Shop Online  |  My Account  |  Customer Care  |  Order Status
View Cart  | 
Search:

News and Information about Dogs, Cats, and Pet Products

Last week was National Puzzle Day, and at Two Bostons we are celebrating during the entire month of February!  Each store will be having a Puzzle Day over the next few weeks (see dates below). We want you and your pups to come in, learn and try some of our most popular puzzle and treat dispensing toys.  Is your dog up for the challenge?!?!

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 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 stimulate problem-solving skills. I have found that letting Karlee play with a puzzle makes her happy and keeps her mind busy while she while her paws and snout slide and flip it around.
  3. They’re a lot of fun for your pup. Karlee is one happy camper when I get her puzzle toys out.
  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 and they can help pets (especially dogs) slow down while eating. Does your pup gobble his food down in just a couple of big mouthfuls? Puzzle toys are a great solution, they have to work a bit for their food. It slows down eating and prevents things like choking or bloat from happening.

Here are some of our favorite puzzle and treat (or food) dispensing toys:

  • Hol-ee Treat Ball by JW Pet ~ Skill Level – EASY. It Rolls, Slides, Rotates, and out comes the TREATS! Holey moley…this is an awesome dog toy! All you have to do is unscrew the top and fill it with your dog’s favorite treat or kibble. It’s made from durable, non-toxic natural rubber.
  • Dog Magic by Nina Ottosson ~ Skill Level – EASY. Remove the bones to reveal the treats! This is a relatively easy game where your pup must dislodge the bones to get the hidden treats. You can choose to put the treats under one, several or all the bones, to vary the difficulty of the game. Great for cats too!
  • Fun Feeder­­™ by Outward Hound ~ Healthy Non-Slip Slow Feeder. Does your dog think he is at an eating contest? This Fun Feeder ™ will help your dog slow down their race to the finish! Featuring meal-lengthening ridges and mazes, this feeder keeps pups engaged for up to 10x longer at meal time, which improves digestions while helping furry friends eat at a fun, healthy pace. The Fun Feeder™ comes in 3 different colors and designs, it also features a slip-resistant base to prevent sliding and food spillage.  They are dishwasher safe, and available in mini and regular sizes.
  • Bob-A-Log by StarMark ~ Skill Level – EASY. The Bob-A-Lot’s innovative design dispenses treats or food as your pup uses its nose or paws to top it over. The top and bottom chambers can have the dispensers adjusted to make it easier or harder to get the treats out. It is also a great way to stop your quick eaters from gobbling down their food.

Stop in and try let your pups try out some of these puzzle toys at Puzzle Day.  And until February 28, 2017 when you purchase a puzzle or treat dispensing toy you get 20% off Plato Small Bites Treats (any flavor; small, 4oz. bags).

Puzzle Days at Two Bostons: 2/4/17 ~ Two Bostons, Springbrook | 2/11/17 ~ Two Bostons, Burr Ridge | 2/18/17 ~ Two Bostons, Downtown Naperville.

 

 

 

National Cat Day is Saturday, October 29th!  Founded in 2005, by Pet and Lifestyle Expert & Animal Welfare Advocate Colleen Page, the holiday – and its group of supporters and sponsors – support the recognition of the number of cats that need to be rescued each year as well as encourage cat lovers to celebrate the cat(s) in their lives for the unconditional love and companionship they offer.national-cat-day

As a cat lover, you already know about all of the super fun cat toys we have at the stores…here are some of our most popular cats toys for your special feline to celebrate with!

Yeowww Banana by Ducky World ~ This is a customer favorite by far…your kitty will go berserk for this fruit! YEOWWW, what a trip!  No cotton filler, stems or seeds, just jam-packed with premium, 100% organically grown, super-strong catnip.

Kitty Cuddle Pal by Petstages ~ With the colder weather fast approaching, the Kitty Cuddle Pal would make a purrr-fect gift for your kitty!  It can provide warmth and comfort for your kitten on the upcoming cold days.  Simply microwave this toy and place it with your can when you’re away, or any other time she needs comfort.  The Kitty Cuddle Pal is imported and filled with buckwheat.  Your cat will thank you for warming up their winter!

