Monday Mischief – Mentally Challenging Toys Review Part 2

This is part 2 of the 2-part reviews of mentally stimulating toys I’m doing. You can find Part 1 here. In this part, I will be reviewing the dog puzzle toys that are more complicated and can be used to feed meals. We used to feed only wet raw food and thus couldn’t use these toys to feed QQ his meals. But we have since discovered Ziwipeak, an air dried jerky raw food, and we’ve started using these toys to feed QQ. It motivates him more as he”s usually hungry when we bring these toys out, and it also slows him down as he eats.

This will also be the first review featuring Chyler!

We have three dog puzzles in total.

The first puzzle is the Kyjen Paw Flapper Dog Game. 

This is a dog puzzle I bought in December 2013 when Petflow was doing a sale. It’s the cheapest of all three dog puzzles I’m reviewing today. But it’s very durable and still looks almost brand new one year later.  There’s basically 8 cubby holes where you can hide the treats, and there’s 4 flaps. The dog has to figure out how to flip the flap open, and also how to slide the cubby holes to reach the 4 cubby holes that aren’t under the flaps.

I remember QQ figured it out pretty quickly without any help from us. He basically flipped one flap open and began to nose his way through all the treats. You can add a layer of difficulty by putting large treats to block the cubby holes from sliding until all 4 treats under the flaps are eaten or taken out. I used frozen strawberries. I usually use this dog game as a after meal dessert tray for QQ, filling the cubby holes with various fruits, frozen treats and cookies. It slows him down a little and prevent him from gobbling up everything at once, but it doesn’t really challenge him mentally.

One year later, this made for a great starter puzzle for Chyler.

Little girl doesn't like posing for the camera yet.

Little girl doesn’t like posing for the camera yet.


Chyler is still a little skittish. We are in the process of transiting her from her usual kibble diet to Ziwipeak air dried raw. The process is going very smoothly. A little too smooth in fact. Our little princess now refuses to eat her kibble. She picks out all the Ziwipeak in her food bowl and leaves the sad looking kibble behind. She’s always very eager in eating when we feed her Ziwipeak, so I thought it’ll be good to try out the dog puzzle with her using Ziwipeak.

chyler dog puzzle 2

Chyler first approached the dog puzzle and sniffed around it. She smells her favorite food in there, but she wasn’t sure what to do about it. She clearly had zero experience in dog puzzles. After taking a good sniff, she apparently decided if the food is covered, it wasn’t for her, and she retreated. I had to call her back, and she settled down looking expectantly at me. I decided to make it a little easier and flipped one of the flappers open for her. She ate the food in that cubbyhole quickly, and then sat back down. I moved the cubbyhole to show her how to slide it, but that didn’t help. After awhile, she got up to leave! I called her back and flipped another flapper open. This time, it seems like she got it, after she ate the food in that cubbyhole, she started nosing her way through to finish all the food.

Chyler was certainly much slower in getting the hang of the dog puzzles, and her frequent retreats makes me think she’s not all that food motivated, which might make it more difficult for her to persist in solving the puzzle. I guess every dog is different. Chyler isn’t a high energy puppy like QQ is, and she seems perfectly content to rest next to me.

 The second puzzle is one of the new puzzles I bought in October. It’s Hagen Dog-It Mind Games 3-in-1 Interactive Smart Toy.

This is a toy with three different configurations. So it’s kinda like 3 puzzles in 1. There are 8 cubbyholes centered in the toys and the different configurations cover them in different ways.

dogit 2

This is the first configuration. It’s basically a huge green plate, and the dog has to move the plate around to uncover the cubby holes to get to treats. QQ figured this one out pretty quick, but there are moments when the plate is stuck in one position and there’s that one cubbyhole that he can’t get to. I would say this is the most difficult configuration, and it’s very easy to set up, so it might be my favorite configuration.

dogit 4

This is the second configuration. This configuration utilizes a white piece that takes the spot of the center cubicle. With that piece, you can set up the 4 lids so that they slide around. The lids covers 4 of the remaining 8 cubby holes, and the dog has to slide the lids around to uncover the treats. This is the most time consuming set up. It’s not difficult per se although it took me awhile to figure out, but it does take up some time. And it’s the easiest configuration for the dog. QQ took almost no time at all to figure it out and ate the treats in seconds. This is my least favorite configuration.

dogit 1

The last configuration is the easiest to set up.  Bascially use the lid to cover 4 of the 8 cubby holes. The dog has to figure out how to knock or remove the lids to get to the treats underneath. QQ took awhile to figure out how to get the lids off. It’s not the easiest even though it looks that way. I wish we have more lids than the 4 that came with the toy. However, I did figure out that if you place the lids next to each other instead of spreading them out, it makes it more difficult. Because the dog can’t knock it over in one direction as it’s blocked by the other lid. Also, sometimes it gets knocked upside down and that makes it more difficult for the dog to remove.

dogit 5

I would say that the varying configurations make this toy more interesting that it is. It’s not very difficult though and it doesn’t take QQ very long to get to his food and finish it. It makes for a good starter puzzle and a good way to switch up the games.

The third puzzle is the last of the 3 I bought in October. It’s Nina Ottosson’s Tornado.

tornado 1

This is the most difficult puzzle we have. There’s also varying ways to set it up. It’s basically 3 layers with 4 cubby holes each stacked on top of each other. The dog has to rotate each layer in order to find the food. It also comes with 3 bone covers that can be used as stoppers. For example, in the configuration in the photo above, QQ has to remove the white bone in order to be able to both eat the treats underneath it, and also to rotate the toy to get to the treats in the other cubby holes. The white bone can be placed in the same level, or different levels to add to the difficulty.

The first time I had QQ try out this toy, I did not use any bone covers, so QQ simply have to rotate the toy to find and eat his food. It took him awhile, but he did it in a record time. The second time, I set it up with the white bone covers, and QQ got stuck. The reason was he couldn’t remove the white bone covers, no matter how he tried. He tried to the point where he was starting to feel frustrated. I didn’t want him to be turned off from the toy, so I decided to give him a boost.

qq tornado

The white bone covers had a tiny hole on top of each one, so I tied a brown string through the hole, so QQ could use his teeth to bite and lift the covers off. The changed the game entirely. QQ can now easily remove the covers, and even if I placed the covers on different levels, he could still get to his food in record time. As he gets more familiar with the game, I will try removing the string again.

And that’s the last of the mentally challenging toys. I hope this helps people that are looking for similar toys to stimulate their pets!

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8 thoughts on “Monday Mischief – Mentally Challenging Toys Review Part 2

  1. My little sister Bailie has some puzzle toys. Being from a litter of 14, she was food crazed when we first got her, so puzzle toys helped slow down her eating and wore her down mentally a bit.

    • Yes, one of the reasons I was looking for these games was because QQ inhales his food and is super hyper! But as he grew older he started to slow down automatically. Hopefully Bailie will too!

  2. Believe it or not, I purchased one of those and Harley just stared at it. Then Sugar the Golden Retriever wrote a blog post about making a toy like that. She took a six muffin pan, six tennis balls, and filled the pans with dry food and/or treats. Go figure – Harley fell in love with this idea and it’s one of his favorite “go to” toys when we’re in the house.

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