REVIEW: The 13 Best Dog Puzzles For Aussies

Aussie interactive toy

Australian Shepherds are some of the most intelligent dogs in the world, and the best way to enhance their abilities is to provide daily mental stimulation. As an Australian Shepherd grows, it is crucial to make sure you do everything you can to sharpen their cognitive abilities.

The challenge is, there are so many options to choose from, what are the best dog puzzles for Aussies? Read on to learn about the 13 best dog puzzles for Aussies. 

How Can I Mentally Stimulate My Aussie?

There are several ways to mentally stimulate your Aussie, from challenging them with puzzles to incorporating obstacles in their daily lives. Below are a few of the easiest, most popular techniques you can try to mentally stimulate your Australian Shepherd

  • Allow Freedom: One of the best ways to stimulate your Aussie’s cognitive abilities is by giving them the freedom to explore, whether it be inside or outside. Often, new dog owners might think that if their pup is sniffing around the house, they are getting ready to use the bathroom. This, however, is not always the case. Dogs have keen senses of smell, and the best way for them to put this attribute to good use is by letting them explore. Do not be afraid to let your Aussie explore both indoors and outdoors.
  • Challenges During Meal Time: Another great way to mentally stimulate your Aussie is by having your dog work for its food. As you will see with several of the puzzles below, teaching your Aussie to work through and around obstacles for treats and food is a great way to develop its mental cognition.
  • Train Your Dog With Tricks: Teaching your Aussie how to sit, shake, roll over, and more is one of the best ways to mentally stimulate them. Repetitive training helps your Aussie learn through familiarity, and when you reward them with treats, they are more likely to learn more quickly.
  • Buy Puzzles: As is fitting for this article, getting puzzles for your Aussie is one of the best ways to teach them to develop their cognitive abilities independently. Sometimes, leaving your Aussie to figure out puzzles and obstacles on their own is more beneficial than struggling to teach them yourself.

13 Best Puzzles To Purchase For Aussies

Below is a list of the 13 best puzzles for Aussies listed in order of difficulty – from the easiest to the most complicated.

KONG Dog Toy

The KONG Dog Toy is one of the most popular dog toys on the market. While the looks of it may not exactly seem like a puzzle at first, a KONG requires a bit of intelligence from a dog. While it is great for tossing around for playtime, treats or peanut butter can be placed in the middle so your Aussie has to figure out how to retrieve the savory item.

A KONG is excellent for young Australian Shepherds because it teaches them the basics of foraging for something they want. At the same time, they will likely get an excellent workout while chasing the ragged, rubber, bouncing toy this way and that. Speaking of the material, there is a KONG explicitly made for puppies with teething rubber.

This puzzle is great for:

  • Keeping your young pup active
  • Teaching a basic puzzle to a developing Aussie
  • Providing a safe, teething rubber for aggressive Australian Shepherds

Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball Interactive Dog Toy

The Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball Interactive Dog Toy is perhaps the most helpful dog toy on the market, especially for puppies. With the immense amounts of energy Aussie puppies need to get out of their system, this puzzle toy is well worth the investment.

The plastic, hollow ball can be filled with dog treats or food, and as your Aussie rolls the ball around, a select amount of food will fall out of a small opening in the ball. You can adjust the size of the hole to make it easier or harder for your pup to get their treat, and you can be sure that pushing this ball around for the reward will help your Aussie get some of its exercise for the day.

This puzzle is great for:

  • Providing an outlet to relieve energy
  • Teaching problem solving skills to get the treats out of the ball
  • An individual puzzle with different levels of difficulty

Paw5 Wooly Snuffle Mat

The Paw5 Wooly Snuffle Mat is one of the most creative puzzles for a developing Australian Shepherd. The mat, made of ruffled pieces of fabric, teaches a young Aussie to enhance its sense of smell by sniffing out and finding treats buried within the mat.

While all dogs have a keen sense of smell as it is, a snuffle mat helps them to put their snouts to good use early on. By using the Paw5 Wooly Snuffle Mat for your young Aussie, you can help them develop their powerful sense of smell.

This puzzle is great for:

  • Enhancing the nasal abilities of your Aussie
  • Teaching a basic puzzle to prepare your Aussie for more complex puzzles
  • Teaching your Aussie to work towards rewards

Outward Hound Fun Feeder Slo Bowl

The Outward Hound Fun Feeder Slo Bowl is an excellent puzzle choice for any age of Australian Shepherds – but particularly for younger Aussies. A slow feeder food bowl consists of obstacle-like raised pieces that make it more difficult for your dog to eat its food. 