Magneticat Cat Toy by JW Pet ~ What more could capture your cat’s attention than a twitching, singing prey? The Magneticat Cat Toy is made from a weighted bottom that holds a rod dangling a magnetic ladybug.  Using magnetic forces, the ladybug twitches and swings to keep your cat captivated for hours.  No batteries are needed!

Cat Maze by Nina Ottosson ~ Is your cat smarter than average…if so, this is for you to try!  This fun, interactive toy makes your cat work for its treat or food.  The Cat Maze works with the help of your cat pawing and batting to dispense the treats. The bright colors and plastic material make for a great play time! So, challenge your cat with the Nina Ottosson Cat Maze!

cat-day-toys

We have lots of other toys, treats, furniture and more for you to spoil your kitty on their National Holiday!  Stop in to check out all of our cat products.

In last week’s blog: Keep Your Pup Busy this Winter, I told you about a starter puzzle toy to try out with your dog this winter.  Did your pup figure it out already? Or is your pup just so smart that you need to try out some puzzle toys that are little more difficult?  Well, we have them for you!!  Here are some of our favorite puzzle toys to try today!

  • Dog Twister by Nina Ottosson ~ Skill Level – Hard. Spin to reveal the treats! This puzzle toy encourages your pup to learn to dislodge the bones and move the compartments to earn the treat hidden inside.  You can make your dog work even harder by hiding less treats or even locking some of the compartments.  This is great for cats too!

8e70ba2f41103c79854d7e769e2467c9treatball-holee

  • Hol-ee Treat Ball by JW Pet ~ Skill Level – EASY.  It Rolls, Slides, Rotates and out come the TREATS! Holey moley…this is an awesome dog toy!  All you have to do is unscrew the top and fill it with our dog’s favorite treat!  It is made from durable, non-toxic natural rubber.

 

  • $T2eC16d,!zkFJJwSE2bJBSZR2Vfm,!--60_35Dog Magic by Nina Ottosson ~ Skill Level – EASY.  Remove the bones to reveal the treats! This is a relatively easy game, where your pup has to dislodge the bones to get the hidden treats.  You can choose to put the treats under one, several or all of the bones, to vary the difficulty of the game. Great for Cats too!

 

 

  • Tornado by Nina Ottosson ~ Sill Level – HARD.  Rotate the layers to reveal the treats! The idea behind the ‘Dog Tornado’ is for the dog to dislodge the removable bones, then turn the revolving sections to reveal hidden treats.  It has many variables to increase the level of difficulty as the dog’s skill improves.  This one is good for Cats too!COA-054_1z
    c9f2bad2b3f2eef49693cf2db38b5e97
  • Bob-A-Lot by StarMark ~ Skill Level – EASY.  The Bob-A-Lot’s innovative design dispenses treats or food as your pup uses its nose or paws to tip it over.  The top and bottom chambers can have the dispensers adjusted to make it easier or harder to get the treats out.  The Bob-A-Lot is also a great way to stop your quick eaters from gobbling down their food too quickly.

Celebrate National Puzzle day by stopping in and picking up one of these or any of the other several puzzle toys that we have!  Your fur-kid will be thanking you this weekend!

It is cold outside…really cold!  Let’s face it, when it is this cold out you don’t always get your dog out for a walk, so they might be getting a little rambunctious or even getting into things they shouldn’t.  Well, we have a solution for you…we have several puzzle toys that will keep them busy for hours…but if your dog is new to puzzle toys we have a great starter for them, the Dog Pyramid by Nina Ottosson.13256803-origpic-5cd5b6.jpg_0_0_100_100_550_447_85

It wobbles and rocks as your dog pushes it around.  It rolls and is really fun to chase…plus, when the opening hits the right angle, a treat falls to the ground, ensuring that you pup will want to play for hours!

The treats are not too hard to get out, which makes it a great first puzzle activity toy for your pup to try.

