Like people, your pet needs to keep his brain stimulated and challenged. He needs both physical and mental exercise daily. If not given the opportunity to exercise and release energy, dogs of any size can become anxious, frustrated or destructive. You may send him out to play in the yard, or take him for a long walk, but his brain needs a work out as well. Did you know that wild dogs would spend about 80% of their waking hours hunting and scavenging for food? While domestic dogs have been beside us for thousands of years, and are bred for specific purposes, such as hunting, farming or protection, their survival once depended on lots of exercise and problem solving. Today that’s all changed. Now the most common job description for a dog is lounging on the rug or a comfy chair waiting for his owner to come back home. While you are at work all day, he is probably asleep. Upon our return, he is served food in a bowl with no effort required from him, usually consuming more calories than he needs, resulting in a dog who is bored silly, is overweight and has too much energy.
Pet owners are often away from home for much of the day. Many dogs spend a good part of their day alone and looking for ways to occupy their time. They might pass the time by pulling the stuffing from your couch, snacking in the trash, or chewing on some shoes. To keep destruction and boredom to a minimum, leave some activities for your pet before you leave the house. A food puzzle is a good option. It’s a toy that is actually a sturdy container, usually made of hard rubber or plastic with small openings, that will hold food or healthy treats such as VIAND harvest heart treats made without No eggs! No rice! No oil! Made with sweet potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, parsley, alfalfa and apples, it’s like Thanksgiving dinner without the turkeyNo eggs! No rice! No oil! Made with sweet potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, parsley, alfalfa and apples, it’s like Thanksgiving dinner without the turkeyegg, rice or oil. Each treat is made instead with sweet potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, parsley, alfalfa and apples. Or try No eggs! No rice! No oil! Made with sweet potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, parsley, alfalfa and apples, it’s like Thanksgiving dinner without the turkey grain & gluten free sweet potato treats made with sweet potatoes that are high in dietary fiber and rich in anti-oxidants, and protein but low in fat. This all natural dog treat is also grain & gluten free, made using roasted sweet potatoes combined with soothing aromatic herbs. The treats can be placed inside the toy and will require your pet to figure out how to get to the treat. There are usually holes on each end or on the sides of the toy, and by shaking, rolling, or gnawing the toy he can get the food to fall out. These kinds of pet toys require time, patience and problem-solving—all skills that are good for your dog and will occupy his time alone. Since our dogs’ wild ancestors spent so much of their time scavenging for food, food puzzle toys will offer a solution to pet-dog boredom. Puzzle toys will also encourage chewing and licking, (on the toy rather than your furniture), which can have a calming effect on dogs.
Even if you are home during the day with your beloved dog, there are times when he just will not get out from under foot. You may have homework to supervise, company on the way, or maybe you just need a nap of your own. Whatever your situation, one thing is clear: sometimes he drives you crazy and you need a distraction for that sweet, mischievous, and much too clever dog of yours. Once again, a puzzle toy, which, true to its name, will confound that rascal for a bit of time and give you a minute to catch your breath.
The best puzzle toys are simple and efficient, and will reward the tenacious pup. A simple do-it-yourself version that is easy to make, and will keep your dog interested, is right in your kitchen pantry. Take a muffin tin and place a treat like VIAND pumpkin treats in every other cup. Cover every cup with a tennis ball, and let your dog find the treats!
An even better treat for your dog is a raw bone. Bones have been a necessity to the canine species’ well being for thousands of years. They help clean teeth, distract from negative behavior and the marrow provides much-needed nutrients. A raw bone will also divert his attention away from any destructive behaviors and promote a new, positive chewing habit. Chewing is a natural instinct for dogs. Nurture it with a quality raw bone from your butcher rather than a plastic substitute which has no nutritional value. Your dog will love the raw bone’s taste and the mental stimulation of getting the nutritious marrow out of the bone itself. As an added benefit, all that chewing is a wonderful workout for your dog’s jaw muscles. Choose a bone in accordance with the size of your pet. A new raw bone fresh from the butcher can be a little messy so in the beginning, place the bone outside on a deck or porch for your dog to enjoy. He will likely clean out most of the marrow in an hour or so. At that point, you can let him bring the clean bone indoors for further enjoyment.
You are the one your pet depends on to provide all that he needs in life, such as food, water, affection, toys, walks, petting and playtime. Try having your dog work for them occasionally. The work will exercise his brain and as a bonus, help him become more obedient. If your dog wants to go on a walk, ask him to sit before you clip on his leash. If he is ready for dinner, have him sit-stay while you put down the bowl. Your dog will happily learn to work for everything he loves in life, while staying healthy and happy both mentally and physically.