As a young Aussie, it is great to have simple ways to develop cognitive abilities. With the Outward Hound Fun Feeder Slo Bowl, your Aussie will have to work around obstacles to obtain their food. Another advantage is that a slow feeder food bowl prevents dogs from eating their food too quickly, which improves intake ability and smooths digestion.

This puzzle is great for:

  • Teaching your Aussie to work around simple obstacles
  • Promoting healthy eating for slow, successful digestion
  • Incorporating puzzles into daily routine

Dog-E-Logic Interactive Dog Game

The Dog-E-Logic Interactive Dog Game is a wonderful starter puzzle for Aussies. Without requiring too much cognitive ability, this Dog-E-Logic puzzle pushes a young pup to solve the most basic model of a complex puzzle. It gives an insight into more advanced puzzles that you can introduce to your Australian Shepherd later in their life.

Your Aussie will have to learn to use their mouth, snout, and paws to retrieve treats from holes covered by snap-on lids. While the lids are not in the least bit challenging to get off, this specific toy helps your dog develop the ability to use different parts of its body to accomplish a goal. 

Another plus is that the Dog-E-Logic Interactive Dog Game is made of chew-resistant, compressed bamboo, which is great for holding up against the small, sharp teeth of an Aussie puppy.

This puzzle is great for:

  • Introducing a more advanced puzzle to your Aussie
  • Teaching your Aussie to use different physical attributes with its cognitive abilities
  • Aggressive Aussies who tend to chew through cheaper toys and puzzles

SPOT Seek-A-Treat Flip’ N Slide Treat Dispenser

Once your dog is ready to move on to more advanced puzzles, you can introduce them to the SPOT Seek-a-Treat Flip’ N Slide Treat Dispenser. Made with colors within the dogs’ vision spectrum, this puzzle will teach your Aussie to sharpen its cognitive skills in both the field of vision and pattern. 

With different compartments that either slide or flip open, this SPOT puzzle allows your dog to test each compartment and find their treat underneath. Once your Aussie has the hang of this more experienced puzzle, it even has notches that can attach to other Flip’ N Slides, broadening the puzzle size and challenging your Aussie more.

This puzzle is great for:

  • Aussie’s who are ready for more complex puzzles
  • Teaching your Aussie how to recognize different colors
  • Learning a puzzle with different compartments

PetSafe Sportsman Barnacle Treat Dispenser Dog Toy

For more developed Aussies who also need to get in some of their boundless exercise for the day, the PetSafe Sportsman Barnacle Treat Dispenser is a great choice. When you put treats inside of the PetSafe Barnacle, your dog will have to bounce the oddly-shaped toy around to figure out how to make small treats or dog food fall out.

Even without adding food to the toy, it is still a tremendous puzzle-style toy for an Australian Shepherd. The roughly shaped toy is perfect for playing a game of fetch in which your dog will have to develop quick reaction time to judge which direction the toy will be going in.

This puzzle is great for:

  • Teaching cognitive development while keeping your Aussie active
  • Teaching reaction time and predictability
  • Helping a dog figure out puzzles with small openings for treats

Nina Ottosson By Outward Hound Interactive Treat Puzzle

Like a flip and slide puzzle, the Outward Hound Interactive Treat Puzzle helps your dog recognize different patterns of moving compartments. Along with flipping and sliding, this particular puzzle has added fully removable compartments that are a bit more difficult for your Aussie to remove than flip compartments.

Though this puzzle may seem a bit too similar to a traditional flip and slide puzzle, even adding just one extra compartment type to a puzzle can take some getting used to for your Aussie. Yes, dogs are intelligent animals, but compared to humans, they have still got to take their time in adapting to new challenges.

This puzzle is great for:

  • Adding one more obstacle to an already complex puzzle
  • Teaching more advanced versions of familiar puzzles
  • Quick-learning Aussies who can afford additional challenges

OurPets Waffle Puzzle Toy

The OurPets Waffle Puzzle Toy is great for Aussies who have begun doing well in developing their cognitive abilities. With the waffle squares as compartments for treats to be placed into, the rotating piece – shaped like a drizzle of syrup – on top acts as a barrier above the waffle.

Your Aussie will have to recognize that, unlike the lifting and sliding of previous puzzles, they must rotate the syrup piece in a particular direction to uncover the hidden treats in the waffle compartments. This puzzle is great for the Aussie’s above-average intelligence. Plus, the fun-looking toy resembles a tasty treat that might leave you hungry for a sweet surprise.

