3 Proven Dog Puzzle Toys That Reduce Anxiety

I remember the day I discovered dog puzzle toys for Ruby. It was about a month after I had bought the anti-anxiety vest and, even though I had found a great way to calm her down during her anxiety triggers, it seemed that even if I took her on walks to the park every day, she still had unlimited energy. She was only a 6-month-old puppy…

I had worked with a trainer that taught me scent games and the importance of activating a dog’s mind through their sense of smell to tire them out. So when I found puzzle toys on the internet I was super excited to try them out on Ruby.

Puzzle toys are a fun and healthy way to use the mind and blow off energy. When dogs are anxious, they create lots of energy which is why they tend to chew on things they shouldn’t, bark, jump up and down, etc. It’s scientifically proven that mental exercise is incredibly important for your dog, just as much as physical exercise. This is why I highly recommend having some puzzle toys to keep your dog engaged and will talk about some of my favorites.

What are some of my favorite puzzle toys?


The most well known of all the puzzle toys is the Classic Kong. There are different sizes that you can choose from depending on the size of your dog. You can fill it with their cheese whizz, peanut butter, treats, canned dog food… the options are endless. I like to stuff Ruby’s large Kong with canned food and freeze it for her dinner. It takes her about half an hour to finish it giving her plenty of mental stimulation as she problem solves how to get it all out of there.

I also buy the Kong treats and give it to Ruby as a snack if I see that she’s feeling active. This usually gives her something fun and delicious to do while using up the energy created by her anxiety.

This is a very durable toy that even a powerful chewer like Ruby can’t destroy. She still has the same one from when she was a puppy.

Nina Ottosson puzzle toys

I was looking for a new type of engaging toy for Ruby on the internet when I found these incredible Swedish dog puzzle toys. They have a variety of boards with varying difficulty. If your dog is a highly food motivated dog, I recommend the medium to high difficulty boards.

Many mornings I used to feed Ruby in this puzzle toy so that she would get mental exercise and eat slower. This was until I discovered the SLOW GOBBLER feeding bowls. Now, we usually use these puzzle toys as a treat or reward. Make sure to not leave your dog alone with the toy because it’s very probable that they will chew up the plastic. It’s best to give the toy when they can be supervised.

Food Tumbler

This is a newer toy we’ve discovered that attracts Ruby’s attention for hours. The Food Tumbler has a labyrinth design to keep dogs entertained by using their “hunting” skills. It promotes brain development since it makes them use their sense of smell to figure out how to get the puzzle toy to release the food or treats inside it. What we really love about this toy is that it’s eco-friendly and really easy to clean. It’s made from BPA-free, non-toxic and odorless plastic that is food-grade certified. 

Like with the other puzzle toys, it helps reduce anxiety and prevent destructive behavior by giving dogs a brain teaser and increasing their IQ

Conclusion: Dog Puzzle Toys

There are many reasons why dog puzzle toys are so important for the mental stimulation they crave like lowering stress and aggression, alleviating boredom and increasing IQ. This is why we recommend that every household with a dog has at least one to satisfy their dog’s needs.

Make sure that if you have one or decide to get one, you always supervise when your dog is playing with puzzle toys. Powerful chewers could destroy them quickly if their left to chew them up and could even be at risk of choking, so observe how they play with it to ensure their safety.

Let us know in the comments if you have a puzzle toy for your dog and if so what’s your favorite. 

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