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Best Food/Puzzle Toys for Dogs’ Mental Stimulation

Here at Citizen Canine, we believe that happy, healthy dogs need a balance of physical exercise, healthy diet, rest, love, social interaction and MENTAL stimulation. That last one is often overlooked by most pet owners.

Mental stimulation can come in many forms from positive reinforcement training games (tricks, agility, flyball, nosework, freestyle etc) to food & puzzle toys. Our dogs are smarter than we give them credit for. Working their brains for 30 minutes can tire them out just as much as an hour of physical exercise.

Our staff have tested out and recommend the following food & puzzle toys with their own dogs, but would love to hear about any other recommendations! We carry many of these toys in our retail area and recommend them for anyone who owns a high energy dog.

1) Nina Ottosson’s line of interactive dog games (Casino, Spinny, Tornado etc)

These are some of the best toys on the market if you want to literally ‘see’ your dog thinking and problem solving. However, they do require you to interact and play the game WITH your dog. These are not toys that you can just leave your dog with. But they are a great bonding activity to work on with your dog and then show off to all your friends, family and coworkers!\
2) Canine Leo Genius

These rubber bowling pin shaped toys are a wonderful way to feed your dog their daily meals. Interlocking two or three toys together rapidly increases the difficulty for your dog and can keep them occupied for hours trying to get the last couple kibbles out.

3) Tug-A-Jug

This is another great food toy. It’s much easier to fill than the Leo Genius’ but owners with hardwood floors may not like it’s hard plastic construction. The level of difficulty on this one is mid to high without much ability to change. This makes it hard and potentially frustrating for dogs who are not used to using their brains much. But it’s been wonderful to watch my two bully breed dogs figure out their own very different techniques for extracting their kibbles out of the Tug-A-Jug.
4) Buster Cube

Another hard plastic food toy, that is cube shaped but with a maze of compartments inside that randomize the distribution of kibbles as your dog plays with it. Again, it can be noisy for households with hardwood. However, keeps my dogs engaged for at least an hour each meal.
5) Talk-to-Me Treat Ball

Similar concept as the Buster Cube, but this is ball shaped and includes a recordable voice feature that is comforting and encouraging for your dog when you leave them with this toy and go to work. They spend an hour or so working on getting their breakfast kibble out while hearing encouraging recorded sounds of your voice and then nap the rest of the day until you return.  If they wake up mid-day, they can go back and nudge the ball to hear your voice and maybe get rewarded with the last bits of kibble left from the morning.