This puzzle is great for:

  • Introducing a new puzzle to your Aussie
  • Teaching a new technique for retrieving treats or food
  • Enhancing cognitive stimulation for different abilities

Outward Hound Dog Tornado

The Outward Hound Dog Tornado is a more complex take on a puzzle-like the rotating waffle puzzle. Instead of just one set of compartments, the Dog Tornado has three different levels, with each compartment barred by a covering. 

This particular puzzle is great because it combines aspects of several different games that your Aussie may already be accustomed to. However, by combining these different games, your Australian Shepherd will learn to apply knowledge from experiences. By rotating the levels and lifting compartment covering all in one game, your Aussie will be perfecting its cognitive skills in no time.

This puzzle is great for:

  • Adding complexities to a familiar puzzle
  • Combining previous puzzles into one
  • Enhancing cognitive skills through the use of familiarity

West Paw Zogoflex Toppl Interactive Toy

Another excellent puzzle for an older Australian Shepherd is the West Paw Zogoflex Toppl Interactive Toy. By trapping treats or other foods in between its ridges, your Aussie can spend hours playing with this toy and trying to dislodge food.

This puzzle may not work great for younger pups because, although it may look simple, the design inside of the toy calls for some canine experience. It is also a great puzzle for very old Australian Shepherds whose intelligence you would like to keep sharp for as long as possible. Since it is not too physically demanding of a toy, it can be great for older dogs to sharpen their cognitive skills, stimulate their mental awareness, and expend enough energy to stay healthy.

This puzzle is great for:

  • Keeping your Aussie occupied for an extended time
  • Older Aussies with little physical ability
  • Keeping previously-learned cognitive abilities sharp

Hunger For Words Talking Pet Starter Set

Chances are that you have seen something like this on social media: a dog pushing buttons for different words like “treat,” “walk,” and “outside.” The Hunger for Words Talking Pet Starter Set is the perfect puzzle for your intelligent Australian Shepherd. Once your Aussie has mastered several complex puzzles, you should try out a talking pet starter kit. 

With recordable buttons, you can choose specific words and phrases to teach your Aussie. Once they have learned which buttons produce which commands, they can communicate with you at the most basic level. This invention, developed by a professional speech therapist, is an innovative advancement in canine training.

This puzzle is great for:

  • Introducing an a new puzzle to your Aussie
  • Teaching your Aussie to communicate through words
  • Adding your own spark to the puzzle with recordable buttons

Trixie Mad Scientist Turn Around Interactive Dog Toy

The Trixie Mad Scientist for Dogs is a puzzle that requires the most patient Aussie. Unlike almost any other dog puzzle, this will test the abilities of your Australian Shepherd to the greatest extent. If your dog loves treats and has developed a keen cognitive ability, this is the perfect puzzle for them.

With three different “test tubes” that you can fill with treats or dog food, your Aussie will have to figure out how to balance the rotating compartments upside down to wait for the treats to fall out. This puzzle tests your dog’s patience because the food moving around in the compartments makes it difficult to maintain balance in a reverse position.

This puzzle is great for:

  • Teaching patience along with cognitive development
  • Introducing another all-new puzzle
  • Adding balance ability to your Aussie’s cognitive development

Alternative Homemade Puzzles And Games For Aussies

Perhaps you do not want to spend too much money on teaching mental stimulation to your Aussie. That is entirely understandable, as many of the puzzles above come at a stiff price. An easy way to save money on activities for your Aussie is by making DIY versions of the puzzles listed above. Instead of plastic compartments, you can use paper cups. Instead of a hollow, plastic ball, you can cut a hole in a tennis ball. However, whatever you choose to do, make sure that it is safe for your Australian Shepherd.

A Variation On Hunger for Words

Another great alternative homemade puzzle is a bigger take on the Hunger for Words Talking Pet Starter Set. If your Aussie has learned the basics of certain buttons, you can create recordings for dozens of your own buttons in an attempt to teach your Aussie even more pattern capability. This is one of the most exciting ways to mentally stimulate your Aussie.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are several different puzzles on the market for your Australian Shepherd. No matter what type of puzzle you are looking for, you should be able to find it online or even make your own puzzle at home. Puzzles are an ideal way to mentally stimulate and develop your Aussie’s cognitive abilities while having fun!

Jacqueline Hamel

I’m a lifetime dog owner of several breeds and a recent Cattle Dog enthusiast after adopting two puppy siblings Bindi and Banjo. Now, I’m on a mission to better understand Heelers and other herding dogs. Hopefully, through this blog, I can share the joy and lessons learned from these intelligent, protective, loyal, athletic, and intelligent dogs.

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