Features January 2012 Issue

Best Interactive Dog Toy and Puzzle Game – "Dog Twister"

Swedish dog owner Nina Ottosson first marketed some of her puzzles and games for dogs in Sweden in 1993; we first heard about them (and reviewed the original wood versions) in 2008. Since then, probably in a defensive response to a number of cheap plastic knockoffs of her designs, Ottosson has developed a line of high-quality plastic toys, though the original, beautiful wood models that are made in Sweden are still available. The wood ones are sturdy and gorgeous – and more expensive. The plastic ones are also quite rugged, holding up to all sorts of clawing and even being picked up and dropped and continuing to work perfectly.

Dog Twister: Stash treats in the center compartments; the dog needs to slide the covers from side to side to reach the treats. Once he is adept at this, the game can be made more difficult by the insertion of bone-shaped stoppers that limit the direction that the pieces can be moved to gain the treats. The stoppers can be inserted at right angles to make it easy for a dog to extract them, or snuggled into the slots to make it more difficult.

We tested one of the knockoffs, as well as Ottosson’s plastic “Dog Twister” model; there was no comparison. Our dogs were finished with the knockoff in minutes; but many designs of the Ottosson toys, like the Dog Twister, are designed with several levels of difficulty and continue to provide a challenge for dogs after months of play. In addition, Ottosson makes more complex toys and simpler toys; as her website says, “Whether you have a ‘Forrest Gump’ or an ‘Albert Einstein’, there is a Nina Ottosson game design to suit every dog!” (Even our young cats got into the action, using their claws to manipulate the pieces; Ottosson indicates which of the toys are appropriate for cats!)

Peanut’s strategy is to use his claws to start the movement of one of the compartment covers . . .

These toys are great for occupying puppies, giving non-ambulatory or post-surgical dogs something to do, or just amusing yourself while amusing your dog!

We purchased from Amazon.com, but the toys are available from a number of online retailers, listed on the website below.

Dog Twister, Plastic – $42

Nina Ottosson Dog Activity Toys
Karlskoga, Sweden

Comments (3)

Just found CleverPet on Kickstarter.com: "The device has three sensitive touch pads, which light up interactively and are designed for your dog's nose or paw. Your pet will win food for touching the pads on the device. CleverPet's software is constantly adapting to your pet, and you can always see how she is doing in real time." They say it has a capacity of about 2 cups of kibble. It seems more interesting than what's currently offered. Dog has to wait for 2 different lights and respond by pressing the correct touch pad to win a piece of food.

Posted by: essmom | May 8, 2014 1:48 PM    Report this comment

We got 2 Ottosson puzzles for our dogs for Christmas 2010. They loved them so much. Our oldest dog would demand to play it every night after dinner by standing in front of the TV and talking to us (husky/lab mix) until we gave her the puzzle. As soon as she found all the treats in the puzzle, she would relax the rest of the night :) She played that puzzle every night from 12/25/2010 until she passed away on 11/05/2011 at the ripe old age of 17. Every time I look at her puzzle, I smile thinking of her. Rest in peace Onyx.

Posted by: Unknown | January 25, 2012 5:21 AM    Report this comment

These are great toys - even for the price. I got all the wooden ones for my dogs and they LOVE playing with them! Both solved the puzzles and it's helped with sparking their interest in new things.

Posted by: Trudi | January 13, 2012 5:24 PM    Report this comment

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