Caitlin UltimoPet Parenting / Pet Supplies

Toys That Make Your Dog Think

We love our pups for many reasons, including their seemingly boundless amounts of energy. But if not given the right outlets, energetic and intelligent dogs can quickly become bored. And boredom can lead to bad, sometimes destructive behaviors. Making sure your pal gets enough exercise (and the right kind) is a key to keeping him calm and well behaved. But for those days when long walks and games of fetch aren’t possible, there are toys that will put your canine’s brain and energy to good use. Here are some of our favorites:

Tricks and Toys That Treat

The Kong Classic is a toy and treat in one. Made of strong, chew-resistant rubber and shaped like a three-tiered doughnut, it bounces unpredictably, making for a more stimulating game of fetch. It can also be used to calm and focus your pup energy. Fill the hollow middle with peanut butter or stuff it with treats to help keep your dog interested in a fulfilling task he concentrate on.

Similarly, the Bob-a-Lot–basically a squat bowling pin with little treat-dispensing windows–keeps your pal busy. She must nose or push the toy along to get her dog treats out, giving her the perfect incentive to keep playing. (When using any treat-dispensing toys, just be sure to count those extra calories toward your dog’s daily allotment. Or, use some of your pet’s dry kibble for the toys, rather than higher calorie treats.) Other good edible attention keepers include everlasting dental treats.

Surprise Moves

If you prefer to stimulate your dog’s mind without adding extra calories, consider dog interactive toys that “hide” or move erratically. For instance, the Kong Classic Jump’n Jack and the JW Pet Hol-ee Roller both bounce every which way when you or your dog tosses it. When your pup decides to play on his own, the unexpected movement can be enough to simulate a solo game of fetch.

Sneaky toys, such as the Outward Hound Hide a Squirrel Dog Puzzle or Zippy Paws Burrow toys feature a plush “log” with holes from which soft animal toys peek out. Many dogs are motivated to dig around until they get those pesky critters out.

Remember, even the most stimulating dog toys aren’t a substitute for proper exercise and attention from you. But if your dog gets a little of all of them, you just might have one satisfied–and smart–pup on your hands.