While there has been an increase of puzzles being completed by humans during this pandemic, your dogs might also be interested in joining in on this increased puzzle time. Don't worry, I am not going to suggest that your pup join in with helping you piece together your puzzles. I am going to share with you puzzles that were created for dogs. These puzzles will stimulate your dog's mind, leading to a happy, tired, and content dog. This not only make's your dog's life easier, but your's as well.
All dogs are different which is why I have compiled a list of recommendations based off of not only my own experience, but other dog owners, dog trainers, and business owners in the dog world. I will share information about the puzzles and the dog personalities who love them.
1. Peyton & Brady's Recommendation
These are the two australian shepherds of Dogs Who Jog. They are new to the puzzle world but have both gravitated towards the Outward Hound Level 2 Dog Brick. These puzzles are rated by difficulty by level 1 (beginner), level 2 (intermediate), and Level 3 (advanced). We often use this puzzle for meal time. I rarely use it with treats. There are plenty of compartments within this puzzle for their entire meal to hide.
They are able to use and understand the level 2 puzzle which is why I know it is their favorite and why it is the one I would recommend to dog owners with dogs with a bit higher focus. There are also higher level puzzles recommended throughout this blog if your dog is looking for a greater challenge. If your dog is new to the puzzle world and has decreased focus, I recommend starting with the level 1 puzzle or keep scrolling through this blog for more options. Be sure to monitor your dog when using any of these puzzles as your dog may chew the pieces.
2. Ophelia & Hamlet's Recommendations
Ophelia and Hamlet are Dogs Who Jog clients. Along with their owners, they were the ones who introduced us to the puzzle world! Their personalities, focus (and energy) levels differ from one another which means they have two different puzzles to recommend.
Hamlet doesn't have the high energy level that Ophelia has (not many dogs could match Ophelia's energy level), but he has an increased focus level when it comes to puzzles and treats. He would work on his puzzles for hours and remained focused for his rewards, which is why he would recommend the Kruse Buster Food Cube Feeder for dogs looking for a challenge.
Ophelia has a high energy level and increased focus on her runs but has less patience and low frustration tolerance when it comes to her puzzles. She enjoys puzzles where she can use her paws and nose which is why she favors faster wooden puzzles with slides and doors such as the Ethical Pet Interactive Seek-A-Treat Puzzle.
3. Martinshire Farms' Recommendations
Martinshire Farms was founded by dog trainer Marquel Martin. Marquel has years of experience training dogs and years of experience with her own dogs. She has many different ways in which she chooses to work with her dogs to stimulate their minds which often includes challenging them to work on their commands. If you are looking for a way to stimulate your dog's mind without purchasing a puzzle, Marquel recommends a food scavenger hunt. To create this scavenger hunt, hide meal kibble all around a room and your dogs will have to use their senses and instincts to find it all.
4. Olympia Dog Training's Recommendations
Olympia Dog Training's owner, Kelly, shared that encouraging your dog to work for food is the best way to build a food drive which you can leverage for training. Working with your dog to provide mental stimulation is just as important (if not more important) than physical exercise which is why Kelly has a few different options she would recommend.
For more Olympia Dog Training Tips:
Olympia Dog Training on Facebook
Olympia Dog Training on Instagram
5. Pacific Hound's Recommendation
Pacific Hound owner, Aly, has three pups in her family with three unique personalities. She lists all of her favorite dog toys/puzzles on her Amazon list. Her family's favorite is the wobble ball. They will put breakfast or dinner in it and it usually takes her dogs 20-40 minutes of work to get all of the kibble out of the wobble ball. There is a little door where food comes out and you an adjust the level of difficulty.
For more Pacific Hound tips:
Pacific Hound on Instagram
Pacific Hound on Facebook
Shop Pacific Hound for High Quality Adventure Gear
6. Wag 'n' Tails Dog Trainers: Patti & Jordan
Dog trainers Jordan & Patti from Wag 'n' Tails Activity Center both have years of experience and recommendations for enrichment activities to share based off of their training experience and experience with their own dogs.
Trainer Jordan loves homemade enrichment because it is easy to access and easy to make. Jordan recommends placing your dog's dinner in a paper egg carton and letting him/her sniff it to find the kibble. It allows them to use their brain and senses — but as always, you will need to monitor them with it. This technique is often used in shelters.
Jordan's dog Yogi loves snuffle mats and the food scavenger hunts. He requires daily physical and mental activity which is often satisfied through these homemade enrichment activities.
Trainer Patti's pack includes two active and intelligent german shepherds, Enzo and Drey. Like Jordan, Patti also loves utilizing homemade enrichment activities. One of these activities includes making use of the outdoors in order to create a giant snuffle mat in the grass. Patti will place treats in the grass and Enzo and Drey will find them.
When Patti isn't creating her own homemade enrichment, she will utilize Outward Hound's puzzles for Drey and Enzo.
Thank you to all of these great companies, trainers, and dog families for the list of recommendations! Do you have a favorite puzzle/toy/enrichment activity that you would recommend?