Most pet owners lead busy lives. After a hectic day at the office, the stresses of running a household and taking care of a family, sitting down on the couch with a warm cup of tea, or a glass of wine, is what many of us look forward to at the end of the day. Often, the last thing we have the energy for is a walk with our dog or a game of fetch, but the truth is our dogs sit at home all day, waiting for exactly these types of actions to take place.
You might arrive at home to find that a bored dog has chewed up your beloved couch, a favourite pair of shoes, or have dug up your newly planted hydrangea. Our natural response is a feeling of frustration, but the truth is, we are responsible for our furry friend; it’s up to us to provide them with enough physical exercise and mental stimulation.
So why not invest in an interactive dog toy?
Interactive dog toys are the latest version of a nanny, a dog walker or a pet sitter. Not only does an interactive dog toy keep your dog occupied, but it also teaches your dog problem-solving skills and stimulates them both mentally and physically. Puzzles fuel the mental capacity in dogs, as it teaches them to think about how to move the domes around to release treats or kibbles. The lure of the treat keeps them engaged and mentally stimulated.
What exactly is an interactive dog toy?
Interactive dog toys and puzzles are specifically made for entertaining your dog. These toys are designed to be an outlet for your dog’s excess energy in a positive, playful, fun, and importantly, non-destructive way. Not only are these toys great for dogs of all ages, but they also have an added benefit of keeping dogs amused that may be physically limited – especially a dog recovering from surgery or an injury. Certain dog toys are designed to reduce the strain of games by allowing an injured or recovering dog to work with their nose, as opposed to moving around with their paws. It is a big challenge to keep an injured dog still, but these games are designed to provide a recovering dog with a suitable outlet of energy.
The benefits of mental enrichment
According to studies 15 minutes of mental exercise is the equivalent of 30 minutes of physical play. Interactive dog toys are a perfect way of keeping a busy dog occupied, and there are a huge variety of interactive dog toys to choose from. Treat dispensing games are some of the most popular choices, as dogs are occupied with play that rewards them with tasty treats. Kibbles, biscuits, peanut butter and other treats are hidden within these toys and spark interest in your dog to keep engaging. Another benefit of treat dispensing games is to slow down speed eaters and certainly makes mealtime more fun. Interactive dog toys challenge your dog on a day-to-day basis. While it’s obvious that all dogs need exercise, many people do not understand the importance of mental stimulation; it boils down to your furry friend leading a happy and healthy lifestyle.
Improving the bond between you and your dog
Dogs can use interactive toys for solo play, but it’s also a great way for them to interact with their owners to form a stronger bond. A close relationship with your dog is rooted in successful training and obedience. Mental activation from interactive toys makes a dog more susceptible to being trained, as it teaches them to focus, and instils in them the idea that good behaviours lead to rewards.
How do I incorporate interactive toys into my dog’s routine?
It is recommended that dogs play with a puzzle toy for at least 15-30 minutes a day. Let your pup play for their food by hiding treats in different puzzle toys and games. You can introduce a puzzle game to any dog, regardless of their age, health situation or activity level. Initially, all young pups need a lot more training and attention, and it is recommended that the owner invests in time with them and in games that are short and simple. Always remember to praise your dog for their good behaviour and accomplishments! This teaches your dog that good behaviour is responded to with affection, and ultimately our dogs want to please and love us, as much as they want to be loved by us.
Interactive dog games come in various levels. Typically the first level will help pups to engage with the game and build confidence. Once your puppy has mastered the first level, you can challenge them with further levels and keep challenging them as they outsmart introduction puzzles.
The benefits of interactive toys for your dog are countless. Your dog is an integral part of your family and investing in your furry companion will be beneficial to everyone. A bored or unsatisfied dog will show its frustration by displaying bad behaviour. An interactive dog toy is a simple and affordable answer to keeping your dog happy, trainable, well behaved and most importantly: loved.