Holiday Dog Toy Review 2023

enrichment fearful dogs Dec 19, 2023

For this year's holiday toy review, our team dogs (and a couple of guest stars!) tried out four new-to-them food puzzle toys. You can see video of the toys in action in the video below. Here's a brief summary of the results. (You can find these and past holiday review toys on our recommended products page.)

Toy #1: Potaroma Puzzle Toy

This one was by far the most advanced puzzled we reviewed. My three dogs are all very puzzle toy-savvy, and they found this one challenging.  

Pros:  This toy is easy to fill, and has multiple levels of difficulty (illustrated in the video below). It provides a challenge for dogs who have mastered simpler food puzzles.

Cons: If you have a dog who prefers the "brute force" approach to puzzle toys, they might succeed in emptying the toy by throwing it against the floor or wall. One of my dogs sometimes manages to get the plastic top off of the central treat compartment.  When that central compartment is pressed down, it does make a little noise. If your dog is very sensitive to sounds, this might be off-putting. Finally, it is a difficult puzzle, and you might need to help your dog learn how to use it. 


Toy #2: Moogrou Snufflemat

This is a silicone mat with flaps that the dog must push aside with their nose or tongue to get to the treat below. 

Pros: This is a very easy toy, suitable for dogs who are new to food toys. The material is very soft, so no worries about noses being scratched up. It can be filled with solid food like kibble, or gooey treats like canned cheese. When I squirted canned cheese onto the mat under and between the flaps, I was pleasantly surprised at how long it took my dogs to finish it.

Cons: It's a little tricky to get solid treats under the flaps of the mat. The easiest method I found was to bend the mat to open up a "channel" between the flaps, and pour small quantities of treats into it. If your dog likes to chew pieces off of rubber toys, they might end up damaging the toy this way. 


Toy #3: Busy Buddy Barnacle

This sturdy rubber toy has three compartments that can hold solid treats or kibble. Then the dog has to bounce and/or roll the toy around to get the treats out.

Pros: This toy is relatively easy to fill. You can adjust difficulty by clipping the rubber prongs that surround the openings of the toy, or by adjusting treat size. It's pretty quiet, and doesn't require much skill to empty- just persistence. 

Cons: Once you clip the rubber prongs to adjust the openings on the toy, you can't undo it, so it's a "one-way" method of adjusting difficulty. Because of its shape, this toy rolls and bounces somewhat unpredictably, which might scare some dogs. It's also not easy to clean the inside of the toy. 


Toy #4: Nina Ottosson Tornado

This is a hard plastic toy with moving parts. The dog has to use their nose or paw to rotate the layers of the toy to reveal treats. 

Pros: This toy is easy to fill, and easy for most dogs to get started with. You can adjust difficulty level by adding one or more plastic "blockers" that come with toy. These bone-shaped plastic pieces stop the toy layers from spinning freely, so the dog has to remove them in order to get all of the food from the toy. 

Cons: The movement of the toy might scare some dogs. If you have a very fearful dog who has no experience with food toys yet, I recommend starting with something like the snufflemat above first. 



If you have any questions about any of these toys, shoot us an email at [email protected]. We'll be happy to try to help!

Want help building your dog's confidence? Join us inside our training membership for fearful dogs, Confidence Builders Club.