Friday Fun: Interactive Dog Puzzles!!!

Last week I started offering reviews of my favorite things that might make good Christmas gifts to your furry friends.  Let’s face it:  we can’t bear the thought of everyone getting Christmas gifts except our beloved pets!  Rugby has a big stocking, and I always tuck in some special things just for him!  He loves being able to shred the paper and find something that’s just for him!

Today’s review is for puzzles!!  Yes, there are actual dog puzzles that you can play with your dogs!  A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a DIY puzzle that you can make from a muffin tin and tennis balls.  It’s not expensive to make, and dogs love to play this game and work this puzzle!  What about buying those items and giving a DIY puzzle to friends and family for their own dogs?  You’ll be a hero!!

Other than that, hands down, my very favorite dog puzzles are developed by Nina Ottosson, who created them for interactive play between dogs and their owners.  I see far too many owners who want to give their dogs something to do all by themselves so that the dog will leave them alone.  I enjoy interactive play with Rugby…especially if that play is also serving a good purpose, beyond just entertainment.

Interactive puzzles are wonderful for exercise of a dog’s mind, and when you work a dog’s mind, you’re providing high quality exercise that will have a good calming effect on a dog after play.  Rugby often takes a nap after puzzle play, or he finds a Nylabone to chew or piggie to grunt for a bit to relax after his work!

Puzzles require dogs to use problem solving skills to play.  There are little wells where I can hide treats, and trap doors that cover the treats, or pawns that move along a track to reveal the treat.  Dogs must figure out which way the doors or pawns slide to expose the treat for them. If one thing doesn’t work for them, they shift gears and try something else.  This provides wonderful brain exercise for them, and Rugby is always so very content after some good puzzle play.

The thing that I enjoy about Nina Ottosson puzzles, is that she makes several different types of puzzles with skill levels from easy to hard.  The hard puzzles have sequential elements to them, so your dog will have to work the puzzle in sequence in order to get to the hidden treats!  To take a puzzle from easier to harder, you can typically add an extra piece (often provided with the puzzle) to lock movement, etc.  It makes your dog work that much harder, and will give you more bang for your bucks!  It also provides a new play experience so that your dog doesn’t get bored.

Whether you’ve got a brilliant dog or that dog who’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, Nina Ottosson has a puzzle that your dog can play!  Just remember that your dog will need your help as a coach, so plan to work with your dog as you engage in puzzle play.

I’ve most often ordered these from  However, there are other sources that offer these puzzles, so a general Google search may turn up some additional sites that might be cheaper.  If you go to her website:, you can see how she rates a puzzle from 1-3, so that you can choose an appropriate puzzle with a skill level that will challenge your dog, but not overwhelm him.  Instructions for play are included with the puzzles, so you can figure out what to do once it arrives!

I’ve used puzzles with Rugby since early 2009, and without exception, he greets puzzle play with enthusiasm and joy!

I was not paid to provide this product review, and I purchased all of the puzzles shown.  Nina Ottosson and Amazon have no knowledge of this review, and the opinions expressed are expressly my own.

For videos of Rugby in puzzle play, please go to his Facebook Page….Rugby James.  There is a link provided on my home page!  Happy puzzling with your dog!!



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