Benefits of Interactive Dog Toys
Long ago dogs foraged and hunted for food. That said, dogs still enjoy and benefit from working to earn their treats. Additionally, interactive dog toys arouse your dog’s senses, and help him engage in problem- solving skills. Some of the benefits of interactive dog toys are the following:
- Weight management: When combined with regular exercise and fun trips to the dog park and dog beach, interactive dog toys will encourage your pup to move around, jump and play, and will give him a reason to not hang out on the couch all day.
- Mental Stimulation: These toys are such fun and encourage dogs to solve problems, and earn their treats. Similar to crossword puzzles for humans, interactive dog toys come in 3 different levels, so that as soon as your pup is bored or has mastered the first level, he can move up a notch.
- Entertainment When You’re Away from Home: Perfect for the pup that gets anxious when he’s left at home alone while you run errands, interactive dog toys allow for your pup to play, and to also have tons of fun at the same time. These are also awesome for when it’s snowing outdoors, or when it’s just too hot to be outside during a sweltering summer’s day.
- Anxiety Buster: Pet parents will go above and beyond to help their pups feel better when going through anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and plain old canine depression. That said, interactive dog toys are mood elevators, and help your dogs to forget why they were feeling down about in the first place.
- Slow Down Guzzlers: If your dog eats super-fast, slow-feed bowls help, as well as interactive dog toys that dispense food or treats. This will prevent your furry best friend from eating fast, choking or vomiting. It can also help prevent canine bloat in your pooch!
- Keeps Him Busy: Admit it, your pup enjoys being busy! Dogs are also curious, and love to play. So what could be better than a dog toy filled with your pup’s favorite treat or filler. Apart from keeping him busy, these toys will prevent your pup from destroying favorite shoes or furniture when bored and alone at home.
Types of Interactive Dog Toys
If you’re looking for the best dog toy for your furry best friend, here’s what you’ll need to keep in mind.
- Your dog’s age
- Unique quirks ( yes, all pups are unique)
- Skill level
Puzzle interactive dog toys help to ease boredom and anxiety in dogs. That said, if you’re trying to slow down a fast eater, opt for a treat-dispensing toy to make him earn his treat. Let’s take a look at how these toys function.
- Ball Launchers: these are awesome electronic launchers that encourage playtime and exercise. A high-tech gadget that shoots balls for your dogs to chase. In this case, you can train your pup to bring the ball back, so that he’ll have continuous fun.
- Vessel Toys: these are available in numerous shapes and sizes, allowing your pup to extract treats from inside the toy through play.
- Treat Dispensers: What would pet parents do without treat dispensers? With all of these, you can encourage your pup to roll, tilt, lick, and maneuver the toy with his paws until he gets his well-earned treat through a small hole.
- Puzzle Toys: Who would have thought that dogs would go crazy over these? Yes, dogs enjoy knobs, buttons, levers, and other elements.
- Sensory Toys: These interactive dog toys emit sounds, words and movements, with some having squeaky sounds, and others being robotic.
It’s important to keep in mind that many of these interactive toys are not meant to be chewed. Additionally, most pups will need to have you around to introduce play with the interactive toy, and to supervise the first few times.
Interactive dog toys should never replace outdoor exercise, and fun trips like hiking, and swimming at the beach. These toys are good for short periods of time, and will keep your pup entertained while you’re out running errands or until the dog walker comes to visit.
Interactive dog toys need to be high-quality dog toys that offer the following features:
- Non-toxic and safe
- Durable and holds up under pressure if chewed
- Regulated if used to dispense food, so that your furry best friend does not end up gaining weight.
Difficulty Levels of Interactive Dog Toys
Interactive dog toys serve a variety of purposes, and are great for providing mental stimulation, and improving focus. This helps with focusing skills in positive dog training too. While they combat boredom, it’s important to keep in mind that you should start off with the easiest interactive dog toys first, and work your way up.
While some dog breeds may find some interactive dog toys easy, others may find them positively puzzling, and take longer to figure out. Choosing the right interactive dog toys for your pup means figuring out your pup’s temperament and patience level. Here’s a guide explaining the difficulty levels of interactive dog toys:
Entry Level(Level 1)
Understanding canine behavior and what triggers your furry best friend means you’ll first have to explore level one interactive dog toys. These toys have larger openings, and are easy for pet parents to play around with, all the while showing their pups how to find the treats. Entry level interactive dog toys are the easiest of all, but are an important introduction to dog toys, and should never be skipped.
It’s necessary to begin with this level, so that your pup does not get discouraged from the start. These will be filled with treats, and will show your pup how to play with these toys. Entry level interactive dog toys will feature the following:
- Play patterns that are easy or instinctual for the dog to engage in.
- Spinning and chaser toys that are colorful and promote easy play with rewards.
Mid-Level (Level 2)
These are slightly more challenging, and will encourage your pup with a new play pattern and new skills. With these level 2 interactive games, you will need to sit down with your pup, and show him how to play. Level 2 interactive toys will have unique shapes that can be bounced, rolled, chewed and nudged to allow for the treats to drop out of the toy. They may also include:
- Picking up the toys
- Lifting up flaps
- Sliding actions to retrieve treats
- Paw levers for positive reinforcement with release of treat
Advanced Level (Level 3)
With these interactive dog toys being the most challenging, dog geniuses thrive on these. If your pup has mastered level one and level two games, then the next step is level 3. What makes level three interactive dog games so interesting is that these are two-step solution games. With the more challenging games, your pup is going to need to complete a few play actions before he solves the puzzle, and gets rewarded with a treat.
That said, some of level three interactive dog toys have smaller openings, and your pup is going to need to work really hard for his reward. Fine for chewers, yet best if supervised by pet parents to make sure that nothing is damaged on the toy, that could pose as a risk for your pup.
With all the advanced level toys, pet parents can add in larger treats, and switch from biscuit, to soft treats or fruit. Yet fruits or soft treats are harder to get out of the toy. When your pup gets to understand how this works, you can add in the larger treats or soft fruits to allow for a longer and more challenging playtime.
Fortunately, with all the awesome interactive dog toys on the market today, there’s so many choices for your pup. Patience is key when it comes to interactive dog toys. Most natural rubber interactive dog toys can be frozen will bits of hamburger, sausage or chicken and broth for those long and hot summer days. This will also help your teething pup keep busy, and ease teething pains.
All interactive games should be supervised until your pup gets the feel of things, and understands what he’s meant to do. Keep in mind that these interactive games, no matter the level, will solidify your bond with your pup. Interactive dog games are also great for promoting appetite in sick dogs, and picky eaters. All toy games should be cleaned frequently in warm, sudsy water, and rinsed well, see our toy cleaning guide. Positive reinforcement with all interactive dog games is key to encouraging your dog play times, it may be necessary to set your pup up for success when he’s having issues mastering a level. This means using high-reward treats that are healthy and low-cal.
Some treats are better than others, but most times, a low-cal option works best. Dehydrated and freeze-dried treats are nutritious, dry and crumbly. Your pup will love these. Keep in mind that medicinal treats should not be used in interactive dog toys, and that when play time is over, treats should be removed and tossed out.
Similarly, pet parents need to keep an eye out for treats that contain exotic meats in case their pup develop sensitivities to them. That said, it may take weeks or months for your pup to master all these interactive games. The secret is to be involved from day one, and to play together with your pup! Combining regular exercise, a high-quality diet, and good veterinary care together with interactive dog toys are all essential for canine brain health, and avoiding potential anxiety problems.
Until next time--