Our favorite enrichment toys to keep your dog's brain busy and entertained during a summer heatwave
You can never have too many enrichment activities especially puzzle toys–during a heat wave. With temperatures too high to go outside for much of the day these last few weeks, the doggos have been doing lots of indoor sniffing, chewing, rolling and chomping.
If you could use some more independent occupations for your pups, here are a few of our favorite puzzle toys with a mini review from our resident testers :
😎 PLAYER 1: Gemma
Senior, 11 yrs
📶 Life-long experience with brain games and puzzle toys
MO: nose and paws
TENACITY: Lunchtime! That looks good! Let’s sit down for a proper meal. – What time is it? A snack, at this hour? Have you no culture?
😎 PLAYER 2 Ban
Junior, 1 1/2yrs
📶 New to brain games and puzzle toys
MO: teeth all the way
TENACITY: Gimme all the things now!
Our favorite puzzle and enrichment toys for dogs
🦷👅 Chewing, licking enrichment
✅ Soft food, freezer-suitable, stuffable
➡️ West Paw Toppl
GEMMA: Ah, so much less effort than working through a Kong, much appreciated. Can I have a refill please? 👍👍👍
BAN didn’t get to try it yet: the Topple has more open sides to gnaw on and ridges in the bottom that he would likely try to remove. Next level.
➡️ Zogoflex Tux
BAN: Don’t bother me. In the zone for an hour.
➡️ Classic Kong
GEMMA: Let’s see what’s in it. Can I throw it and stuff falls out? Amazing! Do I have to lick it? This better be worth it. What, you want me to chew this? That seems like an excessive effort.
BAN: Is that stuffed with chicken? I will do whatever it takes to extract this nourishment from its prison.
🧠 Puzzle toys
✅ Roll, nudge, bounce
✅ Kibble or dry treats
➡️ Kong Gyro
GEMMA: A bit like herding treats. Could do this all day.
BAN didn’t get to try it yet: the Gyro isn’t all that resistant to tooth attack. 😬
➡️ Kong Wobbler
GEMMA: I love it when I can give things a proper nose punch and then they spit out food.
BAN: What is this? That hole is way too small to fit my tongue in and you can’t bite this wobbly thing at all? This is dumb. Hold on, did something just fall out when I bumped it? Woah!!
➡️ PetSafe Busy Buddy Twist ‘n Treat
GEMMA: Annoyingly twists and wobbles but doesn’t move much. Better than a nap.
BAN: Hypnotizing rotation and steady returns on effort. Better than staring at the wall.
➡️ JW Hol-ee Roller Treat Ball
GEMMA: This one ticks all my boxes: you can pick it up with your teeth and throw it, roll it down stairs with your nose and hold a paw on it before it gets away.
BAN didn’t get to try it yet: The Hol-ee Roller has lots of chewy corners that make it not the first choice for a dog who tries to solve puzzles with his teeth first. Next level. 😬
➡️ Planet Dog Snoop
GEMMA: First you lick out all the stuff on the bottom. So easy, right. Then there’s like two or three that just won’t come out no matter how much you throw it or push it. Difficulty spike. Rage quit!
BAN didn’t get to try it yet: the Snoop is very soft and would likely be chewed apart very quickly, giving Ban the wrong message on how to solve the puzzle. Maybe next level, maybe just not for him. 😬
➡️ Trixie Dog Activity Snack Ball
GEMMA: You push it. It rolls. Treats fall out. Big whoop. If you try to have some fun and push it harder, it ends up under the couch. Game over. Meh.
BAN: I know there is food in there. I’m sure if you just chomp it long and hard enough it will cede to my powerful jaws.
👅🐽 Sniffing, licking enrichment
✅ Soft food, paté, puree, mash
➡️ LickiMat Buddy
GEMMA: Pairs well with ground chicken or salmon as a starter.
BAN: And when I’m done licking it I will eat the mat so nothing goes to waste.
✅ Kibble, dry treats
➡️ Snuffle mat
GEMMA: So relaxing. Almost as good as real grass. Almost.
BAN: Figured it out. Pulling and shredding those annoying little bits of fabric is how you get to the treats. 😬
✅ Chew toys that work as holders for long-lasting chews such as bully sticks
➡️ Jolly Pets Flex-N-Chew Squarble
➡️ West Paw Quizl
GEMMA has the Quizl, BAN gets the Squarble. Neither one of them uses it as a chew toy. Once the actual chew is gone, they have no interest in the toy itself. 😐
Both toys work pretty well to hold long lasting chews such as bully sticks and dried beef tendons so that the dog can’t swallow–and choke on–the last bit in one go.