The weighted base will ensure that the toy will pop back up and the size of treats you fill it with can increase the difficulty of the toy.  This way you can make it more challenging if your dog figures it out too quickly.

The solid plastic of this toy makes it ideal for indoor or outdoor play and your pup will benefit from the fun and activating brain training due to the fact that it has irregular movements.

As a reminder…with any new toy, don’t leave your pet unattended and when your dog has emptied the Dog Pyramid, put it away until next time.  This toy is not meant to be chewed or thrown around.

We have two sizes of Dog Pyramids…great for any size dog!  So stop by today and pick one up so your dog can keep busy during this cold winter.

MBB_Profile

Some of my cats have been real characters, and some of their cute-yet-quirky behaviors have left me kind of confused. Over the years, I’ve worked with several animal behaviorists, and have learned some interesting things. Here are a few of the elusive kitty behaviors I’ve come to adore and appreciate:

1. Head-Butting. This is often called “bunting,” and not every cat displays it. For those who do, it’s just their way of saying “Howdy my human, you help me feel safe.” It’s also one of the ways cats “mark” you as part of their gang by sharing facial pheromones with you.

2. Chewing on Weird Things. Socks, carpeting, plastic, buckles – much like we humans nibble our nails when we feel nervous, cats often chew on non-food items as a way to deal with anxiety. The problem is, these objects can really irritate your kitty’s gums. Feline stress can be the result of boredom or unchallenged curiosity. Try getting your furry friend some fun interactive toys, such as the Nina Ottosson Cat Maze or Cat Pyramid. These colorful options encourage crafty pawing and batting so that kitty can earn the tiny treats you hide inside (Cloud Star grain-free Buddy Biscuits are a tasty choice). Note that if your cat chews or eats dirt, it might be caused by a condition called pica. Pica can stem from a gastrointestinal disorder or simple nervousness, but it’s always best to check with your vet.

CatFiles

Yeowww! Catnip, center; and the Nina Ottosson Cat Maze, right.

3. Seeking Out Small Spaces. Small spaces help cats feel safe. In the wild, feline survival depends upon stealth – hiding in a small den keeps a cat safer from predators. In addition to a standard kitty carrier, did you know that just the right pet blanket or bed can often work wonders? One of our very favorites is the fluffy, 3-in-1 Favorite Pet Products Trundle Bed, because it comes in great colors and can be arranged in a super-secure “cup” shape, as a snuggly sleeping bag, OR as a regular cloud-soft blanket. Let kitty decide depending on the day!

4. Staring. This is not a mind-control maneuver; your cat is often just trying to get your attention or coax a tasty treat from you. Looking for a yummy, healthy, 100% natural option? Try freeze-dried Purebites, which are easy to take along anywhere.

5. Yowling at Night. Cats are naturally nocturnal, which can be kind of a bummer when all you want is a good night’s sleep. You can help curb excess nighttime energy and the urge to hunt with intelligence-stimulating games like the feather-riffic Kong Glide ‘n Seek. Another great go-to option (though you’ll probably want to stay awake and watch the amusing spectacle) is extra-potent Yeowww! Catnip.

Stop by any Two Bostons today, and ask our Team for more fun, feline-friendly suggestions!

MBB_Profile
Do you have a pup who tries to bolt every time you open the door? It’s a discouraging problem. As caring pet parents, we try to give our pets the very best of everything: a safe living space, a snuggly bed, healthy food, yummy treats, companionship. So why would they try so hard to get away?

“The majority of dogs are naturally curious,” notes Dr. Natalie Tate, DVM. “They like to explore and discover — so if they’re only taken out for occasional short walks and potty breaks, they make decide to seek out more activity.” Fortunately, not every dog is a natural runner. Just like people, certain canines are natural homebodies. Others simply lack the height, speed, or agility to ever make a serious go of it. Still others have a somewhat timid temperament, and would never dream of exploring uncharted territory on their own. But if you have a dog with a taste for increased adventure, there are steps you can take today to prevent problems later on.

