With the holidays around the corner, are you looking for some great gifts for your pooch? Why not obtain a double benefit – getting your dog a gift and mentally stimulating your dog - by getting your pup some interactive toys! Dogs of all ages, not just puppies, enjoy interactive toys. Even my 10-year-old dog enjoys a Kong filled with frozen food and eating his kibble out of a puzzle!
Your dog uses his muzzle or his paws to move pieces around in a doggie puzzle; when the pieces move, your dog gets to eat the kibble that you put in the puzzle. Not only do puzzles slow down a too-fast eater, but they also use mental energy and help tire out your dog. Here are some links to my favorite puzzles: Dog Twister, Star Spinner, Aikiou Interactive Food Bowl, and Interactive Dog Toy.
Dogs naturally love to pull things out of other things, so a few companies created toys that allow your dog to pull out other toys from a “holder” toy! Then your dog can have even more fun playing with the “inside” toys! You can restuff the holder toy for your dog again and again. And…a huge perk is that you can buy refill “inside toys” if needed! Look at these examples: Outward Hound Hide–A-Squirrel (or a turtle or whatever toy appeals to you!), Loopies Bright Bag O Balls (or planets!), Zippy Paws Burrow Log & Chipmunks.
Most food fillables are made of durable rubber. A very popular brand of fillables is the Kong. Make sure to get a size and toughness that is appropriate for your dog’s jaw. Puppies need softer Kongs (pink, blue and red) and super chewers may need the black Kongs. Another fillable is the Rhino Cone. Mix kibble, canned food, and water together to fill your fillable with homemade “paste.” You can even use your blender to create the paste or purchase dog paste made for fillables. Sometimes I like to top the fillable off with some mashed banana or some cooked sweet potato. In general, I avoid peanut butter because it is messy and high in fat for my dogs. If you want to use peanut butter, consider using natural peanut butter (just ground peanuts – no sugar, no oils). Refrigerate or freeze the fillable so it takes your dog longer to enjoy licking out the paste!
For these toys, you put kibble into the dispenser and your dog must learn to move the dispenser around using his snout or his paws. Pieces of kibble will pop out of the toy. Ensure that your dog is not near stairs and consider securing your dog in just one room of the house when using this toy. Here are some fun dispensers: Kong Wobbler, IQ Treat Ball, and Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball.
Always supervise your pooch with new toys to ensure he plays and interacts safely with the item. Happy shopping! (Many vendors offer these toys. Amazon links were provided because most readers are familiar with Amazon.)