One of the common mistakes made by dog owners around the world is to assume that the dog only needs to have a couple of walks to stretch limbs
Dogs, like human beings, need to expend their mental energy as well as physical walks, and while ripping toys into shreds might amuse him/her for some time, he/she will get bored sooner or later and indulge in more challenging but potentially undesirable activities. The initial solution to this problem is to provide the dog with toys that require solving of simple puzzles. However, when even these become routine and boring, you need some tips and games to keep your dog interested
Rotate toys and treats
Unless you’re on a really tight budget, it is ideal to keep multiple toys and rotate them in a manner that allows the dog to wonder which toy he/she will get on a particular day. Further, since the dog has already figured out how to get the treats out of the interactive dog toys, it is a good idea to mix up the treats in different proportions each day, or to rotate the treats. This forces the dog to use a combination of ingenuity and memory to come up with the correct method to obtain the treats for the day.
Provide Different Interactive Dog Toys for Different Activities
Dogs, like humans, tend to associate certain emotions with certain specific objects. Many dogs, for instance, will associate four different types of emotions – “carry”, “play”, “kill” and “care” – and attach one to a different toy or other object in the house. Providing a limited set of toys or causing the dog to associate the wrong behaviour type with the wrong type of toy can lead to boredom or even aggressive behaviour.
It is important to provide separate toys for each type of behaviour (so the dog doesn’t become possessive about another household object in lieu of a toy) and that the “play” and “care” toys are the most interactive and interesting as the dog will focus mainly on these two types. Further, while the “play” toy can be rotated regularly, it is important that the “care’ toy be interactive enough for the dog to stay interested for hours on end, since it is near impossible to replace this toy later on without getting some negative and even aggressive response from him/her.
Most interactive dog toys come with one or another form of treat dispersal system. To take advantage of this –
- Take 2-3 toys and fill them with different treats.
- Now hide them in locations which the dog usually does not frequent.
- Create “trails” of treats, putting one or two treats every few feet such that they would lead to the particular toy.
- Once the dog has found and figured out how to unload the treats from one toy, he/she can move from on to the second following a similar trail.
- Provide a big treat at the last location to reward him/her for the physical and mental effort spent.
- Once the dog becomes adept at following trails, make them more complex by passing them under furniture or leaving large blank spaces in between. This can also be incorporated into dog walks
Flip and Tug-o-war
Ideal for smaller dogs and simpler interactive dog toys that do not have moving parts, flip is a game that forces the dog to figure out how to obtain treats from a toy that has not been placed in its usual position. The dog may have to rotate and/or flip over the toy to place it in the correct position and so get the treats out using the standard technique.
Lastly, tug-o-war can be tried out with toys that are durable and stretchable. Keep the toy in the proper position but hold onto it as the dog tries to dislodge the treats. Scold him/her if he/she attacks your hand, but let him/her pull and paw about with the toy itself as much as he/she likes.
Some dogs take a lot of time to figure out the secrets of interactive dog toys, and hence, can be kept entertained using a simple rotation of toys. Others are more inquisitive and would lose interest unless a variety of combinations of the above tips are tried out. Note however that some of the tips are not meant for larger and/or more aggressive breeds since these powerful canines will inadvertently cause damage to the toy if they can’t figure out the solution easily. For most dogs though, these tips should help in reducing undesirable behaviour without having to change the toys frequently.
If you use a dog walker whilst out during the day then why not consider someone that does working walks for something different