Amp Up Excitement at Home
Nice, long walks provide physical exercise and mental stimulation. Natural, healthy, tasty chews like Bully Sticks, Antler Chewz, or Sam’s Yams veggie rawhide keep even relaxation time interesting. Interactive puzzle toys (including most of the amazing creations from Nina Ottosson) engage your dog’s natural curiosity and enhance his innate intelligence.

Teach Proper Recalls – and Teach Recall Properly
Getting your canine to come when called is part of basic puppy socialization training, but it definitely takes some work and practice. Always give your pup a really good reason to come back to you –reinforce the behavior with delicious treats (like Cloud Star Tricky Trainers), tons of praise, and/or lavish attention. Even if it takes your dog awhile to respond to your command, do NOT reprimand him when he finally does come back. Ever. This only teaches your pup that if he allows himself to get “caught,” bad things will happen. You want your dog to believe that, when it comes to being part of your awesome family “pack,” getting “caught” is a fantastic thing.

Make It Easy for Others to Return Your Dog
With the sheer speed of travel these days, a pup who does get separated can literally end up miles away from you in a matter of minutes. The good news is, there are animal-loving good samaritans who want to reunite dogs with their pet parents … so make their job as easy as possible. Inexpensive, etched aluminum tags may seem like a cost-effective option when you buy them, but it doesn’t take long for your information to wear away. Think about it: even a hazy digit or two could mean the difference between a tearfully happy reunion and a tragic end at the shelter. So ALWAYS purchase a good-quality steel or pewter tag that’s engraved to last (super-sturdy options we especially love at my house include Hot Dogs, Red Dingo, and Silver Bones tags). Then make this tag, along with your contact information, as large as possible and fasten it to a sturdy, dependable collar like any of the offerings from Up Country. After all, you want the tag in place, and very easily seen, if a total stranger attempts to lean in and help your nervous pup. As a backup, also get your dog microchipped and keep the information up-to-date. This way, a shelter, rescue team, or vet will be able to retrieve vital data with a special scanning wand.

Stop by any Two Bostons store, and ask a Team Member for additional suggestions on items that can help keep your own hot-to-trot hound safe, secure, and close to home.

HeatherD_Profile

Hey all! Heather here (along with Lilu and Ahsoka). If you’re anything like me when I first brought Lilu into my life, you might be craving a little insight and information on key puppy essentials — things you’ll need right away when bringing home your new furry family member! I encourage you to stop into one of our locations and ask any Team Member for a copy of our detailed New Puppy Checklist, which they’ll be happy to review with you. In the meantime, here’s a short sampling to help you get started:

  • Two Ceramic or Stainless Steel Dishes. One for food, one for water. Stay away from plastic bowls, as they can get microscopic tears and scratches that harbor bacteria – which can then be transferred to your dog’s food or snout.
  • Rubberized Food Mat. A rubber mat is fantastic for easy cleaning and keeping bowls in place. Lots of puppies can get overexcited with their food, and push their bowls around while eating. This kind of mess is minimized (and cleaned up way more easily) when you have a rubber food mat.
  • Durable Collar. You’ll most likely get a few collars over your dog’s lifetime, but a good sturdy one will last and last – and a super-cute pattern makes it so much more unique! Up Country offers some great choices that satisfy both needs at once.
  • Leash. My favorite is the Slackline Leash by RuffWear. Check out my blog from last year to see why my girls and I love it so much!
  • Sturdy Harness. We always recommend a harness, right from the start. Why? Because when a puppy is rambunctious and bounding every which way, he can pull very hard on the leash. Collars can put tremendous pressure on the neck and windpipe — and this can lead to chafing injuries, windpipe collapse, or choking. A properly fitted harness does the trick when it comes to easing pressure off the neck area. Check out the Up Country Step-In — awesome patterns, great functionality!
  • Comfy Bed. A bed is enormously soothing to a nervous new pup in a brand new space. Ahsoka has been using her Bowser Bed since day one. She’s turning five this year, but has considered this bed her safe haven since her very first day in our house. Bowser Beds are fully machine washable and made to be extremely tough — up to 8 times more durable than most other beds. You can even use the center part of the bed as a snuggly liner to make your pup’s crate feel safer and more comforting.
  • Smart Starter Toys! Start your pup off with at least one sturdy chew toys, like our Jax and Bones Rope Toys or even an all-natural bully stick. As a really nice bonus, you can actually wet and freeze Jax and Bones toys to create a soothing chew solution for teething issues. Also consider at least one interactive, intelligence-stimulating toy like the Ourpets IQ Treat Ball, the Planet Dog Snoop, or an awesome Nina Ottosson Puzzle Toy. These will keep your curious canine busy and happy while you’re cooking dinner or doing the dishes!

