The modern pup has inherited their intelligence through a long line of ancestry. While your furbaby may not be a wild wolf anymore, their brain still contains knowledge and learning abilities best suited for survival. Like physical exercise, your pooch’s mental abilities require stimulation. Without it, boredom ensues, and bad behavior will follow. Luckily, dog toy companies are aware of this fact. When you, as owner, run out of doggie mental stimulation ideas, various products can come to the rescue. In fact, check out this helpful list of the best toys for dog’s intelligence!

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The Best Toy Lines that Build Dog Intelligence

1. Nina Ottoson Dog Activities by Outward Hound

The Nina Ottoson dog activity toy line is a brand under the beloved Outward Hound company. In specific, it features great interactive puzzles to practice dog intelligence. By categorizing their games into three levels, an owner can work with their dog to master each difficulty and help Fido rise to the top!

Three Levels of Difficulty

First, level one includes the Treat Tumbler in size small and large, as well as Dog Smart in both plastic and composite material. Second, level two includes the Dog Pyramid in size small and large, the Treat Maze, Hide n’ Slide, Dog Tornado, and Dog Brick. Finally, level three includes the Dog Casino, Dog Worker, and Dog Twister.

Best Option: NIna Ottosson Composite

If you are looking for the best of the best, we recommend checking out the Nina Ottoson composite dog activity games. As a matter of fact, they come highly rated by other customers for a good reason! In particular, these composite games are made to look like real wood. Their style matches any home décor and exude a natural lifestyle. Furthermore, Outward Hound notes the material “won’t splinter or snap.”

The Dog Smart, Hide n’ Slide, and Dog Worker are all apart of the Nina Ottoson composite dog activities by Outward Hound. First, Dog Smart is a level one. Your pup will pick up many cones and reveal hidden treats in each compartment. Second, Hide n’ Slide increases to level two. A dog must slide cones and swivel rotating pieces to reveal treats. Third, the Dog Worker is a challenging level 3 activity. While this game board works like the Hide n’ Slide, your pup must nudge a rotating middle piece to unlock each section.

While we love the Nina Ottoson composite dog activities by Outward Hound, they are not a good choice for heavy chewing dogs. If your pup tends to follow a path of destruction with their toys, this will not be the mental stimulation toy for you. In contrast, these interactive toys are perfect for curious pups who love a good challenge! Part of the fun includes helping your furbaby master each element. Watch the excitement wash over their face as they succeed!

2. Trixie Pet Product Activity Games

Like the Ninia Ottoson dog activity games, activity games by Trixie Pet Products are not designed for destroying dogs. Rather, the board-like games feature various challenges for curious pups to overcome and seek out hidden treats. By including three levels of difficulty, you can watch your furbaby grow to new intelligent heights!

Three Levels of Difficulty

Level one of the Trixie Pet Products activity games includes the Solitaire Strategy Game, Slide and Feed Strategy Game, Dog Activity Windmill, and Gambling Tower Strategy Game. Level two features the Dog Activity Poker Box 2, Turn Around Strategy Game (also known as Mad Scientist), Poker Box 1 Strategy Game, Dog Activity Strategy Game Poker Box Vario 2, and Flip Board Strategy Game. Finally, level three includes the Dog Activity Strategy Game Mini Mover, Move2Win, and Chess.

Best Option: Level 3 Trixie Activity Games

After delving into each product’s details, we come to recommend Trixie Pet Products level 3 activity games. Games such as the Move2Win are designed with more areas for hiding treats; enabling your dog to learn different strategies for finding them. They mimic a board game; sitting flat on the ground. Furthermore, these level 3 activities promote a great bonding moment as you help teach Fido new tricks of the trade!

By and large, Trixie Pet Products activity games are designed to improve your dog’s intelligence by climbing up each level. Starting with level one, your pup will master each element until they reach level three. We recognize that some pups will move quicker than others, but that’s okay! Customers noted that the process of teaching and helping their dog was not only stimulating, but truly rewarding.

