Puzzles are all the rage, especially at Christmas time. If you are under the impression that puzzle toys are only meant for humans, then you are mistaken. Dogs of all sizes can benefit from interactive puzzles; they are a great way to challenge and strengthen a dog’s mental and physical capabilities. Interactive puzzle toys are often recommended by veterinarians and dog trainers to help keep your dog busy when you are away.
What are Interactive Puzzles
Interactive puzzles or dog toys are meant to stimulate and challenge your dog incorporating problem-solving skills into his daily routine. These puzzles can keep pets busy for hours. Treat dispensing dog toys reward him for solving puzzles and keep him active physically and mentally while you are away. There are many forms of interactive toys ranging from simple hide-and-seek to lifting blocks or sliding bricks to retrieve food. Different personalities and breeds may dictate the most successful puzzle or game choice.
Benefits of Interactive Puzzles
- Slow Down Feeding – You can actually feed your dog his entire meal using certain food puzzles. They are an excellent choice for slowing down pooches who eat too quickly and preventing unpleasant side effects like vomiting and indigestion.
- Exercise – Food puzzles can provide exercise for your dog’s mind and body.
- Relieves Boredom – Dog puzzle toys can successfully cure boredom that can lead to behavior issues.
According to Nina Ottosson, the designer and CEO of the Swedish-based puzzle toy line Outward Hound, “dogs have four legs and one head, and all five need activity in different ways—every day.” By incorporating dog puzzles and dog games into your dog’s daily routine, “you can efficiently train your pup to behave, instead of letting him create her own fun,” explains Ottosson. Bad behavior manifests itself when a dog is bored, so prevention is the key.
Ottosson recommends that your pup play at least 15-30 minutes a day with puzzle toys. An easy way to add this to your routine is to let your dog work for his food by hiding the treats in different puzzle toys and games.
The beauty of dog puzzle games is that they can be introduced to any dog no matter their age, physical activity level or health situation! For puppies, it is important to start with games that are simple, short, and that require lots of interaction with the owner as well as positive feedback and praise. For senior or injured dogs, you can reduce the strain of games by letting them work with their nose as opposed to having to move around their paws. Ottosson says, “It can be challenging to keep an injured dog still for several weeks, but the games are a great activity that lets the dog get an outlet of energy.”
At Braxton’s, our product of the month of December is Nina Ottoson’s Outward Hound. Stop by to see our selection and ask our knowledgeable staff for suggestions for your pet.