Many behavioral problems stem from plain old boredom, so it is important to create an environment that is stimulating and enriching for your pup.
Dr. Laurel Davis, WNC’s holistic vet, offers “Stories from a Holistic Veterinarian”, the blog of a holistic vet and “animal interpreter.” With a clinic in downtown Asheville, NC. Dr. Laurel also offers animal health, lifestyle and vaccination advice for cats, dogs and their human friends across the country.
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9 Things Your Dog Loves about Interactive Toys
Picture this: You’re stuck in the house. AGAIN. It’s raining for the third day in a row, and you just don’t understand why water continues to pour from the sky. You were looking forward to a sweet romp in the yard with your pet human (for some reason, she loves to throw tennis balls around out there), but you haven’t been able to go outside for days! The humans freak out when you start chewing on their shoes out of boredom, but, seriously, what do they expect you to do?!
Enter the world of interactive dog toys, a source of fun and entertainment for the whole family! They provide your pup with mental and physical stimulation…and they just might save a pair of shoes or two.
Your dog might already have some classic toys in her toybox like a tennis ball or rope, but interactive dog toys take it up a notch by adding unique features to keep your dog’s interest high and her boredom level low, including…
- Unusual sounds – like squeakers, sound cards, or crinkled plastic in the tail of a stuffed dog toy
- Unusual movements – like toys that bounce around on their own, have dangling parts, or various textures
- Unusual contents – like dog treats that come out when the toy is rolled around or when a puzzle is solved
All of these features are designed to keep your dog’s attention for longer periods of time, and they can help curb boredom and promote learning. There is a type of interactive toy for every dog’s personality. For instance, if your pup is a foodie, he will probably be interested in a peanut butter-filled Kong®. Your vigilant herding dog might enjoy a toy that dispenses treats as she chases it around the house.
Whatever style your dog chooses (we all know who’s running the show here!), I recommend an interactive toy rotation. Store up a small supply of different toys. Put away most of them, and bring them out when it’s time for something “new” in your dog’s life. A simple two-week rotation in and out of the pup’s life creates the feeling of having multitudes of new toys. Who wouldn’t dig that?!
Here are some types of interactive dog toys:
- Sensory toys – for stimulating your dog’s senses (touch, sound, etc.)
- Treat-dispensing toys – for immediate gratification while playing
- Puzzle toys – for testing your dog’s memory and recall skills
Interactive toys engage your pup’s learning in a creative and fun way. However, dogs enjoy them for different reasons. Here are nine things your dog might love about interactive toys…
They can help him be a good boy.
Many behavioral problems stem from plain old boredom, so it is important to create an environment that is stimulating and enriching for your pup. Interactive toys are a great way to give his brain plenty of exercise and keep him out of trouble!
Treat-dispensing toys are a great first step into the world of interactive toys. Since so many dogs are food-motivated, it’s great to start with something they already enjoy. Even more advanced puzzle toys use treats as a reward, encouraging dogs to engage with the toy in creative ways to find and gobble up treats.
The promise of an unpredictable reward.
Many dogs enjoy the challenge of figuring out what to do and not knowing what or when the reward will come. Where is the treat hidden this time? When is it going to fall out? Puzzle toys and toys that dispense treats at random are good choices for these pups!
The promise of a predictable reward.
Just like some people, some dogs like to know what’s coming. They enjoy depending on the peanut butter being in the Kong and knowing that if they do a specific action, they will get their favorite treat, no matter what.
The fact that you are involved with the new game.
Playing with your dog can be a magical experience for both of you. Our animals understand and appreciate when we make the time to create special experiences for them.
The excitement of catching something (even if it is not a rabbit).
While I am sure dogs enjoy the luxury of having their meals delivered at the same time every day, the hunting and chasing drive is an inherent part of many breeds. Interactive toys, especially ones that move about at random or are used at feeding time like this one, can help satisfy their primal urges, small and large breed alike. Even a six-pound Yorkshire Terrier is hardwired to hunt!
Repetition, repetition, repetition.
Dogs who can fetch a ball 1000 times and still bark at you bossily to toss it for fetch number 1001 enjoy interactive toys for this reason. Breeds that are a bit OCD like labradors or herding dogs especially love repetitive tasks like pushing around a ball to get treats to spill out.
They give them something to do when you’re not around.
If you’re really into spoiling your pup (and yourself), you could splurge on something like the CleverPet or the Furbo Dog Camera. These hi-tech toys let you interact with your pup while you are out of the house.
Playing brings joy, plain and simple!
If you’re like most of the dog moms and dads I know, you probably didn’t even need to read the other 8 reasons. The fact that interactive play tickles your pup’s fancy and lights up her world is probably enough for you. After all, when our dogs are happy, we are happy. That’s all there is to it!
Let us know what your dogs love about their interactive toys and playing with you over on our Facebook page. We’d love to see some pictures of your playing pups in action, too!
Dr. Laurel Davis is WNC holistic vet, offering phone and Skype consultations for animal lovers everywhere. Call 828-254-2221 or order an Ask Dr. Laurel™ phone or Skype session or bring your dog or cat to her downtown Asheville, NC clinic. Read more patient stories.
Get to know Dr. Laurel by reading her blog.
PS: If you want to enter interactive dog toy Heaven, here is a link to Kong’s interactive toys section. Enjoy…your dog certainly will!