Challenging your dog both mentally and physically is vital for his overall health and well-being. Physical challenges allow your dog to burn energy and stay physically fit. Mental challenges help him learn and keep his brain active. There are lots of ways to offer your dog a mental challenge, and these Nina Ottosson puzzle toys are one of the easiest and best!
Nina Ottosson is a well-known designer of puzzle toys for pets. She actually got started creating puzzle toys for her own dogs, as she didn't have enough time to actively engage them the way that they needed to be. Most dog owners are in the same situation – they work away from home and their pets are left to sit around and wait for them to return home.
If you're a dog owner that works outside the home, you probably encounter this problem on a daily basis. By the time you get home your dog is ready to play and you just want to relax. Puzzle toys can help solve this problem.
Your dog should always be supervised while playing with puzzle toys, but you'll be able to sit down and relax while watching him. Of course, puzzle toys cannot take the place of regular exercise. Your dog still needs to be physically challenged as well, but having a variety of puzzle toys can make mental canine stimulation much easier.
For more information about Nina Ottosson and the puzzle toys that she creates, you can read our interview with her here.
Nina Ottosson Puzzle Toys for Dogs
Nina Ottosson puzzle toys are made in 3 difficulty levels -easy, medium and hard. If your dog has never used puzzle toys before, you'll want to start with an easy one. As he learns to manipulate the toy and receive his treats you can begin increasing the difficulty.
I received the Dog Tornado (level 2) and the Dog Twister (level 3) in exchange for my honest review. My dogs have had some experience with puzzle toys in the past, but they are certainly not experts. In fact, our boxer, Chloe, typically stands back and waits for her sister, our chocolate lab Saddie, to get the dog treats out. Then Chloe swoops in and eats them.
Both our girls enjoyed the Nina Ottosson puzzle toys. Saddie is entertained by them for longer periods of time, but Chloe likes playing with them too.
Dog Tornado (level 2)
The Dog Tornado can also be used for cats, which we tried. If you've got a multi-pet household, this puzzle toy is a great choice! It was definitely more difficult and took a lot more training to help the cats understand, but they aren't as food motivated as the dogs.
It has four layers of rotating discs that are shaped like dog bones. Three of the layers have compartments where you can hide treats. Your dog will have to learn to manipulate the different layers in alternating directions with his paw or nose in order to get the dog treats.
At first, you can simply start out by hiding treats in the compartments and aligning the levels. Once your dog figures out how to spin each level and can get to the treats fairly quickly, it's time to increase the difficulty level. There are four white plastic blocks included with this puzzle toy to make things more challenging for your pet.
RELATED: The Best Dog Treats Review
By placing the blocks in a few of the compartments, you increase the degree of difficulty. You can start by adding one block and then help your dog learn that he needs to remove the block to spin the level. There is a hole in the top of each block, so you can tie a string around them to make them easier for toy and small breeds or cats to remove.
Dog Twister (level 3)
Initially, I was fooled by this treat. The information that came with these toys stated that this was a level 3 Nina Ottosson puzzle toy. To me, it looked much easier to manipulate that the Dog tornado. Boy, was I wrong!
This one was definitely a challenge for both of our girls. As I mentioned, they didn't have much experience with puzzle toys before receiving these, but I did help them. I also gave them plenty of time to get used to the Tornado before I introduced the Dog Twister.
The way this toy works, is that your dog needs to look for treats by moving one block after another around the circle. There are depressions under each block where a dog treat can be hidden. That part only took our lab about 2 minutes to figure out. She quickly realized that she could shift the blocks one at a time by scratching them with her paw.
It took our boxer a little more time to figure this one out, but you have to consider the age difference and motivation for food between our two girls. Chloe is 5 years old and not nearly as motivated by food as our 7-month-old Saddie.
Once your dog gets the hang of sliding the blocks around the circle to get his treats, you can increase the difficult a great deal with the bone shaped pegs included with this toy. There are 12 of them. The blocks can be locked into position by these pegs.
RELATED: The Best Dog Toy
The pegs are a challenge to remove. Our boxer is a brachycephalic breed, meaning that she has a short, “pushed-in” nose. She also doesn't have many teeth, making it nearly impossible for her to remove the pegs. She'd sit back and wait for her sister to do the hard work and she'd eat the treats.
Saddie could remove the pegs easily after I showed her how. It took a few times, and I had to really coax her along in the beginning, but now she has it figured out. As soon as she tries to paw a block to slide it around and she realizes that it is locked, she starts pulling out the pegs near that block.
It's really interesting to watch your dog learn to manipulate these Nina Ottosson puzzle toys. It's a lot of fun to watch them learn, and it really does occupy them for at least 20-30 minutes. All Nina Ottosson puzzle toys are equipped with rubber feet on the bottom. They still slide around the floor, but it helps to give them a bit of grip.
RELATED: How to Use Pet Treats to Keep Your Dog Happy
These are durable dog toys that won't easily be ruined by your dog's pawing, scratching and chewing. They are made to withstand these actions and allow your pup to remove the treats that he desires. I expected these puzzle toys to be quite pricey, as they will certainly last a long time.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that you can purchase these dog toys online for less than $30 each. Yes, that is more expensive than other stuffed dog toys or simple treat dispensing toys like KONG dog toys. However, your dog is going to get more enjoyment out of these than any other treat dispensing dog toy, and they'll be working his brain too.
A dog doesn't need to think outside the box to get peanut out of the inside of a KONG toy, but he'll need to get creative to figure out these Nina Ottosson puzzle toys.
Summary of Nina Ottosson Puzzle Toys for Dogs Review
PROS: Nina Ottosson puzzle toys will provide your dog with the mental stimulation that he craves. They will force him to think outside the box and be creative. Using toys like these are a great way to keep your dog entertained when he can't go outside. They are priced to fit all pet owners' budgets and they are built to last with durable plastic. You can even increase the difficulty level as your dog gets used to the toy so he won't ever get bored.
CONS: These toys aren't great for dogs with short, flat noses (brachycephalic breeds). Our boxer could manipulate some aspects of the toys, but she had a much harder time than our chocolate lab. You're also going to pay more for these than you would a standard dog toy, but you're getting a lot more for your money.
Now it’s your turn
Have you used Nina Ottosson Puzzle Toys for Dogs already? Did you have success with it, or has it failed? Feel free to leave your own review and rating for the Nina Ottosson Puzzle Toys for Dogs below and let us know what you think!
Disclosure: We may earn affiliate commissions at no cost to you from the links on this page. This did not affect our assessment of products. Read more here and find full disclosure here.