Dogs can get bored, especially if they're alone a lot. When they do, many dogs become destructive, digging holes in the yard, chew up furniture, destroying shoes and clothing or simply barking incessantly. One way to prevent these problems and to keep your dog content is to give him brain teaser toys, challenging his ability to solve problems and giving him something to do when you can’t be with him. To make it even more interesting for your dog, hide the toy so he has to search for it before he can get the treat.
A treat ball is a ball with holes in it to allow you to insert treats for your dog to remove from the ball. These balls come in various sizes, with an appropriate size for every dog. You can buy special treats designed to go in the balls or stuff them with his dry kibble, cheese bits or any treats he prefers. Depending on the design of the ball, your dog may be able to empty it of treats in just a few minutes, or it may take him hours to get everything out. Treat balls are typically made of solid rubber that your dog can chew on without damaging it.
Doggy board games are great brain teasers that can challenge dogs on many levels, but these are best used when the dog is not home alone, since without supervision parts of the toys may be lost or destroyed. These games come in varying degrees of difficulty, typically challenging the dog to solve a puzzle in order to get a hidden treat. Dog Twister, for example, uses bone-shaped pegs that hold a cover in place, and only when the dog removes the pegs can he slide the cover and get his treat.
Hide-and-Seek Dog Toys
Hide-and-seek dog toys create a challenge for dogs who enjoy plush toys and toys with squeakers. These toys consist of a plush base and several smaller toys, with your choice of squirrels and a stump, birds with a birdhouse, or bees and a hive. If your dog has never seen these toys, it’s best to let him play with one of the little critters first and then hide it in the base to let your dog find a way to remove it. Since this brain teaser is plush and has squeakers that your dog might be able to remove from the toys, it's best used only when you can supervise your dog.
An empty water jug or bottle can make a great brain-teaser toy -- and it’s free! Remove the lid and any sharp pieces, such as a ring around the neck of the jug or bottle, and place some of your dog’s food or favorite treats down in the bottom of the jug or bottle. He’ll have to put in some effort to figure out how to get the food out, and this is likely to occupy him for several hours. Don’t give the jug or bottle to any dog that is likely to rip off pieces of plastic and swallow them, which could be dangerous. If you have any doubts or concerns about his safety, give the jug or bottle to your dog only under supervision and take it away when he begins to damage the plastic.
- chew toy image by Undy from Fotolia.com