• The Well-Trained Dog

Interactive Treat Puzzles to Exercise Your Pet’s Brain


There are times your dog or cat might not be able to run and play. Maybe he is recovering from surgery or the weather is bad and you need to stay inside.

You can still exercise his brain with various interactive treat toys so you can also have some fun together.

Some of these can be made from a few household items and others can be purchased online or from pet stores.

Solo Cup Challenge

It’s a variation of the shell game. While sitting in front of your dog, show your dog two large Solo-type cups. Hide some treats or kibble under one of them and move the cups around. Then have your dog choose which cup the treats are under and let him eat the treats when he chooses correctly.

Snuffle Mat

Some dogs gulp their food which could lead to indigestion or something much worse such as bloat. Dog loves to use their nose to search out things so why not put it to use with a snuffle mat. It’s a strange name for a toy but is a handy tool to keep the dog’s nose busy and help him eat more slowly.

You can buy one online or make one yourself. The backing is usually made of an anti-fatigue mat with holes. They can also be made of plastic. One side is smooth and the other has “fingers” where you can hide the treats or kibble. Start by putting the food on top of the fingers. Then, as your dog learns the game, you can start pushing the food deeper into the crevices so he’ll really have to hunt for the food.

Cupcake Pan With Tennis Balls

It’s a variation of the snuffle mat where you put the dog’s kibble in each of the holes in the cupcake pan and cover each hole with a tennis ball. The dog has to move the tennis balls to get their food, which helps slow them down. Cats enjoy this puzzle as well. You can cover the cupcake pan holes with a piece of paper or maybe a toy mouse.

Turn the pan over and scatter the food between the raised parts, which will give the dog or cat more time to eat his food.

Seek a Treat

There are several versions of Seek a Treat. Some are bone-shaped and have sliders that move back and forth to cover the treats. Others have levels to push or drawers to pull out or pick up. Some of these puzzles are made out of plastic or pressed wood and prices range from $20 to $50 or more. You hide the treats and then have your dog (or cat) find them.

As with all toys, the purpose is to have fun. Be sure to pick up these toys after you’re done playing so the dog doesn’t destroy and/or ingest pieces of the toy afterward.

***These are just a few ideas to keep your pet’s brain active. We can help keep your dog’s brain and body active through dog walking and pet sitting. Check out our pet care services and then let us know how we can help by calling (540) 353-2485 or emailing info@thewell-traineddog.com***

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