made with poor quality materials that are less durable and challenging to clean.

We’ve tested around thirty mental stimulation toys for dogs over the past few weeks and picked the best 10 out of those based on many crucial factors. 

So if you’re in the hunt for some of the best interactive dog toys, this article will be able to help.

Editor’s Choice
Twister Puzzle toy image
Twister Puzzle Toy
Cleaning Wise




Overall Score


#2nd Best Choice
Kong classic toy
Kong classic toy
Cleaning Wise




Overall Score


#3rd Best Choice
Outward Hound Hide
Outward Hound Hide
Cleaning Wise




Overall Score


Top 10 Most Famous Interactive Toys for Dogs

1. Nina Ottosson Dog Twister Puzzle Toy

Nina Ottosson puzzle toy is a mentally stimulating puzzle toy that helps keep your dog occupied.

The dog toy makes it challenging for your dog to find the treat.

The treat will be hidden inside treat compartments, and the dog will have to simply open the compartment and access the treat.

It keeps your dog occupied for hours.The game makes it interactive and exciting. It will stimulate your dog’s brain cells and keep him focused.

Doing this activity enhances the relationship between you.The difficulty level can be made harder by locking the blocks with bone-shaped pegs. It is considered a challenging puzzle, but most dogs figure it out. 

Nina Ottosson puzzle toy is made of plastic, making it easier for cleaning purposes. However, hidden treats must be taken out to clean the toy. 

Game is mainly recommended to be used for smaller breeds. It is made of polypropylene plastic making it light, and the toy weighs about 1.25 pounds. 

This fun challenge must be performed under your supervision. Do not keep the puppy unsupervised because dogs sometimes chew the blocks and choke.

However, another benefit of this game is that it does not contain any removable parts. Therefore, none of the pieces come out quickly, making it safer for your dog. 


Availability of three levels. 
No removable parts
It can be cleaned easily


Not suitable for dogs with short, fat snouts
Relatively expensive than the other types

2. KONG – Classic Dog Toy 

Kong classic toy is a chew toy and also called a treat-dispensing toy.

The more your dog chews, the more it dispenses treats, and your dog’s favorite treat can be inserted inside the toy.

Using a Kong classic dog toy reduces separation anxiety and other bad behavior as the toy mentally stimulates the dog.

This interactive dog toy also comes in handy when your dog is teething.

Unfortunately, it is hard to find durable rubber chew toys, and I can 100% vouch for Kong classic toys. 

The dog toy is recommended by veterinarians, trainers, and dog enthusiasts for over 40 years. KONG toys also have an interesting, unpredictable bouncing feature which makes your dog’s boredom disappear. 

This toy is made of rubber, making it easily washable. You can take the dog’s kibble out and wash it with warm water. The experts advise the toy to be used by large breeds. 


Serves a dual purpose as the toy can be even used to play fetch
The toy can be filled with dry or wet pet food


The toy is plastic; therefore, the dog must not be left unsupervised. Digesting plastic pieces could cause dangerous repercussions
Dry food tends to fall out of the toy quickly

3. Outward Hound Hide A Squirrel Plush Dog Toy

Dogs love hunting. Many dog parents recommend this toy because of the high demand by our little dog community.

Sometimes dogs enjoy toys with stuffed animals, which are better than plastic balls.

Outward Hound Hide stuffed animals are made of cloth that keeps the dog busy for hours. 

The Outward Hound Hide toy is a toy which comes with a stuffed tree trunk and three stuffed squirrels.

You must place the squeaky toy squirrels inside the tree trunk and let your dog hunt. 

This brings out your dog’s hunting instincts and is an excellent mental stimulation activity. Not only this, the toy is capable of catering for a different game. You could play your dog’s favorite fetch game by simply throwing the squeaky toy squirrels. 

Unlike most toys, the Outward Hound Hide toy is gentle on teeth, and this is one of the best brain stimulation dog toys ever. 


2 IN ONE interactive play
Gentle on the teeth and gum


The toy may not be comparatively durable enough, as it is made of cloth

4. Vitscan Food Dispenser Toy

The Vitscan food dispenser toy is a great interactive toy. The toy is a ball.

