Best Toys for Hyper Dogs: The 23 Best Puzzle Toys for (energetic) Dogs

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Dogs with a lot of work can be quite energetic. I know what you mean because I live with a Border Collie and have taken in German Shepherds, Huskies, and American Bulldogs.

I can’t get out every day, even though I am an avid hiker and trail runner. I occasionally foster a dog who is unable to run due to injury, heartworm infection, or behavioral issues (ok, mostly because I enjoy fostering aggressive and fearful dogs).

However, energetic dogs require daily stimulation, especially while their owners are away at work. It’s not easy to relieve boredom in energetic dogs, but it’s critical for your own sanity.

But here’s the thing: most dogs won’t play with toys if they’re left alone. It’s just more fun when you’re present.

Because puzzle toys are filled with food, they solve this problem. To avoid weight gain, I recommend getting rid of your dog’s food bowl and replacing it with puzzle toys.

My dogs have never had a food bowl before.

How to Exhaust Energetic Dogs with Puzzle Toys

It’s understandable that your dog would be bursting at the seams with energy if you’ve left him alone all day while you’re at work. Even with a midday dog walker, a young working dog needs more than an hour or two of walking to be tired out.

For my high-energy dogs, I use puzzle toys to create a daily “Easter egg hunt.” This is how it works:

  1. Prepare the goods.Some puzzle toys are easy to use; simply add your dog’s breakfast kibble and you’re ready to go. Others are best served frozen or chilled, so plan accordingly.
    2. If necessary, confine Instead of crates, I prefer to use exercise pens or baby gates to dog-proof my house. Even better if your dog is trustworthy around the house.
    3. Keep an eye on your dog. Before I leave for work, I put the dog away (usually in a bathroom). This is the very last step I do before leaving the step and locking the door!
    4. conceal the goodiesHide a few hard chewies, a few soft freezies, and a few mind-benders for your dog while he’s away. Make a few easy to find, and a few more difficult!
    5. Leave! Get out of there and let your dog out! While you’re gone, your dog will go foraging and scavenging. This method has also helped me stop dogs from counter-surfing, which is when they steal food from counters, by letting them satisfy their need to forage without stealing food.

This approach takes only a few minutes and significantly reduces your energetic dog’s energy levels. It also relieves boredom.

While a tired dog isn’t always a well-behaved dog, meeting your dog’s physical and mental exercise needs is critical to a successful training plan.

Some of my favorite puzzle toys for energetic dogs are listed below. Get a few of each and mix and match for ultimate success!

Energetic Dogs Need 7 Hard, Chewy Toys

  1. Bully Sticks These are my go-to treats for energetic dogs who are bored. Bully sticks are a tasty snack made from dehydrated cow tendons that are far safer than rawhide.
    2. Ears of a Pig Pig’s ears are dried for easy storage, similar to bully sticks but less expensive. According to every dog I’ve ever “asked!”, they’re also quite tasty.
    3. The esophagus of a cow Cow esophagus is a crunchy treat for dogs that is cheaper than pig’s ears. I almost always have a few on hand to hide for Barley while I’m away at work!
    4. The Horns of a Water Buffalo Water buffalo horns are excellent for hiding treats inside, though they are not as tasty as the other treats on this list. Some dogs will enjoy chewing on the horn that has been removed!
    5. Antlers. Antlers are another tasty chewing option, but they aren’t always appropriate. Heavy chewers can splinter antlers and injure themselves while chewing. When using this toy for the first time, make sure your dog is trustworthy.
    6. Smoked beef knuckleboneThese are a little more expensive, but they last a long time and are delicious! Give this to your dog away from the carpet to avoid staining your rugs.
    7. Yak Chew from the Himalayas. The Himalayan Yak chew is a good option for those who aren’t fond of meat. These delectable treats, made from yak and cow milk, won’t stink as much as the meatier options on this list. Unfortunately, for many budgets, these guys are a bit pricey for daily use!

