Dog Favorites: Puzzle Toys

Over the past year I acquired one too many dog toys for my Luna girl. In the beginning, I was just buying whatever I saw at PetSmart that looked fun, but as time went on and I learned more about dogs and their behavior, I realized that it made more sense to invest in toys that were going to help keep Luna engaged and entertained for longer than 5 minutes and were actually giving her a workout.

Luna is one of the most playful and needy dogs I’ve ever known; and it gets tiring. Real fast. I was initially walking her for a total of 4+ miles over the course of the day and she was still too hyper for me. I did my best to engage with her by playing with her and working on training but I’d get frustrated and exhausted after 30 minutes with no relief. I had a lot of dog mom guilt when I just gave her a treat and told her to keep herself busy. I felt like I should be doing more to keep her entertained. But I soon figured out through working with a trainer and hearing about friends’ experiences with their dogs that dogs need just as much mental stimulation as they do physical (walks, running, playing with other dogs and cuddling with you, etc.). Thats where PUZZLE TOYS come in! So today I’m going to do a run down on some of Luna’s favorites that really keep her attention AND tire her out mentally. At the end of each summary I’ll give you my rating for 3 aspects of the toys: level of difficulty, durability and cleanup.

 

  1. Starmark Everlasting Bento Ball
  2. WestPaw Zogoflex Interactive Treat Dispensing Dog Toy
  3. Gamechanger
  4. Starmark Pickle Pocket

Alright lets start with the Bento Ball. I have recommended this toy to a few other dog parents and have heard back that its been a lifesaver. When I was first researching puzzle toys, I wanted to make sure I was spending my money on toys that a) would last long and couldn’t be chewed through with easy cleanup and b) I could replenish or add extra levels of difficulty. This toy has the option where you can not only fill it up with treats or kibble, but also purchase additional treat “discs” that Starmark calls “Everlasting Treats” (basically some form of rawhide/treat). This disc slides into the opening of the Bento Ball and if you put additional kibble inside of the ball, then the dog must chew through the entire disc in order to get to the kibble. So theres a dual purpose to this toy and keeps Luna engaged for a while. We actually have started putting half of her kibble in this (without an extra Starmark Everlasting treat disc) for her breakfast and dinner and this tires her out pretty quickly. While she has learned the way the puzzle works, if its stuffed full of kibble she has no option but to be patient and take her time getting every treat out of the small holes. Success!

Level of Difficulty: 3
Durability: 5
Cleanup: 5

The WestPaw Zogoflex toys are pretty great, but less of a challenge for my Luna. This toy is 2 cups of varying sizes that slide and hold together. You put the treats inside one half then place remaining half into or onto the first half, thus enclosing the treats and it becomes a ball that will roll around while your pup tries to get the treats out. As with any puzzle, once the dog is familiar with it, it loses it challenge. Initially it was a challenge mainly because its not very ergonomic for doggy paws and will wobble about a lot, but once the dog gets their mouth around one side of it, its not too hard for them to pull the remaining cup out and release the treat(s). Something I didn’t realize at first about this brand is that they are guaranteed; as long as you have the boxing that it came with you can return it if your dog damages it at all.

Level of Difficulty: 1
Durability: 5
Cleanup: 5

Starmark Pickle Pocket is another favorite around here. Luna sometimes will just take the pickle and throw it around the apartment without treats in it just for fun. Any type of treat will fit into the 3 sleeves/pockets of the pickle and the pickle is flexible enough that as long as the dog has a hold on it they’ll be able to pop the treats out. To create more of a challenge, place larger treats into the pockets or place them deeper into the pockets. The one complaint I have about this toy is that it becomes awkwardly sticky after Luna chews on it and it will collect dust and dog hair on/in it. It is dishwasher safe though!

Level of Difficulty: 4
Durability: 4
Cleanup: 4


Gamechanger
is a hit with Luna and a few other dogs I know; I actually just ordered one for us because its one of the first toys Luna wants to play with when visiting her doggy friends’ house. This toy operates similarly to the WestPaw Zogoflex treat dispensing toy; you have two pieces that must be put together to hold the treats in place. This toy has two small holes where kibble or treats can be dispensed from as the dog toys with it and flips it over. Since we have not yet received this toy I’m not entirely sure how durable it is but I will come back and update this post once I have a better review!

Level of Difficulty: 5
Durability: ?
Cleanup: ?

And there you have it folks. I’m sure I’ll be doing more “doggy favorite” posts in the future regarding treats, training or toys. I hope this post was helpful for those looking for dog toy recommendations. If anyone has recommendations of other puzzle toys their dogs love, feel free to share/link them down in the comments! I will leave you with a derpy photo of Luna sleeping. Hehe.

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