NewPuppy_Essentials

This is just a small sampling of the key items you should have on hand when you first bring your new pup home. Stop by any Two Bostons with your brand new furry friend, and we’ll gladly give you a complete copy of the New Puppy Checklist along with our own firsthand suggestions. Remember that our Team Members are specially trained and certified to measure and fit your pup for the precise gear he needs to keep him safe and comfortable as he continues to grow!

BriannaM_Profile

As pet owners, we always 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 a perfect choice during the “dog days” of summer! Interactive games and puzzle toys capture interest and exercise curious minds any time of year. Part of the fun is that they incorporate your pet’s favorite food or treat in a way that challenges them to keep playing.

Food is a prime motivator for my dogs. It encourages them to play with a toy and then play some more, putting in the extra effort to figure out how it works. They love pushing, biting, rolling, and experimenting with different strategies – trying to find the fastest, most efficient way to get at that food! Then they return to the toy again and again, because you never know when there might be a few more yummy rewards in there, just waiting to be found.

As we’ve mentioned before, many interactive games and puzzle toys can be used for entertainment while you’re busy doing other things. Knowing our pups are productively engaged while we’re otherwise occupied gives many of us pet parents extra peace of mind. It also makes the time pass more quickly for our pets – and that means less chance of destructive behavior!

Now your pet is not going to love every single interactive game or puzzle toy out there. So luckily, our Two Bostons stores carry a great variety of options to suit pets of all shapes, sizes, and personalities. Some of these products are durable plastic puzzle games, including several excellent options from Nina Ottosson. These include the Dog Tornado (my dogs’ special favorite), the Dog Twister, Dog Magic, and Dog Treat Maze. We also carry a range of plush puzzle games. These include Kyjen’s squeaky Hide-A-Squirrel, Hide-A-Bird, and Hide-A-Bee, which let your pet hunt for a fuzzy friend. Last but not least are treat balls, which come in lots of different shapes and sizes. Popular customer picks include the Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball and the IQ Treat Ball by Ourpets. Don’t forget that many puzzle toys go all the way from a beginner to an advanced level. This is a big bonus, because it means your pet can stay engaged with the same toy over time — even as they master each new level. Ask anyone on our Team for suggestions.

 

PuzzleToy_Party

What’s the best thing about a puzzle toy party? Technically, you only need ONE hors d’oeuvre because those hungry pups just keep trying … and trying … and trying to get at the treat!

 

Like I said earlier, I use the Nina Ottosson Dog Tornado with my three dogs (see pics above) and they love it! The Tornado looks like a giant blue bone with four spinning layers. Inside each layer, there are little pockets to put treats, food, peanut butter, even frozen tidbits (the toy is freezer-safe). To get to the yummy reward, dogs have to turn the layers of the bone. I especially love this toy because my pups don’t usually find all the rewards right away. This keeps them highly entertained as they keep trying to figure out how to get those last few morsels! I would say the Tornado is considered a beginner interactive game, and it’s a great starter option if your dog has never tried this kind of toy before.

Remember that you should never give your pup or kitty a new toy for the first time without supervision. Always watch to see how they react, and if there are parts they might try to gnaw, claw, or pull off. Also, make sure there are no loose pieces that could be chewed apart or swallowed when you’re out of the room.