You can hide treats inside, and your dog can roll them or shake them, do anything they want to take the dog treats out. 

You can put any treat into this fun toy—dogs like these activities, which help with mental stimulation, keeping the dog entertained for hours. 

The rubber balls are better than other toys because they work as problem-solving games to exercise your dog’s mind.

Vitscan Food Dispenser Toy Image

The rubber balls are better than other toys because they work as problem-solving games to exercise your dog’s mind.

There is absolutely no risk of choking hazards. The Vatican food dispenser drops treat, and the dogs will eat them off the ground, making them safer and more accessible. 


Multifunction toy and excellent durability
Made of soft and hard rubber both


The toy is too small for more giant breeds
Not recommended for aggressive biters

5. Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Mazee

Planet Dog Orbee toy is an interactive puzzle toy. The toy dispenses treat, keeping the dog’s brain occupied.

The toy is made of the plastic interior maze and an outer tinted Orbee- Tuff Mazee. This is perfect for fast-eating dogs. 

This puzzle toy is a durable dog toy as it is made of plastic.

Planet Dog Orbee is a great outdoor play as the Orbee- Tuff Mazee is tinted and helps your dog spot the toy visually.

Planet Dog Orbee Tuff Mazee Image

Dog puzzle toys increase your dog’s IQ to a greater extent. So bored dogs will no longer be bored with this dog toy.

The toy can be easily washed, dipped in warm water and soap, shaken thoroughly, rinsed, and dry. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.


Challenging and creative design
Good size that fits many treats
It will keep your dog busy


The maze can be chewed at opening
Cleaning can be a bit tricky

6. Volacopets Interactive Dog Toys

Why give your dog just one when you can provide five toys at once? Volacopets Interactive Dog Toy comes in five different colors.

Your dog will love this toy, and this is one of the best durable chew toys you will ever get your hands on. 

These squeaky toys will take your dog’s boredom away in minutes.

In addition, the dog toy is made of healthy materials to ensure that your dog will not swallow plastic pieces, and dog owners often tend to worry about chewing toys for this reason. 

Volacopets Interactive Dog Toys Image

This colorful squeaky toy will keep the hidden treats inside until your dog finds a way to dispense them. If your dog is smart enough, it will notice the more you squeak, the more the treats he gets. Big or small dogs can use this. 

Another type of ball that comes with the Volacopets Interactive Dog Toy is the rubber ball and rope toy that can use outdoors. It is a great distraction to keep your dog from its past undesirable behaviors. 

Last but not least is the dental ball, which works as a teeth cleaner, and this works as an excellent puppy toothbrush chew toy. You can put toys inside the dental ball or apply smears of your dog’s favorite treats to make the toy even more enjoyable. 


Great durability
Restorative material and non-toxic
It can be played indoors and outdoors both


Recommended for large and medium dogs and not for small-sized dogs

7. Starmark Treat Dispensing Bob-a-Lot Dog Toy

Starmark Treat Dispensing Bob-a-Lot Dog Toy is an adorable dog toy. This treat-dispensing puzzle toy is great for your dog’s brain.

The toy has a large chamber to hide treats which can hold many treats in one go. 

The toy comes with an adjustable facility that can also accommodate larger kibbles.

The mental exercise your dog gains from this is beneficial as it improves your dog’s problem-solving abilities.

Starmark Treat Dispensing Bob a Lot Dog Toy Image

This dispense treats quite efficiently and leaves no room for boredom. All types of dogs can use it. The toy is not made of hard plastic, and the sound made by the toy is very minimal. 


It is helpful to slow down fast eaters
The toy has challenging levels
It has an anti-slip bottom


It takes time to fill 3 cups
Cleaning can be difficult

8. West Paw Zogoflex Qwizl Dog Puzzle Treat Toy

Here is a real hero for you to save all your household items from the naughtiest furry friend of yours.

This toy is for all dog parents with stubborn, aggressive chewers. I understand the pain you go through to save your household items. 

West Paw Zogoflex Qwizl Dog Puzzle toy is one the most interactive dog puzzles out of many other toys.

