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Monday, January 31, 2011

BAD DOG OR BORED DOG? INTERACTIVE TOYS COULD BE THE ANSWER!


Many people think that their dog is being bad when actually they are just bored. Dogs are pack animals and need attention, either with other dogs or with humans. The need for a "job" is in their genetic code. Most dogs were bred to herd, watch a flock, or protect property or people. Dogs get bored when they have not had the daily exercise or interaction they crave; they need jobs to keep their brain motivated, and stimulation to avoid boredom. When dogs don’t get enough to keep them busy, they will dig, shred, or chew anything available. That can mean indoor or outdoor furniture, shoes, and clothes – in short, anything they can get their mouth on.

In the last few years, many dog toy manufacturers have invented new toys for dogs that stimulate their brain and make it a challenge to keep the dog busy when eating or playing. For example, the Kong is a hard rubber cone made with a hole in the bottom designed to stuff food inside, which forces the dog to work to get it out. Most dogs are food motivated, so they quickly figure out the treasure that is buried inside, and they will do anything to get to the treat. By making these toys pliable, the dog can toss it, roll it, and throw it in the air, and out comes the jackpot. Trainers also use peanut butter or yogurt with the dog kibble to make the challenge of retrieving the treat even harder and more time consuming. For a great, cool summer treat, stuff your Kong in advance and toss in the freezer.

As the suburbs and homes with big back yards have grown, so have the numbers of lazy dog owners. Just because a dog has a back yard, does not mean it is getting needed stimulation. Utilizing interactive toys is a great distraction for the dog during the day while you are hard at work. Stuff Kongs, or hollowed out bones, and hide them in various places in your yard. This will keep the dog stimulated by the treasure hunt. For dogs that are diggers, create a sand box where you can bury toys and treats to distract them from digging in other parts of the yard.

Another item that has become very popular over the last couple of years is the hard plastic oversized balls. Because these balls are too large for the mouth, your dog cannot “possess” them, leading to a push and pull game. This stimulates the prey drive, becomes a fun game, and a great cardiovascular workout -- a perfect “job” for the herding breeds. This is also a great way to keep two dogs occupied by creating an interactive game they can play together. These oversized balls are readily available online, as well as in most big pet retail stores.

Interactive dog toys are made by wide range of companies, but the Stay N Play Pet Ranch team recommends the Kong brand, which is durable and guaranteed. We also like the Premier Tug a Jug, which comes in two sizes. Many people use this type of toy to actually feed their dogs every day, making the feeding experience a workout -- make your dog work for his food as he would in the wild. Keep in mind there was a time these domesticated animals had to hunt for their food, so there is no reason not to make them work for a meal now.

Stop by Stay N Play Pet Ranch and check out our selection of interactive toys that will keep your four legged friend busy and boredom at bay!