3. Zippy Paws Burrow Plush Toy Line

We absolutely adore the Zippy Paws Burrow Plush Toy Line due to their intensely cute designs! Whereas many intelligence-building dog toys focus entirely on function, Zippy Paws has incorporated a modern and quirky twist. You can expect to pay between $8 and $14 depending on the size you purchase. This price is more affordable than many other intelligence-building dog toys.

One Design, Many Options

Each interactive plush features a larger, hollow toy and three smaller plushies with squeakers. The three smaller toys will fit through purposeful holes in the larger toy. To clarify, your pup must nuzzle through holes to pull out each squeaking, adorable plush. This harnesses your furbaby’s love of burrowing and builds their dog intelligence!

Zippy Paws offers an incredibly vast array of themes for their Burrow Plush Toy Line. Such themes include farm animals, woodland animals, food, and many more. Cater to your and your dog’s favorite things like donuts and coffee, fried chicken and bucket, crabs and rock, monkeys and banana, etc! Additionally, seek out the perfect holiday gifts through their holiday themes like Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, and more. By and large, the company’s most popular Burrow Plush Toy is the Woodland Friends Chipmonks n’ Log.

To learn more about the Zippy Paws Burrow Plush Toy Line, check out our full-length article.

The Best Single Dog Toys to Build Dog intelligence

1. Kong Classic Dog Toy

The classic Kong toy is incredibly popular and well-known. Even if you don’t own a dog, you have probably seen or heard of them. Most notably, these USA made dog toys are great for chewing pups. By using all-natural rubber, the Kong Classic is both durable and bouncy. When tossed, the Kong creates an erratic movement to keep your dog engaged and entertained.

The ability to insert dry or wet treats provides a great mental stimulation for your dog. Fido will work to find the best way to remove their reward. Furthermore, chewers will clean their teeth and massage their gums as they gnaw on the all-natural rubber.

To learn more about this popular dog toy, check out our article on the Kong Classic.

2. Buster Activity Mat

Our premium pick for building your furbaby’s intelligence includes the Buster Activity Mat. You can expect to pay between $35 and $40 for this innovative and interactive array of toys. Upon purchase, the package includes one mat, a carrying bag, and three different activities (The Envelope, The Water Lily, and The Cone Cloth). You will receive more bang for your buck by purchasing the packaged deal instead of just the mat itself.

The mat and most of its pieces are made from nylon. As opposed to many other dog activity game boards, this provides an increased durability. Additionally, the mat’s flexibility and included carrying case enables easy transport to any other location. In specific, the mat sports 35 studs at 4” apart. Each activity is designed to snap onto the studs in any position you decide. Furthermore, the mat contains a non-slip bottom.

Using the Buster Activity Mat is easy and mostly self-explanatory. Simply hide your dog’s favorite dry treats in various activities as you assemble them on the mat. The, watch as your pup noses around and learns how to obtain their yummy rewards!

We love this premium pick because it comes recommended by Anders Hallgren, a dog psychologist. Such a recommendation gives true credibility! Secondly, the mat can be hand washed clean. This differs from other toys; whose compartments are difficult to access and clean.

The company offers more activities to snap onto the mat, but they are sold separately. Most of these activities range from $10 to $15 on Amazon. Keep in mind that each harnesses a different level of difficulty to practice dog intelligence.

3. Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball

Unlike your average dog ball, this one will educate your dog and pique their curiosity. The Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball is simple to use as well. Fill it with your dog’s favorite kibble, and let them have at it! Your pup can nudge and roll the ball to get their food to fall out. Along with staying entertained, your dog will also be rewarded with kibble for their hard work. 

The toy has 3 parts, including 2 plastic halves and a disc insert. To change the difficulty level, all you have to do is adjust the disc insert. If your dog is a beginner, start at the lowest level and work your way up. As they become more familiar with the toy, you can make it harder for them to get the kibble to release. Not only is this toy educational, but it also works as a slow feeder. If your dog tends to eat too quickly, this toy will come in handy. They will have to work for their food instead of scarfing it down all at once. 

To get the full details on this product, take a look at our article The Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball Review.