Our Favourite Dog Enrichment Toys
Toys, Toys, Toys!
We are always looking for new toys for Barney and Sandy. Ones that don’t just get chewed to pieces, ripped open and destuffed! I have started to look for more dog enrichment toys and games, for those days when the weather is awful or when I don’t have a lot of energy.
Whilst they do just love to chew soft toys to pieces and, this will keep them consumed for some time, it is also good to intersperse soft toys with ones that make them think a bit more and keep them active for longer.
Are Toys A Waste of Money?
I don’t think so, yes they might not last long and dogs seem to lose interest quickly but I still buy our two new toys every so often.
Isn’t it just throwing money down the drain? Think of toys as an investment in your dog, because;
- Playing with toys helps to get rid of pent-up energy by playing fetch games with them, it not only tires them out but you are also bonding with your dog.
- Playing with toys can tire your dog mentally and help promote their problem solving skills.
- Playing with toys, keeps your dog busy and out of mischief.
- Playing with toys can fulfil their prey instinct; if they are ripping their toys, finding their toys or fetching their toys, they aren’t destroying your favourite pair of shoes!
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Our New Dog Enrichment Toy
I recently bought a snuffle mat to try out on Barney and Sandy. I’ve been thinking of getting one for a while, I knew Barney would love it, as he is a real sniffer, but wasn’t sure what Sandy would make of it.
They both really enjoy the snuffle mat, I bought this one (snuffle mat) particularly because of the size but also the bright colours. One thing I try to do when buying toys is find ones that are blue or yellow in colour. Dogs only see blue and yellow colours, every other colour they see as shades of grey. Surprisingly, there aren’t that many bright blue/yellow toys for dogs.
The snuffle mat is not something they get to use everyday, instead I will randomly put their favourite treats in it and ask them to find them (whilst one is using the snuffle mat, the other has a ball with treats in). The snuffle mat helps to train your dog’s sense of smell by using their nose and brain to find treats.
Dog enrichment toys are also a great way to tire dogs mentally rather than physically.
Good, natural chews will help keep them occupied for a while, unless you are like Barney, who chews them for about 10-15 minutes and then wants to go in the garden to bury the brand new chew!
The Antler chew will last a long time and dogs just seem to love chewing on them. Chewing helps to relieve stress and any anxiety, giving that ‘feel good factor’ whilst keeping them busy. However, I would never leave them alone with an antler chew and always ensure you get the appropriate size for your dog, I buy our two small/medium ones.
The Yaker chew is a new one for us, it looks as if it won’t last as long as an antler chew but it is something different for them, it’s a natural chew made from Himalayan yak milk. Sandy definitely is the better chewer (she is the more anxious of our two dogs) so her’s is nearly gone!
I give the dogs a Whimzee chew once a week, to help with cleaning their teeth. Although our dogs are raw fed, I don’t feed them bones. Chews can also help with keeping their teeth clean.
Easy Dog Enrichment Toys & Games
You don’t need lots of money to create enrichment experiences for your dogs. We have two that don’t cost anything and the dogs love them.
Toilet Roll Box
So easy to do and great for mental stimulation, gets dogs using their sense of smell and they really enjoy it. Sandy was a bit nervous at first (she generally is with anything new) but she watched Barney for a while and then tentatively joined in. With lots of encouragement and the smell of treats, she now loves this game.
Don’t throw away your toilet roll tubes or paper towel tubes, save them up, find a box (or use a plastic washing up bowl). Once you have a few tubes, get out some treats, or cheese, or anything your dog really goes crazy for (with our two it’s pretty much anything!). Put the treats in the tubes, you can either turn over the ends to make it harder for them, or stand the tubes in the box and put the treats in the bottom. I do a mixture of both, they love sniffing and finding the treats, but the also love to rip open the tubes to get the treats.
Find It Game
Another great indoor game! Can be done in any room in the house, with some treats.
Start of slowly if you’ve never played it before by asking your dog to sit and stay, then let them watch you placing 2/3 treats around the room. Then ask them to ‘find’ the treats, it is likely that, because they have watched you ‘hide’ the treats, they will find them straight away.
Increase the challenge by hiding treats under cushions, under rugs, in their toy box, whilst they are watching you.
Next I ask them to sit and wait, whilst I shut the door. I then hide the treats and then let the dogs in, they just love it! Searching, sniffing around the room for the treats.
It’s a great way to tire them out, I usually start the game with them watching me hide the treats and increase it to hiding them without them watching me. All the time I am encouraging them to ‘find it’ and when they are close to a treat, I start to say ‘Good boy or girl’ so they know they are close to a treat.
Toys & Games
All toys and games are enriching in some way for your dog, so it is worth considering them as good for your dog’s well-being rather than a waste of money.
Ways to help make toys last longer are;
- Have a mixture of toys, soft toys, tougher chewing toys, balls and interactive toys. Find out which toys your dogs love best.
- Swap toys each week, dogs love the novelty of toys, so keep it fresh for them.
- Throw away toys that can no longer be repaired or could cause some sort of damage if a piece is swallowed.
- Keep one or two interactive toys out of reach and use them for reward training or as special time spent with you.
- Have a selection of chews, dogs love to chew, and better it’s a chew than your favourite shoe!
What’s your dog’s favourite toy or chew? Do you have any other dog enrichment toys and games that they love to play? We’d love to hear about them, let us know in the comments below.