It’s been known for quite some time now that babies should be stimulated with educational toys, even at nearly newborn ages. The more they are exposed to items that make them think, feel, act and respond, the more brain development they can acquire with very little effort. Studies have shown that babies exposed to stimulating, educational toys show remarkable acuity ahead of babies who haven’t been.
The same goes for puppies. You can offer a puppy a toy to chew on and wrestle with, and it will keep the puppy busy for a short time, but they might get bored with it, or just tear it up until the next toy. There’s nothing wrong with this per se, but there’s nothing gained either, except for another destroyed toy. This type of interaction with a toy can also increase a dog’s aggressive tendencies if they are already prone to this type of behavior.
Just like there are for babies, there are now stimulating, educational toys for puppies. One such toy is The Dog Tornado, designed by Nina Ottosson. This toy has 12 compartments to hide treats in. Your dog must spin the layers and remove bones with their paws and nose to uncover treats. The box even tells you the level of difficulty, so you can use toys that work up to your dog’s personal level as your dog grows and matures.
You can find this item through Outward Hound
It’s also available on Amazon and other major pet retailers.
An educational toy that can be used on small puppies, even ones that haven’t left their mother yet but are in the process of being weaned, is the Snuffle Mat. Treats are hidden in the mat and the puppies must snuffle them out. This helps develop their sense of sniffing out and locating things while keeping them occupied and stimulated. Snuffle Mat’s come in various styles and sizes and can be found in most pet retail stores.
There are toys designed for dogs with specific behavior issues, such as aggressive chewers, dogs with separation anxiety, nervous diggers, overly anxious dogs, and more.
Although many of these toys can be used to address symptoms, they won’t address the cause of any behavior issues you might be facing with your puppy. In the meantime, start introducing your puppy to some of these amazing toys that will stimulate, educate, and prevent boredom.
Interactive toys that stimulate, engage, and motivate your dog will keep their mind sharp and teach them to problem-solve as well as keep them from getting bored. Boredom often gets dogs into trouble. Here are some other great interactive items to consider:
Interactive food bowls not only keep your dog from scarfing down its food, but also will force your pooch to use its thinking skills. One such bowl is the KADTC Dog Puzzle Toy Dogs Brain Stimulation Mentally Stimulating Toys Beginner Puppy Treat Food Dispenser Feeder Dispenser Advanced Level 2 in 1 Interactive Games for Small/Medium/Large Aggressive Chewer. It can be found on Amazon and other pet retail stores.
Another great interactive treat puzzle at the intermediate level is the Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Dog Brick Interactive Treat Puzzle which can be found on Amazon as well as multiple pet retailers.
There are various types of Snuffle Mats to choose from, like the Paw 5, which is great for smell training, but also for alleviating boredom and anxiety. These mats, along with the interactive food bowls, also help to keep dogs from eating their food too quickly.
The Belobill Interactive Ball jumps, lights up, and rolls to thoroughly entertain and engage your dog into action. It’s safe to play with, chase, and chew on. This toy is great for the super active dog who needs additional stimulation. This is also available on Amazon or through multiple pet retailers.
All of these items range in price from around $14.99 to $39.99. However, there are things you can do to stimulate your dog in much the same way that won’t cost you a thing.
One suggestion is to play Go Find It with your dog. Take a treat that your dog particularly loves and give them one, then go hide another of the same treat. Tell your dog to Go Find It. The first few times you’ll have to take your dog around, saying the words over and over, leading the dog to the treat. It won’t take long before just the words will signal your dog into action and looking for the treat. This is a great way to engage, stimulate, motivate, and interact with your dog. It also heightens their awareness and smelling skills.
Another idea is to take a towel and wrap treats into the layers of the towel and then have your dog dig at it to release the treats layer by layer, which is similar to using the Snuffle Mat.
In the summer months, for a dog who likes water, fill a kiddie pool with water and then with balls that are an easy size for your dog to grab. Tell your dog to Get the Balls! This will keep your dog busy as the balls keep shifting in the water. They will learn techniques to capture the balls to remove them from the pool. You can even throw some treats into the pool to add to the encouragement.
Yet another idea is to take a large empty plastic soda bottle and put a bunch of treats in it and put the lid on it, then drill some holes in it. Make the holes big enough that the treats can fall out, but not so big that a bunch of treats can fall out at the same time. Let your dog work to maneuver it to get the treats out.
A fun game with your dog is the Muffin Pan Game where you put a few treats into just a few of the spots in a large muffin pan and then put tennis balls over all the spots. Let your dog push out the tennis balls to search for the treats. If they push one out that doesn’t have a treat, put the ball right back in, so your dog must try to remember the ones that don’t have treats.
With all these varieties of games for your dog (and you!) you have multiple ways of keeping your dog happy and stimulated so they don’t develop bad habits due to boredom or anxiety or other behavior issues that can easily be solved by mere brain stimulation. Just like babies, if you keep their minds busy, they become more well-rounded, smarter, and much happier pups.
Here’s a link of Linda’s dog, Hudson, figuring out The Dog Tornado
Here’s a puppy learning how to find food in the Snuffle Mat
Hudson figuring out The Dog Tornado