Top 5 Puzzle Toys by Nina Ottosson
Updated: Mar 16
The puzzle toys from Nina Ottosson have a special place in my heart because when they first appeared on the market in 2008, I participated in a trial of the toys with my then puppy Truman. It was organized by Pat Miller, trainer and author of many wonderful training books. I was a student in her Dog Training program at the time and she was writing an article to review the toys. At the time, the toys were all wood and very expensive. Now they are just as much fun and far more affordable!
I reached out to trainers and pet owners to find the top 5 they recommend. My personal favorite is the Tornado and I'll be posting an in-depth review of that one soon! Till then, check these out and see which one your pooch likes best!
Of the 17 toys available, these 5 were recommended the most by respondents. Here are the main pros and cons of this toy series.
Not too expensive
Durable (see below for a caveat)
Great for dogs of all sizes
Requires supervision to keep it from becoming a chew toy
Difficulty is hard to determine, very dependent on the particular dog playing with it
Not machine washable
I've listed each one with links for both Chewy and Amazon. The prices are the same, but I noticed that the reviews on Amazon are skewed. All of the toys sold by the Outward Hound store on Amazon have the same number of reviews and the same number of stars. They don't actually review the exact toy you are looking for, instead it's all of them as a group. Read the Chewy reviews instead for more accurate reviews. Prices listed are at the time of posting and may have changed.
Level 3, Advanced ($23.99)
The Dog Worker Puzzle was mentioned the most by respondents and has the highest reviews on Chewy for the Nina Ottosson toys. It is a higher level of difficulty than the other puzzles listed here, so it might be best for a pup that has already had some practice with puzzle toys. it is also the most expensive, so be sure your dog likes puzzles before you spring for this one. 4.33 stars, 135 reviews
Level 2, Intermediate (14.32)
The Brick Puzzle didn't get as many mentions as the Dog Worker, but it was the most reviewed puzzle on Chewy with very high ratings. It is also one of the less expensive ones available. 4.25 stars, 499 reviews
The Tornado (my personal favorite 😊)
Level 2, Intermediate ($19.99)
The Tornado Puzzle is my personal favorite because there are so many ways to set it up to change the level of difficulty. Also, it's very easy to use. Some reviewers mentioned that the toys with slides are sometimes difficult to move for pet parents. While you do need to be careful that Pup doesn't run off with a small piece, having the pieces fully removable makes it very easy for even my 6 year old to set up for our dog. 4.1 stars, 353 reviews
Level 1, Easy ($11.43)
The Smart Puzzle is a Level 1 puzzle, so it is great for dogs that are not familiar with using puzzles. Great for dogs that don't like to try too hard. Start by filling all the spots and just covering one with a bone, as your dog gets better make it harder by covering more. 4 stars, 274 reviews
Level 2, Intermediate ($19.99)
The reviews for this one were very consistent. Dogs didn't find it terribly challenging, but they absolutely LOVE it. While with the other games, reviewers seemed annoyed when the dogs figured it out too easily, for this toy, they said even when the dog figured it out quickly, they still would continue to play with it over and over. 4 stars, 264 reviews
I think that any of these toys will give your pups a good challenge and keep them thinking. If you've never used one before I recommend The Brick. It's the most affordable and has very consistent reviews. Enjoy! Let me know your favorite puzzle toy!