6 Freezer-Friendly Puzzle Toys for energetic dogs

  1. Kongs. For a reason, the classic Kong is a go-to toy for all dog trainers. It’s good to have a few stuffed and ready to go in your freezer, whether you fill it with kibble and seal them with peanut butter, fill them with wet dog food and freeze them, or get more creative. I rotate between my sink, my dog, and my freezer!
    2. The Outward Hound’s Slow FeedersThis slow feeder isn’t as active as some of the other toys, but it’s the best way to give your dog wet, raw, or rehydrated food while playing with a puzzle toy. Depending on how much of a challenge your dog requires, you can serve it frozen or warm.
    3. Horns of a Water Buffalo (double feature). Some dogs find chewing on a buffalo horn alone unpleasant. Treat it like a Kong and stuff it with tasty treats! All of Kong’s recipes can be used.
    4. Hurley Bone, number four. This chewy toy is made for aggressive chewers. With just the right amount of give, it’s perfect for teething puppies. Fill it with sliced cheese, peanut butter, or canned dog food, then freeze it for a more delicious “Easter egg.”
    5.Toppl. This little toy has teeth on the inside for added challenge, and it’s another West Paw Zogoflex masterpiece. This is another rubber toy with enough give to satisfy even the most ferocious chewers.
    6. Quizl. Like a Kong, the Quizl can be stuffed with kibble and sealed with peanut butter. It’s a little more difficult and has a more satisfying squish for dogs who enjoy using their jaws.

10 Mind-Bending Puzzle Toys for Active Dogs

  1. Kong Wobbler. This is my go-to puzzle toy; Barley’s lasted two years before we left it in an AirBnB in Mexico. To dispense kibble of almost any size, this ultra-durable toy can be nosed, pawed, and chased.
    2. Snuffle Mat With a snuffle mat, you can harness the calming effects of foraging and sniffing. Handmade ones are frequently available locally to support local trainers and dog businesses. This puzzle toy is great for dogs who have trouble moving around or don’t know how to do puzzles.
    3. a barnacleThe Kong Wobbler or Classic Kong can be replaced with the PetSafe Busy Buddy. It bounces and rolls to disperse kibble, but it’s also soft and can be frozen before being sealed with peanut butter. Many of my dog trainer friends enjoy this game.
    4. original+paraphraseBecause I’m a total science nerd, this is one of my favorite puzzle toys! This toy, which looks like rotating test tubes that can dump out bits of kibble, is perfect for smaller dogs. As he lifts his paw to rotate the test tubes, this also works your dog’s core.
    5. Bob-a-Lot. This toy is made to roll around erratically as your dog paws at it and chases it, similar to the Kong Wobbler. This toy has a slot that can be changed to fit different kibble sizes and all skill levels.
    6. Omega Tricky Treat BallYou can now put your dog’s kibble inside a ball for dogs who adore them! This toy will roll and dispense food for your dog, and it can easily accommodate an entire meal. This toy is a little easier, making it perfect for dogs who are new to the concept of “working for dinner.”
    7. Tug-A-Jug My dog Barley is terrible at tug-of-war, but he enjoys the challenge! This toy is far more challenging to master than a ball or other rolly toy. Some dogs are skilled at removing treats, while others (like my dog) prefer to thrash the toy until the kibble falls out. You’ll get a tired dog either way!
    8. Pickle Pocket (number 8) This toy is perfect for crate-bound dogs because it provides a challenging way to work for kibble without requiring much movement. Fill the pickle’s slot with kibble and leave your dog to her own devices!
    9. “Twist and Treat” is number nine. The Twist N Treat is a challenging toy that resembles a clam. It’s up to your dog to spin and paw at it to get his kibble out. This toy does not roll in a consistent manner. This toy can be difficult depending on the size of your kibble (and how big you make the gap).
    10. Tornado TreatThis toy requires your dog to spin layers on a toy to reveal small bones that he will remove in order to find his kibble. This toy is not suitable for dogs, but it is a lot of fun to have. I love seeing dogs’ faces light up as they figure out how to use it!

Please keep in mind that all puzzle toys pose a choking hazard to your dogs. Before using toys as part of unsupervised Easter egg hunts, I personally ensure that my dogs are using them appropriately. Use them at your own risk.