Interactive Puzzle Games For Cats and Dogs
Interactive puzzles games for cats and dogs aren’t a new concept. If you have ever been to a zoo you’ll probably wonder why the polar bears food is in a block of ice. This is called enrichment! Enrichment in the form of puzzle toys is gaining popularity among pet parents in recent years. Why? Many pets lack the same daily enrichment they would receive if they were in the wild. Puzzle games are a great way to mentally stimulate your pets. They also can help slow down fast eaters to prevent scarf and barf.
Tips for Picking a Toy
- Make sure the toy is the appropriate size: A Great Dane might not be able to figure out the puzzle, but they surely can pick it up and drop it. Effectively rendering the puzzle toy concept useless.
- Start at a lower difficulty: If your pet has done puzzle toys in the past it’s okay to start with a higher difficulty toy. If your pet is new to puzzle toys, start off with an easier toy.
- Experiment with what is in the toy: Some pets go nuts for puzzle toys when a specific treat is inside. Others may only use it if dry food is inside. Try different rewards and see which ones your pet likes the most.
- Supervise when giving a new toy: It’s important to see how your pet interacts with a toy. Supervise them to make sure they are using the toy properly and to give them a helping paw if they seem to be getting frustrated.
- Show them how to do it: Putting a puzzle toy in front of a pet may work but often times with more complicated toys, you may have to show your pet how they work.
Toys we Like
Here are 6 toys for dogs (and cats) to keep the enrichment coming.
1. Outward Hound
Outward Hound makes quality dog and cat puzzle games. Developed by Nina Ottosson these toys are designed to stimulate your pet mentally and give you a well deserved break. Outward Hound interactive puzzle games come in four different difficulties. Perfect for beginners!
Catit makes fun interactive puzzle games and feeders for cats. I have a few of these and have found varying success. The Senses 2.0 Digger is my cats least favorite while the Senses 2.0 Food Tree is their favorite.
Want more things your cat can’t live without? Check out our 5 products every cat needs in their life blog.
You’ve heard of this one! KONG toys are a simple puzzle game and a classic option for any dogs toy box. Did you know they also make KONGs for cats? KONG usually goes on sale during Black Friday. If you’re looking to pick up a bunch of these for a great deal keep an eye out.
While not as interactive as some of the other games, LickiMats provide stimulation for your pet and help them slow down when eating. Great for pets that do a lot of canned food since not all puzzle toys are designed for wet food.
You can see more LickiMat’s here.
5. Snuffle Mats
What is a snuffle mat? A snuffle mat is designed to help mimic your dogs natural instinct to put their nose to the ground, sniff out food, and to dig. There’s loads of snuffle mats on the market so experiment with different ones.
I don’t recommend snuffle mats for larger dogs. They often can pick the mat up by an edge and shake out the kibble. While this still gets them working for the food (running around a room), it’s messy and defeats the purpose of the snuffle mat.
6. Activity Mats
Similar to snuffle mats, these toys provide a variety of ways to interact with the toy. The one pictured below by Outward Hound contains a small snuffle mat, a hidden pocket, and a loop-&-lock type enclosure. The same deal applies to this as a snuffle mat, not a huge fan of these for larger dogs that can brute force everything.
Homemade Puzzle Toys
If you’re feeling crafty you can make some very simple puzzle toys on your own.
Looking for more? You can check our Pinterest board for more ideas. We’re constantly pinning new ones as we find them. We also include fun, DIY furniture and gifts in that board.
What’s your pets favorite puzzle toy? Let us know in the comments or @WetNosesPetSitting.