Let’s start with a story. There was once a nice girl, who agreed to take her sister-in-law’s two little dogs while she was on vacation. The two dogs were naturally high energy, and in addition, they weren’t quite used to this new home that they were staying in. The girl worked at home during her mornings and needed a quiet, peaceful atmosphere. The dogs, however, found that the morning was the perfect time to play. Clearly, the girl had to do something about this. She did not want the dogs to become bored, that would only lead them into some sort of trouble. However, she just didn’t have the time to play with them until she finished all of her work.
So the nice girl went to the pet store to see what she could find. She came home with two new toys for the dogs. But these weren’t normal toys, they were extra fun for the dogs. Because, you see, the girl could put food in the toys! The dogs had a lovely time trying to get little bits of kibble out of their toys. They were very happy and had a lot of fun, spending nearly an hour playing, and then took a nap. And the girl was very happy too, because she could get her work done in peace, satisfied knowing that the two little dogs were busy and entertained.
I’m sure this story sounds all too familiar. You’re trying to get work done, or even just relax for a bit, while your dog runs around the house trying to get you to play. Or perhaps when you leave for work in the morning, you dread the return home to see that Fido chewed another remote control or the pillows off the couch. Or you may just have that guilt that many of us loving dog owners have when we just can’t satisfy those big brown eyes that are asking us to play. Well, my solution for you is as easy as driving down to the pet store and picking up one of those special toys! Interactive toys are essentially just that…they require that your dog engages with them to get a reward. And the reward is a treat.
There are quite a few options for interactive toys. My girls are lucky enough to have many! The traditional Kong can be used in multiple ways. They have a couple of different shapes and sizes to meet the needs of any dog, small softer Kongs for puppies and large, indestructible ones for tough chewers. Most are hollow in the middle, where a treat or food can be placed. A newer product is the Buddy Bone. Buddy Bones also come in a couple different shapes and sizes and have smaller places to put little treats. You can also determine how difficult you want to make it for your dog. And lastly, there’s always a hollow bone. Some come already stuffed, but you can continue to use them long after and stuff them yourself. However, with bones, make sure to monitor your dog when you first give it to her to ensure the bone doesn’t chip or splinter at all.
Most products come with “stuffing” however I like to be creative and fill them myself! And of course, the best thing to use is kibble! It’s nutritious for your dog and not just a “filler” like dog treats. However, dog treats can work as well. You can also use peanut butter or canned dog food to stuff the toys. And to make it more difficult for your pup, you can stuff the toy with peanut butter or canned food (or I like to stuff peanut butter with kibble bits) and put it in the freezer! It’s a nice treat for your pup in the summer time and it’s also very convenient to have a couple toys in the freezer for when you don’t have time to stuff a toy.
My girls absolutely love their interactive toys and it keeps them busy throughout the day when I’m trying to get work done, relax, or need to leave them at home by themselves. I will admit, I am filled with guilt every time I leave the house without them, but I’m pretty sure they could careless about me when they’ve got their toys filled with goodies! The stimulation is great for them too because they’re learning, it’s like a training session that I’m not needed for! Elsa has learned that the easiest way for her to get cookies is to roll her toys along the floor, whereas Reese has learned that if she drops the toy onto the floor (or even down the stairs!) the cookies will fall out. My smart girls stay busy, learn, and have fun every time I give them an interactive toy. It’s convenient for me and great for them. And as a dog walker, it’s wonderful to see when an owner has left their dog a stuffed toy to enjoy while they’re away at work. Some clients even leave a toy in the freezer for me to give to their pup when we’re finished with our walk!
So if you haven’t tried it, I certainly recommend getting an interactive toy for your pup, you’ll be happy you did! And I think the pictures speak for themselves…dogs really enjoy them!