The curved shape of the toy is one of the star features as it makes it easy for the dog to handle. 

West Paw Zogoflex Qwizl Dog Puzzle Treat Toy Image

The chew toy keeps the dog interested for more extended periods, and they never get bored. This brightly colored toy can be used indoors and outdoors.

Highly recommended for more giant breeds as they are more aggressive than the rest. 


Easy for dogs to hold in place with paws
Dishwasher safe


Cleaning the treat off the toy is challenging

9. Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball

The Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball is an interactive toy that smaller and bigger dogs can use.

The ball comes in two different sizes, one which is 3 inches, the other is about 4 inches. 

You can fill the toy with a dog’s kibble and choose the level you wish, and it could be hard, medium or easy.

The toy can be easily cleaned and made of hard plastic, and you can disassemble the toy to clean it better using soap.

Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball Image

This promotes your dogs’ slow eating habits and stimulates the brain. 

Dispensing treats in this toy depends on how your dog rotates and rolls it. So it is up to your dog to figure out the form. This leaves the dog curious for hours, making it use its brain for a prolonged time. 


Solid build quality
Multiple difficulty levels 
Easy to clean


Not suitable for aggressive chewers
Small treats required

10. Paw 5 Dog Snuffle Mat for Dogs

Paw 5 Dog Snuffle Mat is one of the most effective mental stimulation toys ever.

The toy is a wooly mat; you have to put whatever the dog likes on the Mat.

The wooly feature in the Mat will do the job by hiding the treats. Then, the dog will do the nose work to play the game.

Any dog breed can use the Paw 5 Dog Snuffle Mat. It could be a tiny corgi or even a massive pitbull.

Paw 5 Dog Snuffle Mat for Dogs Image

The dog’s senses will help the dog to reveal treats that are inside the Mat.

Snuffle Mat serves a dual purpose. One is a mental stimulation toy, the other being a comfortable bed for your doggo. The Mat is made of 100% soft organic cotton fibers making it non-toxic and 100% pet safe. 

The Mat will keep your dog calm and away from destructive behavior, making it one of the best interactive dog toys that help with mental stimulation. In addition, dog owners have no stress cleaning this Mat as it is easily machine washable. 


Designed to imitate grass
Hides food better
Both long and short-nosed breed friendly


The size of the Mat is small
A little uncomfortable to be used by larger breeds

BT4D and Mental Stimulation Toys: A Match Made in Heaven

BTFD and Mental Stimulation Toys

BT4D (Brain Training For Dogs) is an online dog training program put together by Adrienne Faricelli, a renowned dog trainer with CPDT-KA certification.

The program not only helps with dog training, it also comes with a variety of brain games which will help improve your dog’s mental faculties leading to an overall well-behaved dog.

The program will help your dog’s brain to become more open and receptive to learning new information. Plus your dog will now understand what you’re trying to tell him even more.

And combining the toys recommended above makes everything way easier.

Below are some of the mental stimulation you’ll come across the program:

  • Shell game
  • Bottle game
  • Magic carpet game
  • And a lot more… 

BT4D is full of surprises and benefits, you just need to try it to experience it. Learn more about BT4D here.


Things to Look for Before Buying Mentally Stimulating Toys for Dogs! 

Many dog parents do not know what to look for before buying mentally stimulating dog toys. Here are a few things to keep in mind before purchasing treat toys.


The smart dog toys you buy should be durable enough to survive your dog’s bites, huffs and puffs. A product that will break easily is of no use because you will have to buy one after another.

Also, dogs sometimes do not like to switch between toys and might lose interest as they spend considerable time trying to figure out the toy themselves.


Maintaining smart dog toys should not be difficult, but before buying mentally stimulating dog toys, check how you can wash the toy. So often, dog parents complain about dog toys emitting foul odors as cleaning is impossible.

So do check the user manual or the box for cleaning methods and purchase a product that can be easily washed. 

Price and Brand 

Before purchasing interactive play toys, always do your research or seek veterinary advice. Certain brands and brain stimulation dog toys are harmful to dogs, and I am sure none of us wants our dogs to get any negative experiences from a toy. 

