Being extremely social and extroverted animals, dogs require a lot of attention and interaction in order to keep them happy. And for most pet owners, the easiest way to keep their dogs mentally stimulated is to take them out for a walk.
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Indeed, many fur babies love to explore the outside world, where there’s a plethora of sights and sounds, as well as all sorts of sensations that are waiting to be uncovered. But because walks can be so exciting for them, your dogs might get a little too excited and escape. That’s why it’s a good idea to get them their own custom martingale collar to keep them from running off.
However, there are times when you simply can’t take them out for a walk as often as you’d like. The good news is that you can purchase a pet product or two to keep your canine friends occupied even as they play by themselves. That said, not all of them function the same way. If you’re on the lookout for the right items to keep your pet dog engaged, here are some options and why they’re effective:
Dog Treat Dispensers
Your dog will always love yummy treats, but you can’t always be there to give them yourself in exchange for good behavior. Make treat time more challenging and fun by getting them a treat dispenser. There are a number of models out in the market, from push-button dispensers to app-activated versions. Your dog will be busy for hours trying to figure out how the dispenser works so that they can get a tasty reward.
Is your canine companion on the more active side? Keep them busy by giving them durable stuffable toys. These are usually balls with concave holes or compartments that you can put dry treats in. This encourages dogs to try and figure out how to get the treat out of the holes, rewarding them with a tasty snack at the end. And even when it’s empty, it can function as a chew toy, making it a great dual-purpose item.
Considered another version of hide-and-treat dog toys, flip boards can be fun for dogs who are already used to mentally enriching toys. Fitted with knobs, slipping disks, and flipping lids, you can hide treats in this board and just let your dog have fun with it. There are even models that come in a variety of difficulty levels to keep your furbaby challenged for longer.
Do you have a smart dog? Keep them entertained and always learning with a dog puzzle. They’re a notch above flip boards and are designed to help your dogs develop more complex problem-solving skills. Puzzles usually have treat compartments that can be opened by pulling loops, sliding knobs, and moving pins in different directions.
These toys encourage your dog’s natural foraging instincts, discouraging them from digging up your garden or destroying your furniture. Additionally, the act of foraging on the snuffle mat will keep your dog mentally sharp because their senses are stimulated by the mat’s design. Make sure to get a snuffle mat that’s heavy-duty and machine-washable so your pet won’t have to do without their favorite toy for too long.
Food mazes are basically a combination of a doggy puzzle and a hide-and-treat ball. If your dog eats way too much and too quickly, this is a good way to get them to eat more slowly, all while providing them with an enriching mental challenge. You can put their dry food or treats inside of the maze and let them lick, bite, and dig around for their food without having to constantly supervise them. The labyrinth design also creates less of a mess, which can be an issue with normal dog bowls and treat balls.
Have your dog test out their bite strength and natural hunting instincts with a tug toy. Normally, you would need to dangle these in front of your dog’s face to encourage them to bite or chew on it. However, you can hang these toys up on a tree or a pillar in your home instead, allowing them to have fun using it on their own. To make playing with tugs more entertaining for them, you can try adding a bell and a treat-dispensing ball.
Though these pet products come in different shapes and sizes, they all serve a common purpose: keeping your tail-wagging family member mentally stimulated and occupied. Even if you’re not always there to spend time with your dogs, you can show them that you care by getting them one or all of these mentally stimulating pet products. Just make sure to balance it out by spending actual quality time with your dog, too. Nothing will ever beat playtime with their parents, after all!