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News and Information about Dogs, Cats, and Pet Products

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Ever have a day where you weren’t able to play with your pooch as much as you’d like?  Maybe a day when it’s been way too frigid and icy to play outdoors? Or perhaps you live in a smaller apartment or house, a topic we addressed in a previous blog? I know I’ve had some pretty busy days myself with working and holiday activities, and I’ve found a great solution: interactive puzzle toys.

My dog, Hunter, has a lot of energy. So I needed to find a fun way to occupy his time when I was getting the laundry done or cooking dinner —  and that’s when we discovered puzzle toys.  Hunter and I especially love Nina Ottosson puzzle toys. You can also introduce a similarly interactive element at breakfast or dinner time with Aikiou dog bowls and food stations. These provide some mental stimulation while dispensing your pup’s food.

 

PuzzleToy_Options

There are so many great interactive puzzle options for your pet! Shown here are the Nina Ottosson Tornado and Casino puzzle toys, plus one of several Aikiou interactive food stations.

 

If you have a dog (or a cat!) at home with unused energy and a sharp mind, then puzzle toys are perfect for you – and there are so many options available. What I specifically love about the Nina Ottosson toys are their differing levels of difficulty. They’re designed to match your pet’s intelligence, challenging pups and kitties all the way up to the “genius” level. Plus, each puzzle has different variations that help to increase its degree of complexity. So far, Hunter has been able to get through all the different levels and has gradually mastered each one (at some of the harder levels, you actually need to demonstrate so your pup can learn).

Right now, when I leave the house or need a few minutes to myself, our collection of interactive puzzle toys really comes in handy. I set the toys up for Hunter, so he’ll have a fun and constructive activity to keep him occupied. One of his favorites is the Dog Brick by Nina Ottosson.

 

Hunter_BrickFillers

Hunter highly recommends the Nina Ottosson Dog Brick, which (like most puzzle toys) can be filled with a range of your pet’s favorite treats and even kibble. Sardine & Kelp treats are especially great for skin during the cold months ~ but Hunter just knows they taste yummy!

 

There are endless benefits to using these types of toys. Here are some we’ve discovered:
1. They help prevent boredom. I’m sure many of you have really smart pets who seem to get into everything — but a lot of times, this happens because your furry friend is simply bored or trying to get your attention while you’re doing chores around the house.
2. They actually stimulate problem-solving skills. I have found (and Hunter would tell you) that letting him play with a puzzle makes him happy and keeps his mind busy while he’s using his paws and his snout to slide and flip things around on his Dog Brick.
3. They’re a lot of fun for your pup. Hunter is one happy camper when I set these up for him.  It’s funny how much he’s grown to like these puzzles. Now, when he finds himself feeling bored, he’ll actually bring me the puzzle to set up!
4. They’re multi-purpose. This is one of my favorite things about puzzle toys. They can be set up as a fun activity that provides great mental stimulation. Yet they can also help pets (especially dogs) slow down while eating. Does your pup bolt his food or gobble it down in a couple big mouthfuls? Puzzle toys are a great solution.  In the morning, I fix Hunter’s bowl of food but I only put a little bit of his Zignature Kibble in the bowl. The rest goes into one of his puzzle toys. This way, he has to work a bit for his food. This slows him down and prevents things like choking or bloat from happening.

Some pooch parents may feel bad about putting food in a puzzle toy, because they don’t want their dog to get frustrated or go hungry. But rest assured, this is typically not an issue. In the wild, wolves spend a good chunk of their day attempting to obtain food. For them, this facilitates physical exercise and mental stimulation.  So domesticated dogs who rely on us for food can really benefit when we find creative ways to occupy their mind and prevent unwanted behaviors. Using puzzle toys can provide some of the critical (and necessary!) mental stimulation they need.

When it comes to filling your puzzle toy with treats, you have many different options. Hunter’s favorites are Sardine and Kelp Treats by American Natural Premium, which are great for his skin (but shhhhh, don’t tell him that). Since he has allergies, I tend to stick with limited-ingredient treats. So I (and Hunter) also like PureBites Beef Liver Treats, which are easy to break up. Of course, as I mentioned before, you can always just use some kibble each day to help cut back on calories.

Oh, and I almost forgot another awesome advantage of the Nina Ottosson puzzle toys: they’re dishwasher-safe! This makes cleanup really quick and easy. So if you’re considering puzzle toys for your smart canine or kitty, just stop by your local Two Boston’s and ask any team member for additional suggestions. Remember, puzzle toys also make a fantastic holiday gift for all the other pet lovers on your list!

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[…] want to find great ways to entertain our furry friends. We’ve talked about interactive games and fun puzzle toys in past blogs as ideal winter boredom or busy-day alternatives – but these same options are also […]

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[…] why, we’ve written about the many benefits of treat-dispensing toys many times, including here, here, and […]

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