13 min read

We Tried This Dog Puzzle Toy And It Saved Our Zoom Calls

Guaranteed to keep them busy for the full 30 minutes 💻

Zippy Paws SmartyPaws Puzzler

Why We Love It:

You won’t believe how much entertainment your pup gets out of this affordable toy. And with three different difficulty levels, he’ll never get bored.

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It’s hard not to feel guilty when your dog brings you his favorite squeaky toy and flashes you those big puppy eyes, but you’re just too busy working to play fetch or tug-of-war.

If you’re in the market for a toy your BFF will actually be able to play with on his own (with your supervision), puzzle dog toys are a great option.

But there are so many to choose from, so how can you tell which ones will actually keep him entertained (and work his brain at the same time)?

Well, we had our Dodo dogs give the Zippy Paws SmartyPaws puzzler a try, and the results are in!

Here’s why it earned our Paw of Approval.

What Is The Zippy Paws SmartyPaws Puzzler?

The Zippy Paws SmartyPaws puzzler is a puzzle dog toy designed to give your dog some fun-but-intense mental stimulation.

Here’s how this brain game works: You start by putting your dog’s favorite treats in the little compartments. Then your dog tries to get to the goodies by moving the pieces around.

There are three different difficulty levels: sliding, flipping and rotating.

The SmartyPaws puzzler also has a nonslip base to keep it from sliding all over the place while your pup tries to get at those tasty treats.

The Judges

We picked a few office dogs with different play styles to test out this brain game.

Alfie and Brie
Alfie and Brie
Alfie is curious, loves to chew and is pretty rough on toys. Brie can be hard to impress with toys that don’t involve food, as she’d usually rather be napping.” — their mom, Emily Carpenter
Etta
Etta
Etta LOVES to play all. the. time. She wants to chase us. She wants to find out what’s under the couch cushions. She wants to play with slash *destroy* everything like it’s her job. Etta is a busy girl, and it can be tough to find enough things to occupy her.” — her mom, Laurel Burgam
Louie
Louie
“Louie loves toys. He loves to chew on them, throw them up in the air and chase them. He loves us to chase him with the toy in his mouth. But he spends most of his time just eating the toy.” — his mom, Molly Hawkins

So … Did They Actually Play With It?

Our entire judging panel used the Zippy Paws SmartyPaws puzzle several times per week, but they liked it so much that they would play with it all the time if their parents let them.

I'm sure if I gave this to my dogs multiple times a day they would never get tired of it. They're so excited anytime I bring it out.” — Emily C.

And the more our judges used it, the better they got at the game — which meant this puzzle toy really did work our dogs’ brains.

“The first time Etta tried the puzzle, it took her about 15 minutes to get all the treats out. But with each following session, she's figured out how to empty out each section in just a few minutes.” — Laurel B.

Louie absolutely loves it, and it's cool to see how he gets to the treats faster each time.” — Molly H.

“There's zero chance of my pets getting bored with this after a couple minutes. The varying difficulty of the puzzles definitely keeps playtime going for longer.” — Emily C.

Etta is hooked on her Zippy Paws SmartyPaws puzzler. | Laurel Burgam

What Pets Loved: It’s A Fun, Tricky Game!

Playing with a puzzle toy that actually put their brains to the test was so much fun for our judges.

(Not to mention, playing for treats was a big plus for our pups!)

My dogs loved it right away! They were immediately curious and a little confused. I had to guide them a bit to show them how it worked, but once they got the hang of it they were obsessed!” — Emily C.

“Etta LOVES her SmartyPaws puzzler. Every time we pull it out, she literally jumps for joy.” — Laurel B.

Louie likes the challenge of the puzzle and the reward.” — Molly H.

Brie is really trying for those treats. | Emily Carpenter

What Parents Loved: It Keeps Their Dogs Entertained (And Works Their Brains)!

Our parents found it refreshing that the Zippy Paws SmartyPaws puzzler gave their pups another option besides physical playtime, like chasing balls or whipping (and ripping) squeaky toys all over the place.

It earned major bonus points for getting our dogs’ brains going.

“The Smartypaws puzzler is definitely teaching Etta some new problem-solving skills that she hasn’t encountered before! We’ll eventually have to upgrade to something harder, but for now, she’s working on getting her treat-retrieval time down.” — Laurel B.

“I love that there are a few different 'puzzles' for how my dogs get the treats, some being tougher than others. It's so fun to watch them figure it out. Love having this in our toy rotation for some mental play!” — Emily C.

The puzzle toy was an incredible way to keep my dog's brain stimulated.” — Molly H.

It was also such a relief that it thoroughly entertained our pups, especially when they’re stuck at home.

It definitely relieves boredom — my dogs are super engaged from start to finish (approximately 20 minutes) whenever I whip this out.” — Emily C.

“We love that the SmartyPaws puzzler gives Etta a constructive outlet where her smarts can be put to the test. It’s so much fun watching the wheels turn in her head while she figures out how to get out all the treats!” — Laurel B.

“The puzzle was a great game for Louie’s mind and I think wore him out.” — Molly H.

The SmartyPaws puzzler even kept our dogs busy when their parents weren’t able to participate in playtime.

Sometimes I feel bad Louie’s just sitting in the apartment while I'm working, and this puzzle has helped him stay active when I can't be walking him.” — Molly H.

“My dogs can play by themselves! I don't have to keep throwing a toy to keep them entertained.” — Emily C.

And since our dogs tend to play pretty rough, our testers were super impressed that this puzzle toy held up against sharp teeth and persistent chewing.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the durability of the SmartyPaws puzzler. It felt breakable against a puppy at first. But once Etta dove in to find the treats, she tried and failed to pull off the puzzle doors. So we think it’ll hold up for a good while!” — Laurel B.

Considering there's food involved, I wouldn't have been surprised if my dogs ripped this apart, but it's held up great. I think this toy will last a long time as long as my dogs are monitored during playtime.” — Emily C.

Since our pups and their parents loved the SmartyPaws puzzler so much, they all felt it’s perfectly priced at $14.99.

Etta is seriously captivated. | Laurel Burgam

Any Downsides?

While it’s super durable, our pet parents would feel a little more secure if the material was a tiny bit tougher.

I would like if the SmartyPaws puzzler was made of a thicker plastic. But so far, it’s held up well to Etta’s gnawing and scratching at it.” — Laurel B.

I have to make sure to get it from Louie after he gets all the treats because he starts eating the plastic.” — Molly H.

But that minor issue was really the only complaint our testers had. All three of them said they’d definitely continue using the SmartyPaws puzzler, and would recommend it to a fellow pet parent.

Our Takeaway: It’s A Great Way To Up Your Dog’s Brain Game

Switching things up during playtime with a puzzle toy is a great way to keep your dog from getting bored.

And, at the same time, it gives your pup a chance to flex his mental muscles — which is just as important (and tiring!) as getting physical exercise in.

With the Zippy Paws SmartyPaws puzzler, your dogs will be instantly hooked — especially once they realize they’ll get yummy treats when they figure out the puzzles.

And the puppy-proof durability, combined with the low price and multiple difficulty levels, makes this dog toy a winner.

The Dodo may receive complimentary samples to test in our Paw of Approval program, but all our opinions are 100 percent our own. We only publish endorsements of products we (and our dogs and cats) absolutely love! You can find out more about our testing process here.

If you have a product you love that you want to share with other pet parents, send a tip to dodopaw@thedodo.com.

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