As an avid dog lover, you want to provide not only a healthy environment, but a stimulating one as well. Interactive toys not only can help develop your dog’s intelligence, but they will provide important bonding time for you and your pooch. Make sure you get durable, rugged toys suitable for rough outdoor play. Such play can bring hours of entertainment and learning opportunities for you and your canine friend.
Rope toys offer you and your pup a fun tug-o-war experience. Often, these types of toys are attached to balls or rubber tires, which can provide hours of fetch time. These toys also strengthen your dog’s neck muscles and help clean his teeth. If you have more than one dog in your household, you may be able to get them interested in playing tug-o-war with each other for times when you can’t keep up with their play needs. Alternatively, you often can get your canine companion to play tugging games with a rope you've attached to a pole or tree.
There are all types and sizes of treat-dispensing toys. Heavy-duty rubber Kong toys can provide hours of fun for your pooch as he tries to lick the peanut butter from the center of the toy, or round or wobble toys can be prodded to dispense small kibble or other favorite treat. If your pup is unfamiliar with food dispensers, start with one that is relatively easy to get the treats out of, and when he learns the tricks of dispensing food, provide a toy that provides a more complicated experience. Some of the more complex ones require your pup to move or remove containers or puzzle pieces to reveal a treat, or spin a lid to get to the food underneath.
Bells and Whistles
Toys that are motorized, make noise or have flashing lights provide entertainment as well as mental stimulation. Make sure your dog can’t get to any dangerous parts. Ball launchers add extra distance to your ball throwing efforts. You can even find automatic ball launchers that your pup can learn to operate independently, oe you can easily train him to drop a ball down a slide, over and over and over.
Improvisation and Imagination
The types of interactive toys you can use to engage with your pets are limited only by your imagination. Take a look at a dog agility course. Make a simple teeter-totter or balance beam to navigate, or use a hula hoop for your job to jump through. A tether ball provides interactive fun, though you might go through a lot of balls, and a real tire swing provides lots of chewing opportunities. With the hundreds of dog toys on the market, you should have no trouble finding appropriate toys for your furry friend. Mix up the toys to provide a fun and varied play time and continue the learning experience.
- Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images