Stop by any of our locations today, and bring along your furry friend! We’ll be happy to introduce you to our favorite interactive toys, and suggest a few options that are perfect for your pet.

MBB_Profile

Awhile back, I asked my niece – who owns a calico kitten named Hazel – what she likes best about cats. She said, very matter-of-factly, “I like cats because they’re so cute. But I like dogs too, because they’re smart.”

I thought that was a pretty fair statement, even for a 5-year-old.  After all, dogs perform an awful lot of important roles in our society. I mean when was the last time you ever heard of a drug detector cat, a police cat, a seeing-eye cat, or a military bomb-sniffing cat ? But then again, is that because dogs are actually smarter, or um,  just a little bit more … cooperative?

I started checking around with pet behaviorists, and even an animal psychologist. Here are a couple of interesting facts I learned, which are all confirmed by Psychology Today:

  • Unlike the brains of dogs, the brains of cats have a surface area and structure that is about 90 percent similar to humans.
  • In an average cat, the cerebral cortex – i.e., the part of the brain responsible for cognitive information processing, decision-making, language interpretation, sensory input, and problem-solving — is larger and more complex than that of the average dog. In fact, a cat’s cerebral cortex contains about twice as many neurons as that of a dog.
  • Cats have more nerve cells in the visual areas of their cerebral cortex than humans and most other mammals.
  • Cats have longer-lasting memories than dogs, especially when they learn by doing rather than just seeing.

So long story short, cats are a great deal more intelligent than many people might suspect. Their independent streak can work against them, though, because many pet parents might presume their cats just want to be left alone. In truth, a cat can benefit tremendously from regular mental stimulation — especially when all the windows are  covered with frost, or that cat’s humans are away at work eight hours a day.

InteractiveCatToys

Most pet parents realize that their cats are MUCH smarter than many people might suspect. Stimulate this proven natural intelligence with fun, activity-based toys from Bergan, SmartCat, and Nina Ottosson.

 

So maybe one of your resolutions in 2014 involves some beneficial “brain training” for your best feline friend. What are some of your best options? When it comes to independent or group kitty play, consider activity-based toys that involve sensory stimulation and invite your pet’s direct engagement.

 

Cat Texts

Cats are extremely smart and curious, so they can get into mischief when left to their own devices. We realize they can’t actually send texts like Mittens here. Well all right, we wouldn’t put it past them.

 

At Two Bostons, there are a couple of options we especially like. SmartCat makes several sensory-stimulating products that leverage your cat’s natural sense of curiosity.  Bootsie’s Bunk Bed & Playroom, for example, is an ideal choice for multiple cats. It’s a sturdy wooden block that features numerous round openings for paws and toys to poke out.  It also has two bouncy spring-action toys on the outside, plus a comfy quilted pad up-top for rest breaks or gazing outside at those pesky sparrows. A great companion piece is the Peek-and-Play Pet Toy Box, which has a durable wood construction with a “Swiss cheese” design that provokes your cat’s natural predatory behavior and works with a variety of toys – Yeowww! Brand Catnip Toys are one great option.

For many cats (including my own), another all-time favorite is the Turbo Track made by Bergan. This is actually five toys in one, because you can snap the modular pieces together to create a range of different track designs. You can even add accessory pieces to increase complexity and elongate the track even further. I think of this piece as a sort of “Hotwheels/Habitrail” system for cats. They just love to paw and pounce at a round object as it scoots around the track, which can keep them actively occupied for hours … which, in turn, can mean they’re much less likely to claw at your drapes or become frantically entangled in Grandma Polly’s hand-crocheted afghan.

If you have a super-smart feline friend, give that natural intelligence a workout with any of our great activity-based cat toys by SmartCat, Bergan, Nina Ottosson and others. Any Two Bostons team member can provide suggestions that are custom-tailored to your kitty’s tastes. Don’t forget that we carry an extensive selection of interactive puzzle toys for your smart pooch, too!

JenJohnsen_Profile

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!