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Problem-Solving Puzzle Toys A Hit Among Pups, Owners

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Do you think your dog is a real problem-solving pooch? Well now, there are new tools designed to work those skills.

Interactive devices designed to work the canine mind are taking off, CBS 2's Elise Finch reported.

One toy, like the automatic ball launcher, trains dogs to play fetch on their own.

The "Tidy Dog" teaches pups to put away toys, dispensing a treat each time one drops in the bins.

Then, there's an app that allows dogs to "paw paint" on a smartphone screen.

There's even a toy that challenges dogs to search for food inside.

"We have seen one company that was the pioneer, to countless companies now coming out with a full range, from super simple to very sophisticated. We definitely see growth," Tierra Bonaldi said, with American Pet Products Association.

Twenty-three percent of dog owners buy their pooches treat-filled or food-dispensing toys and puzzles, CBS 2 reported.

"It's a great thing for her to do to keep her mentally active," dog owner Derek Simon said.

And pet preferences vary too. One dog Finch observed had no interest in foraging for treats but loved removing puzzle pieces to find them.

But can these toys help you judge if your dog is a real genius?

"I hate to admit it but I don't think so. What I do think is there are dogs with different skill sets and that there are some that are going to be really persistent at trying to figure out a puzzle toy and others that might not be motivated," veterinarian and animal behaviorist Dr. Marie Hopfensperger said.

Experts do say these gadgets can be great stimulation for dogs.

Certified trainer Kate Connell says they can aid in training and keeping your dog active; they also have different benefits for different pet personalities.

"I found it can be very helpful to increase confidence in nervous dogs because they can learn how to accomplish something on their own without your help," Connell said.

By pinpointing your dog's puzzle-solving strengths, you can find the toys they love.

"Some dogs are a lot more persistent about trying to figure out problems and we would call those independent learners. There are other dogs who might try a couple times and if they can't figure it out, they might look to their owners and say. 'Hey, can you help me out here?'" Hopfensperger said.

Simon said his dog's brain teaser toys are worth the money.

"Every new toy I get her she seems to fire out faster and faster," Simon said.

But even Simon admits she uses her old puzzles over and over again.

Pet trainers recommend swapping pooch puzzles with other dog owners so your dog has access to new challenges.

They also add that the puzzles are not a replacement for walking and exercising your dog.

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