The price is also something that you should be cautious about. Most of the time, agents or sales associates will try to sell off at exorbitant prices so always keep in mind to seek reliable sales associates when purchasing your dog toys.

Difficulty Level

When purchasing a mentally stimulating toy, you must always look at the difficulty level of the toy. If your dog is a beginner, starting from a manageable level is always better and walking up the ladder. On the other hand, giving a hard-core dog toy at the beginning might lose interest at the beginning itself.

DIY Enrichment Toys That You Can Make At Home to Keep Your Dog Entertained 

diy enrichment toy for dogs

Here are a few creative enrichment toys you can easily make at home to make your dog more intelligent and sharper! 

Food Tube Dog Puzzle 

These simple dog puzzle toys can be made by using extra toilet paper rolls and a shoe box or any box that is hard and big enough. First, roll the toilet paper and place them on the box; next, you can hide your dog’s favorite treats inside the paper. Viola

You can follow this video for more clarity and better instructions in making the toy: 

Muffin Tin Dog Puzzle

To make this, you need a muffin tin and a few tennis balls and do not forget to grab some dog treats too! Take the muffin tin and place treats in a few muffin tins. Cover the top of the muffin tins with a tennis ball. Then let the dog play with this interactive puzzle. 

DIY Lick Mat

Do not argue, but I know your dog loves licking mats with food smears. I mean, isn’t that what they do all their life? Lick whatever that is on the floor? So grab a silicone mat or trivets, ice cube trays or anything that is not harmful to the dog.

Apply peanut butter or any other type of treat on it. Let the dog lick it leisurely. This is a fun challenge for them and also promotes slow eating.

Benefits of Using Mental Stimulation Toys for Dogs

A woman giving Mental Stimulation Toys for Dogs

I have already covered many benefits of using mentally stimulating dog toys. But to make things easier, I will summarize some of the most important benefits below. 

Mental Stimulation

This is by far the most important benefit out of all. Because stimulating the dog mentally improves the dog’s quality of life.

This mental stimulation is caused by all types of toys with hidden treats or by a treat-dispensing toy, puzzle toys and any kind of mentally stimulating dog toys. Playing these makes your dog sharp and intelligent. 

Better Problem Solving

Playing a puzzle toy improves the dog’s ability to solve problems. It is a direct result of improving cognitive skills that will essentially enhance the dog’s capacity in problem-solving that can be used in day-to-day situations. 

Reduced Stress and Anxiety 

Good mental stimulation is a great way to relieve stress. Sometimes even though you do not notice, your dog could be stressed by many things.

Such as not having your attention, or it could be a squirrel on the letter box. When dogs play with their new toy, there is no time for stress or anxiety. 



Final Thoughts 

Before I wrap up my article, I want to tell all dog parents one thing I always mention. You might have many people in your life, but your dog has just you! You are its world. Do not forget to give good love and affection to your dog. 

The number one mental stimulation toy for dogs among the many I mentioned in the article is Nina Ottoson Dog Twister Puzzle Toy. Many dog parents and trainers have always recommended this toy for effective and best results. 

You can squeeze more out of these toys when combined with Brain Training For Dogs, which can also be great for improving your dog’s behavior and more.

Never punish your dog unreasonably for destructive behavior. The cause of violent behavior is always a result of poor mental stimulation. Excessive barking, running around, and causing trouble at all times are a few examples of an attention deficit dog’s actions.

Do not wait until it gets worse; always be one step ahead. Get your dog the best mental stimulation dog toys and keep it occupied, curious and busy. This way, you can improve its undesirable behaviors and groom your baby into a better dog.

Nina Ottosson puzzle toy
Twister Puzzle toy image




Overall Score


Availability of three levels
No removable parts
It can be cleaned easily
Get the BEST PRICE valid until the end of July
Not suitable for dogs with short, fat snouts
Relatively expensive than the other types

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Thomas Villalpando
Thomas Villalpando is the main author of Dogs Academy. He spends his time reading, training, and working with several Dogs' behaviors. He has been featured in MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Sun, Entrepreneur & More. You can find more about him here.

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