From walks and feeding sessions to grooming and cleanup duties, being a pet parent is a big commitment. Of course, it’s also the type of bond that brings great joy and companionship, especially when playtime is involved. While recreational activities are great for keeping your dog fit, the right type of toys can enhance the experience and even help your dog during the socialization and training process, especially if behavioral issues are prevalent. This is where interactive dog toys come in. Not familiar? Trust us, they’re a game-changer. Here’s why every pup should have a few of these playthings in their dog toy box.
What Are Interactive Dog Toys?
Interactive dog toys stimulate your dog on both a mental and physical level. We’re not talking about your average tennis ball or rope toy that only encourages chewing and physical activity. These toys are more like games and puzzles that prompt your dog to put on its thinking cap and do a little problem-solving. They’re excellent for banishing boredom while keeping dogs on their paw pads.
Benefits of Interactive Dog Toys
Sure, interactive dog toys provide canines with hours of amusement, but they have additional benefits that are sure to please you, too.
Help develop good eating habits
While most cognitive dog toys dispense treats, there are some specific varieties that are designed to be an eating vessel for an entire meal – often called slow feeders. This is a great option for canines who tend to wolf down their food, thus leading to digestive issues such as vomiting and gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), which is known as “dog bloat.” On the flip side, food toys can help motivate picky eaters to chow down because the instinct to “hunt” for their food kicks in.
Crate training can cause some dogs to have feelings of anxiety, but interactive toys help keep your dog’s mind busy so they aren’t thinking about being confined. They are also helpful to have around the house if nobody is home for a while—better that they’re playing with a stimulating toy than tearing into your furniture because of nerves or boredom.
Support solo play
While it’s important to spend quality time with your dog, sometimes you need a moment to yourself to prepare dinner, get the kids ready for school, or catch up on chores. Puzzle toys don’t necessarily require a human partner, which means your pup stays mentally stimulated and amused while you go about your business.
Keep troublemakers out of trouble
Whether you have a new puppy or a mischievous hound, interactive toys can prevent boredom and allow for curiosity without the potentially destructive or dangerous (getting into something harmful, for example) side effects.
Helps prevent dementia in senior dogs
Just like us, dogs need to exercise their minds in order to prevent cognitive issues like memory loss. Dog puzzle toys to dogs are what crossword puzzles are for senior humans; they’re a great way to keep their minds sharp and active.
Types of Treat Puzzles for Dogs
The best puzzle dog toys banish boredom, teach problem-solving skills, ease anxiety, keep dogs entertained, maintain weight, and prevent cognitive decline. While it’s difficult to find an interactive toy that doesn’t incorporate treats, there are many options to choose from:
- Treat-dispensing balls
- Tug jugs
- Shaker-style toys
- Bobbers like the KONG Genius or Wobbler
- Twist toys
- An interactive ball (with hidden treats) launcher
- App-controlled robot designed to keep your dog active in mind and body
While some dogs are smart enough to dive right in and start playing with a treat toy without much guidance, others may need a bit of a nudge. Start with an easier toy and work your way up—you may actually have to show your dog how it works. Consider filling it with a high-value reward treat until they get the hang of it.
KONG Club Makes Playtime Fun
One of the many benefits of interactive toys is that they can banish boredom, but keep in mind that you should still be choosing the best options to meet the specific needs of your dog. Take the guesswork out of toy shopping and work with the experts in your KONG Club app to identify the right toys for your pet’s breed, temperament and age. KONG makes a wide array of toys to help keep your furry friend engaged and out of trouble so you can continue to run a harmonious household. Happy dog = happy owner!