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December 2023

Puzzles for Pets: Tips to Keep Your Dog and Cat’s Mind Active

Behaviour & Training

Benefits Of Getting Puzzles For Pets

Cater to your pet’s cognitive needs: puzzles encourage brain function (important for pets of all ages but particularly beneficial for elderly pets and puppies/kittens.

Stimulate your pet mentally: keeping your pet’s mind active is an important aspect of their wellbeing and, just as with physical exercise, it also physically exerts them.

Discourages destructive behaviour: pets that are stimulated mentally and engaged in their environment (with positive outlets for curiosity) are less likely to act out or engage in unwanted behaviour (such as chewing or destroying household items).

Provides entertainment for pets while alone: leaving your pet with a puzzle to occupy them when you’re leaving the house is a great way to distract them from the separation taking place and can lessen separation anxiety.

Puzzle Ideas for Pets

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  • Good for pets which are starting out or have never used a puzzle before.
  • Great puzzle to get puppies and older dogs started on.
  • It’s a good idea to supervise your pets the first time they’re using a new puzzle. Offer treats and positive reinforcement as they engage with the puzzle.


  • Once your pet solves their easy puzzle, you can move them up a level.
  • You should give your pet the easy and intermediate puzzle interchangeably so they have to still use problem-solving skills to solve each one as they can’t memorise the same actions for both.


  • Perfect for pets that need more of a challenge that have solved easy and intermediate puzzles.
  • Advanced puzzles feature a spin motion and pieces which block its path so your dog will have to navigate obstacles to get to the treats.


  • Now for the real problem solvers! Once your pet is ready, move them on to our most advanced puzzle.
  • A greater challenge due to its various compartments and sliding play pieces; the advanced puzzle is the perfect test for their problem-solving skills!
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While these are labelled for dogs, you can also give them to your cat to engage with! Make sure you fill them with high value treats to pique their interest.

At-Home DIY Puzzle Tips For Dogs

Create a Scent Trail: Create a puzzle that engages your dog's sense of smell. Hide treats along a scent trail (making some easy and some more challenging) and encourage them to follow their nose. This not only stimulates their mind but also taps into their natural instincts. This also works as a creative alternative to traditional mealtimes for food-motivated dogs.

Interactive Feeding Station: Convert dinner into a stimulating challenge. Create a feeding station where your dog has to navigate through obstacles to reach their food. This puzzle activates your dog’s hunting instincts, more closely mimicking how they would search for food in a wild environment.

Frozen Treats: An excellent summer game that helps pets beat the heat with a frozen puzzle. Freeze your pet's favourite toys or treats in water, creating a refreshing and mentally stimulating activity for warmer days. You can even use ready-to-use mould to make it easier.

Treat-Dispensing Ball: Transform an old tennis ball into a treat-dispensing puzzle. Cut an X into an old tennis ball, or cut along the seem to create an open flap and fill it with treats. As your dog plays, treats are released, turning playtime into a mentally stimulating experience. Make sure you supervise your dog while using this to ensure they’re not ingesting the ball itself.

DIY Snuffle Mat: Create a snuffle mat by ripping up old newspaper, wrapping paper – or you can even use towels and blankets. Scatter and spread food throughout to encourage your dog to forage for it! Want to skip the DIY step? Grab one of our Petstock snuffle mats!

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At-Home DIY Puzzle Tips For Cats

Hidden Treats in a Box: Transform an ordinary box into a puzzle. Use an old jewellery box, or ideally something that has compartments and components. Place high value treats in various sections and encourage your cat to use their problem-solving skills to retrieve them.

Muffin Munch: Turn a muffin tin upside down and spread kibble between the bumps. Your cat will have to nudge the food around from all different angles. This is a good one to try for dogs too!

Bottle Cap Challenge: Fill a baking sheet tin with water, and place bottle caps on the surface so they float above the water. Then, put your cats favourite treats in the centre of the bottle caps. Watch your cat swat and swipe at the cats to try and collect the treats and reward them as they go!

FAQs For Pets And Puzzles

How often should I introduce new puzzles to my pets?

Rotate puzzles regularly to keep the experience fresh. Introducing new puzzles every week can prevent boredom. Always supervise your pet the first time you introduce a new puzzle to ensure they’re engaging with it safely and as intended.

Can puzzles help with behavioural issues in pets?

Yes, mental stimulation through puzzles can address behavioural problems by channelling your pet's energy into constructive activities.

Is supervision necessary during pet puzzle play?

For safety, especially with new puzzles, supervise your pets to ensure they engage with the puzzles appropriately. This is especially important for dogs with a strong bite that may attempt to eat the puzzle toy rather than solving the challenge.

How do I know if the puzzle is too easy or too challenging for my dog or cat?

Observe your pet's response when introducing them to a puzzle. If they solve it too quickly, consider making it more complex. If they seem frustrated, simplify the puzzle for a positive experience.

Is it suitable to use puzzles for dogs and cats of all ages?

Absolutely. Adjust the complexity of the puzzles based on your pet's age and cognitive abilities to ensure an enjoyable experience. Once a puzzle becomes too easy, offer them something more challenging or swap it for another puzzle to keep them interested and engaged.

Can puzzles replace regular exercise for my dog?

While puzzles provide mental stimulation, they should complement, not replace, regular physical exercise. Both are essential for your dog's overall wellbeing.

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