Doggie Mind Games
We are estimated to spend $58.5 billion on our pets in 2014, which is the highest estimated spending reported to date, according the American Pet Products Association. Not hard to believe, though as we look over at the gourmet organic meal served in a BPA-free bowl, and the bin of toys stashed away in the corner. Its no doubt that our pets are considered part of the family, but now more and more, we’re aware of not only our pets’ physical health, but their mental health as well….just like we would be aware of any member of our family. 67 percent of dog owners purchase toys for their pets, which is the highest reported level of toy purchases in two decades, up significantly from the previous year. However those toys are not just plush and fetch toys anymore, they are treat-dispensing toys and puzzles, designed to make our pets work for the end prize, in fact a quarter of pet owners buy these types of toys for their pets. We want our pets to be engaged, entertained, healthy and young and they rely on us to keep them that way. This growing trend doesn’t’ just involve making our pets work for a treat or prize, we are now also seeing the benefits in making them work for their entire meals. There are 1.6 million dogs using a portion/intake control bowl or feeder to help slow ingestion. These types of toys and feeders have all the same benefits in mind:
- Behavioral enrichment- can entertain pets for extended period of time, so meal or snack time is no longer over in a matter of seconds
- Need to think- there is a certain amount of training and mental activity involved in order for pets to get their food and/or treats
- Work it through- in nature dogs need to devote part of their lives to search for food, these are designed the same for dogs to use their paws, nose and sense of smell to hunt for their food
- Slows ingestion- to help reduce digestive problems and weight issues, especially in multiple pet households
Here are some available puzzles and treat toys from American Pet Products Association members designed with pets’ health in mind:
The P.L.A.Y. Wobble Ball Toy is a treat-dispensing toy that provides hours of interactive fun and enrichment for your dog. Simply put a treat in and reward your dog for their persistence and intelligence as the uniquely shaped Wobble Ball rolls around unpredictably.
The Stuffer keeps pets stimulated and engaged for hours as they work to dispense kibble treats. With two different sized openings, owners can control difficulty levels for their pets as well. For easy play, insert smaller kibble into the holes or to really put Fido to the test, insert larger kibble that can only exit through the large hole for a tougher challenge.
Simply fill the center with your dog’s favorite kibble and allow them to truly be engaged during mealtime. Pets can turn the center and discover the food hidden inside the different compartments and slide the top caps by moving them from one side to the other to reveal their food.
Dogs look for treats by moving blocks in four different directions, using their paws or nose. The block can only be lifted at the end of each track and under each block there is a depression where treats can be hidden.
“Blades” of grass prolong eating time to help avoid choking, vomiting and digestive issues. Gripped feet at bottom helps to avoid sliding. Simply sprinkle your dog’s kibble throughout the feeder and make meal time last longer.
With seven treat chambers, dogs learn to use their nose and paws to lift up cups and reveal hidden treats!
Fetch no longer has to have constant owners involvement. Automatic launcher encourages dogs to pick up and drop tennis balls into launcher to re-launch. They have to have both physical and mental participation in order to bring the balls back to the launcher. Distance can be set at 10, 20, or 30 feet and training tips and tools are available
The Dog Treat Maze is a treat maze that activates and entertains your dog through unpredictable movement to keep the toy challenging. Dogs work to get the Dog Treat Maze in motion so that it wobbles, rocks and sometimes spins around. Treats will then pass through a maze inside on both sides and eventually fall out through the openings on both the top and bottom.
Let your dogs be entertained over and over again as they nuzzle around this rubber tubing to work their way to the tennis ball inside. The blue coloring is also based on scientific research, showing which colors dogs can actually see where as others colors appear in shades of grey.
This healthy and playful solution for dogs who gobble kibble too quickly, has dogs chase food through a fun maze of ridges and valleys. Slowing ingestion and lengthening mealtime helps prevent bloat and canine obesity.
Combine two of your dogs' favorite things – tennis balls & treats! The Tennis Slider encourages natural searching and foraging instincts as dogs rotate outer panels to find tennis ball chambers. Once the outer panels are open, the center slider moves back and forth revealing the four treat chambers.
The Dog Tornado has four layers of rotating discs. In three layers there are compartments where treats can be hidden. Dogs have to learn to rotate the different layers in different directions with its nose or paw in order to find the hidden goodies.
With eight treat chambers, dogs learn to use their nose and paws to lift up the cups and then rotate the spinning top to reveal hidden treats!