“Go play with your toys, I have things to do.” Imagine saying that to your dog. Now you can. Dogs can play on their own, keeping themselves busy, happy and thinking. We can cook dinner, talk on the phone or answer the door in peace. Interactive Dog Toys (as they are called) are here. They are made specifically to keep your dog busy and thinking at the same time, and all without their human directly involved. These games are getting more popular, fun, and complex.
I bought two of them at a seminar recently. With the help of the talented trainers at Narnia Pet Behavior and Training and Pat Miller of Peaceable Paws, the seminar speaker, I purchased Nina Ottosson’s Dog Tornado and Dog Casino. I couldn’t have had better advice. Monday morning we were ready to play.
The toys come with drawers or spaces to move around which hold treats inside. When they master the first part, you can add plug type pieces to make it more difficult.
I put the Dog Tornado smelling extra yummy in Lhotse’s crate. It is smaller than the others and fit nicely into her crate. Without using the plugs, (which make the game harder), I still needed to be in the same room, but didn’t have to supervise 100%. She worked the circular system of levels to open up areas where treats were. She was interested and turned those 3 levels of play around and round until she found all 12 little treats hidden in the layers (total calories=3). It took her about 10 minutes and she loved it
Kaiya played with the Dog Casino, a rectangular toy with drawers to pull out to fetch her rewards. When it gets too easy you can put little wooden pegs to make it more complex. The dog lifts the pegs out and then opens the drawer for her reward. This toy without the plugs took Kaiya less then ten minutes, but she really enjoyed it and came running back for more.
The dogs love their new toys, in fact, when I walked over to the games last night for the correct spelling of the name, Lhotse’ jumped right into her crate for another round.
These toys are popping up everywhere and the dog toy manufacturers are jumping to get in the game. The brand I bought, Ottosson’s, has the most with 15 different games, wood and now plastic. They are made well and are more expensive than others, but I think it may be worth it because of the quality. They are now being rated by difficulty depending how focused and primed your dog is for this activity.
There are also plush toys with plush balls, Kyjen Magic Hat with Rabbits Puzzle Plush and the I-Qube Puzzle Plush Interactive Dog Toy. We have the I-Qube and Kaiya loves it. Star and Lhotse’ well, not so much. There is also the Aikiou Interactive Dog Bowl & Game which provides a slow meal for your dog. As I said, they are all over the dog toy world. Purchase them with your dog’s needs and habits specifically in mind.
The bottom line on all these toys is that almost all of them come with instructions from the manufacturer to supervise their use. That would be this trainer’s advice also. If your dogs aren’t serious chewers then the plush toys are likely OK in the toy box like ours have been for months.
If your dog has been known to rip plush items to shreds, perhaps the plastic one may be more suitable. For me, the cause for concern is the plugs used in the wooden toys to make the toy more complex. Those, even though my dogs are not wood chewers, will always need to be used with supervision although for some dogs it’s not necessary to stand over them. These toys are a great 10-30 minute mind exercise for your dog. The other day the doorbell rang and I put one each in Kaiya’s and Lhotse’s crates, put Star in a heel with me, and answered the door quietly and with order. As I greeted my guest, I watched as they maneuvered their toys for treats. By the time they were finished, they were both in a calmer mood for greeting and the doorbell frenzy was eliminated.