No matter how smart your dog already is, canine intelligence can be honed and developed with a little work. By using things like IQ balls, puzzles, hide-and-seek toys, snuffle mats, and other
mentally-stimulating dog toys, you can continuously increase your dog’s mental capacity, and keep them entertained all day long. If you’re on the hunt for the best toys for smart dogs, there are tons of different options to choose from.
When beginning your search, keep in mind your dog’s size and its breed. Obviously, some
toys are better for smaller dogs and puppies, while other toys are built with thicker, stronger material, and designed for big dogs.
A well-kept secret? Most interactive dogs toys have adjustable components or ways to modify them to make them easier or harder. That means, you don't need to look for one that specifically works for your dog's level of intelligence, so long as you pick a toy that can be adjusted to suit your pup.
And, because your pup will continue to get smarter as they age, investing in mentally-stimulating toys you can customize will allow them to stay your pup's favorite toys for years to come. With all of that in mind, here is a list of the
best toys for smart dogs to help morph your simple pooch into a furry Einstein.
The Best Puzzle Toy For Smart Dogs: Outward Hound Nina Ottoson Dog Treat Puzzle
Designed to increase mental stimulation and boost your pup's IQ, this challenging
puzzle toy features an assortment of 20 treat compartments with removable lids that you can customize to different levels of difficulty. There are three options for your dog — they can either flip the lids, pull them, or slide them open. It comes with soft bone inserts you can use to make it tougher as your dog gets better at the game. The toy is lightweight enough that pups of all sizes can play and it's easy to clean with simple soap and water. What dog owners say: "Finally...a challenge for my dog! We have a ton of dog puzzles and my dog has figured out how to solve most of them in less time than it takes me to fill them up! This one actually takes him some time because the red boxes not only open, but slide once he gets the white bones out of the way. He popped a few of the tops off of the red boxes, but they popped right back on. SO happy with this puzzle!"
The Best Treat-Dispensing IQ Ball: Our Pets IG Treat Ball
IQ ball is constructed with durable, non-toxic plastic and features an easy-twist opening mechanism so you can fill it with your dog's favorite snack. Just fill it with food or treats and throw it across the room — the small hole will slowly dispense food as it rolls, challenging your pup to continue playing with it until it dispenses all the treats. Your pup will love pushing it around and chasing it across the floor to try to get the treats out. You can even adjust the difficulty level by making the opening bigger or smaller. This toy also comes in it comes in two different sizes, so no matter how big or little your pup is, you can find one that works for them. Nearly 7,000 Amazon reviewers rave over this toy for smart dogs. What dog owners say: "I have a border collie-corgi so she's super smart and inquisitive and she loves this ball. It's really sturdy and makes her work to get a treat out- great for me because it keeps her distracted while I do something else. The. All is hard plastic so I wouldn't leave her at home alone with it just incase she somehow is able to break it."
The Best Apparatus Toy: TRIXIE Pet Products Mad Scientist Toy
3-D apparatus — dubbed the "Mad Scientist" — provides multi-dimensional entertainment for your clever pup. Mimicking a set of science beakers, the toy showcases containers with small holes in the lids that dispense treats when tipped over. However, they have to paw them at the right angle to get them to come out. You can start with the lids off to get them accustomed to it and then, once your pooch gets the hang of the game, add the lids to create new levels of difficulty for your pup. As your furry friend improves even more, you have the option of rotating through other mix-and-match combinations. What dog owners say: "Cats AND dogs love playing games with it. Good investment into the mental health of an animal."
The Best Hide-And-Seek Toy: Outward Hound Hide-A Puzzle Plush Toy
With over 7,000 reviews on Amazon, this wildly-popular
hide-and-seek toy is full of various squeaky animals that you can stuff into the tiny house. From there, your pup will love burrowing in and attempting to retrieve them from the house. Because each toy squeaks, the sound further keep dogs engaged while they dig, burrow, chew, and nuzzle to try to extract the tiny creatures. You can also hide treats inside to add extra motivation and interest. It comes in four sizes and several animal choices including bees, squirrels, birds, and hedgehogs. What dog owners say: "This is an awesome educational toy for your dog. My puppy was obsessed with this toy and repeatedly pulled out (or shook out) the squirrels over and over. She loved the challenge, as well as the squeaky squirrels."
The Best Snuffle Mat: SNIFFiz Dog Food Puzzle Mat
foraging mat provides an olfactory play space to stimulate their tracking instincts. On top of fulfilling their desire to hunt, the mat offers stress relief and freedom from boredom. To use it, just scatter bits of food throughout the toy and watch as they eagerly sniff the pieces out. The mat is made from soft fleece and has special compartments to hide toys or treats if you want to increase the challenge. It has an anti-slip bottom and modular design that allows dogs of all sizes to play. What dog owners say: "This is a large soft fun toy for my Poodle mix dog, but where to store it is an issue. My dog is smart and gets bored. This Snuffle Mat challenges him more than other interactive toys." Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle's editorial and sales departments.