Christmas is less than one week away; ONE WEEK! Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet? What about the gifts for your lovable canines? Are you all ready or don't know where to start? If it's the latter, never fear! Atta Pup is here! (Obligatory corny joke complete.)
Seriously though, have you ever wondered, "What would my dog REALLY want?" Here at Atta Pup, we love getting our dogs enrichment gifts. That means things that help them use their brains to get out all of that doggy energy. This energy is nice, but sometimes humans like a little break, and sometimes dogs think abiding by human rules is just plain boring. They need something "better" to do. Below are a few options we recommend for your dog. Some of them you can make yourself, and some can be found at your local pet stores. Many will be found at more economical prices through the links provided:
1.) Flirt Pole
A flirt pole is like a cat toy for dogs. It's a long pole with a bungee cord and a toy tied to the end. The human waves it back and forth, and the dog chases it. Flirt poles are best used outside and can have your dog exhausted in 10-15 minutes. You can make these at home, but it's easier just to buy one. (Personal experience speaking.)
Here's a video:
The next three options fall under the "Working to Eat" subtitle. Trainers love this option, because it allows dogs to be dogs and do dog things. They can sniff, scavenge, chew, and destroy appropriate objects, providing happiness and satisfaction for both pups and humans. It keeps them occupied, works their doggy brains, and tuckers them out while the humans may be busy entertaining or cooking on the other side of the room. Have a look:
Note: I must caution you against the use of weight-bearing bones, such as the white one in the video. This was made a while ago, and we have since stopped using them for dental reasons.
2. ) Food stuffers
These can be anything from rubber toys (like Kongs) to hooves, horns, etc. Anything that you can stuff with yummy treats, goodies, or appropriate people food is an amazing thing to many a dog. Some people use these when leaving their homes for the day so the good-bye is less stressful. Others use them during puppy witching hour when the family is trying to relax for the evening or right before company is about to arrive. These are great pacifiers to help your dog stay occupied, calm, or just be less stressed during the holidays. (Have caution allowing kids near dogs with these highly desired objects.)
Yes, you read that right - puzzles for dogs! Specifically, these are food puzzles. They are usually plastic and include compartments that can be filled with food or kibble pieces. The compartments tip, slide, lift, flip, or spin as the dog moves them. Some puzzles are harder than others, so companies will often have a difficulty rating on the side. Start out with easy (lower numbers) for beginners and increase in difficulty as the dog succeeds. These puzzles help expel doggy energy and give you a much more relaxed pup. Especially in the beginning, dogs should be supervised.
4.) Bottles and Boxes
What if you spent too much on gifts for the humans? No budget left for the dog? Shame on you! Just kidding :) We have a solution for that, too!
Dogs can get just as much entertainment out of plastic bottles and cardboard boxes as they can fancy food puzzles. How, you ask?
Take the cap off a bottle, and put some kibble inside. It's that easy. Let the dog role it around on the floor to get the food out. You can do the same with an old potato crisp can by putting a hole in the lid, but it won't be super durable.
Do you have some extra boxes and paper stuffing from packaging? Wrap kibble up in crumpled paper, and put it in a box. Now, put that in another box, and add a little kibble. Now, do it again. This can be repeated as many times as you like; just keep in mind your dog's focus level and current ability. We don't want to make it too hard for the newbies. Lastly, let your dog go outside with the box and go to destruc-town. You may need to supervise, especially if your dog is a paper eater. (And don't forget to limit the time outside if you live in an area where it gets super cold or hot.)
Have you ever tried any of these ideas? Do you have some other ones? What is your dog's favorite?
Heather Gruber is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.