Skip to content
Dog enrichment toys

5 ways to mentally stimulate your dog with dog enrichment toys

While everyone knows about the importance of physical exercise in a healthy dog’s life, mental stimulation is often overlooked. Did you know that most dogs need at least 20 minutes of mental stimulation a day? Dogs are incredibly smart and so mental stimulation is just as crucial to them as physical exercise.


Depending on your breed of dog, they may need even more mental stimulation. For example, if you have a curious poodle, make sure to provide plenty of engaging activities. Poodles display intelligence and derive enjoyment from mental stimulation.


Do you think your pup may not be getting enough mental stimulation? In this article, find out how to identify if your dog needs more mental stimulation and explore the top 5 dog enrichment toys to keep them engaged.

Dog in fireworks
Taylor Sondgeroth via Unsplash

Signs your dog lacks mental stimulation

If your dog needs more mental activity, they might display behaviours we consider unacceptable as pet owners. This is because they are trying to find ways to entertain themselves, and this can lead to destructive behaviours. The signs your dog is experiencing boredom due to a lack of mental stimulation include:


  • Chewing furniture, pillows, toilet paper, and basically anything they should not be chewing.

  • Digging holes in your garden

  • Overexcitement when you come home

  • Begging for attention persistently 

  • Acting restless

  • Excessive barking

  • Excessive licking

  • Pacing

  • Chasing their tail

  • Fighting with other pets in your household


If your dog is showing any of these signs, it could mean they are lacking mental stimulation. But not to worry, you can easily change this. Whether you're engaging in fun activities with your pup or giving them enrichment toys while you're away, both can provide mental stimulation. After all, studies show that pets with daily enrichment experience up to a 90% decrease in destructive behaviours!


Here are our 5 top ways to mentally-stimulate your furry friend using dog enrichment toys.

Selection of dog enrichment toys

1. Dog enrichment puzzle toys for mental stimulation

Puzzle toys are fantastic to mentally stimulate your dog. They have sections to hide your dog's food, so your dog can use their intelligence to find the delicious treats. Interactive dog toys such as puzzle toys encourage your dog to use their critical thinking skills. These toys are perfect for keeping your pet entertained for a long time, easing any anxiety or boredom they may have.


As your dog will receive a food reward when they play with the puzzle toy, they will experience a dopamine release. This means they’ll be feeling a lot happier and more content. Not to mention, puzzle toys such as slow-feeder bowls will encourage your pup to eat slower, which is better for their digestion.

2. Dog enrichment treat dispensers for mental stimulation

Treat Dispensing Dog Enrichment Toys release dog treats as your dog plays with the toy. Whether homemade or bought, treat-dispensing toys offer your furry friend essential mental stimulation. These toys come in various shapes, sizes, and difficulty levels, allowing you to find the ideal match for your dog.


Some of the most popular treat dispensing toys, include the Zogoflex Toppl’s by WestPaw. These dog enrichment toys can even be combined by connecting the XL and large Toppl, or small and large Toppl together! That’s if your dog loves more of a challenge.


Treat dispensing dog enrichment toys will help your pup to use their natural instincts such as problem-solving, chewing, and hunting. It’s best to introduce your four-legged friend to the toy gradually. Simply set aside 10-15 minutes a day to allow your dog to play with the dog enrichment toy and dispense the treats within. Always supervise your dog during their time with a treat dispenser, particularly if they are a heavy chewer. 


To mentally stimulate your dog without extra expenses, there are plenty of free dog enrichment games you can play with your pup. For example, you can encourage your dog to sniff out their treats by using a baking tray with each treat-filled compartment covered with tennis balls. Alternatively, you could hide their dog treats around the room (like under a rug) and encourage your excitable fur baby to find them.

3. Dog enrichment chew toys for mental stimulation

Chewing will give your dog mental stimulation. If your dog is chewing on inappropriate items like furniture, it may indicate a need for more mental stimulation. Thankfully, there are lots of dog enrichment chew toys available that can enhance your pup’s mental stimulation, diverting them from chewing on your cherished belongings!


Chew toys help dogs stay mentally stimulated and reduce stress and anxiety. Dogs tend to like to chew when trying to ease the anxiety they are feeling. For instance, during fireworks season when your dog is anxious, offering a chew toy will help alleviate stress and redirect their attention. It’s a brilliant way to build their brainpower, keeping your pup happy and content.


The Magnum Black Stars and Stripes Ultra-Durable Chew Toy will help even the most power-chewer dogs relieve their boredom. Chew toys such as these will clean your dog’s teeth while they chew, helping to prevent tooth decay and bad breath! They really do come with so many benefits. Check out  a variety of our best dog chew toys below.

Selection of dog chew toys

4. Dog enrichment lick mats for mental stimulation

Another way to ensure your dog gets enough mental stimulation is through a Lick Mat. Lick Mats calm dogs, reduce anxiety, boredom, and prevent destructive behavior from lack of mental stimulation.


If your dog is one to excessively lick when lacking mental stimulation, then the dog enrichment Lick Mat will be your best option. They will help to calm and soothe your pet as they enjoy their favourite treat by releasing endorphins through the promotion of licking. You can serve wet, dry, and liquid dog food on the Lick Mat, making it a excellent alternative to slow-feeder bowls.


If you have a dog that will chew anything or a teething pup, we recommend the Lickimat Tuff as it is virtually indestructible. However, always remember to supervise your dog when you give them dog enrichment toys such as lick mats.


If you prefer not to spend extra money on a lick mat, you can easily make one at home! Silicone mats, ice cube trays, and silicone baking sheets work well as affordable dog enrichment alternatives due to their texture. Read our new article on making free DIY toys at home to keep your pets entertained and stimulated.

5. Dog enrichment burrow toys for mental stimulation

If your dog doesn't like food or chewing, there are other puzzle toys that can still give them mental stimulation. Zippypaws' Burrow Toys will entertain your dog for hours with hide-and-seek play. They can try to pull out the soft toys from the burrow holes.


Dog enrichment Burrow Toys tap into your pup’s natural digging and hunting instincts. Your dog will enjoy figuring out how to get the smaller toys from the burrow, enhancing problem-solving skills and cognitive engagement. This play imitates how dogs act in the wild, giving them mental stimulation and a satisfying experience. 


Burrow toys provide comfort and a sense of accomplishment for your dog when they successfully retrieve hidden items, promoting overall mental well-being.


Do burrow toys sound like the perfect way to mentally-stimulate your beloved pooch? We have burrow toys for every occasion, including Halloween and Christmas so your pup can really join in on the fun! 

Burrow Toys

Mentally stimulate your dog with dog enrichment toys at WOOOF

We hope that this article has helped you with some ideas on how you can ensure your dog has enough daily mental-stimulation. Whether that be by purchasing some dog enrichment toys or even creating some of your own at home! 


Feel free to visit our website today to see our full range of dog enrichment toys:

Previous article The Ultimate Dog Collars Shopping Guide for Dog Parents
Next article How to successfully introduce a new puppy to your dog