Day 16: Toys That Make Your Dog Think

First off I need to come right out and say, I cheated for this photo.  I didn’t take this photo today.  I took it earlier this month.  I came home from work today, and Bailey got sick.  No need to worry.  He’ll be fine.  However, because I know he isn’t feeling all that great, I just don’t feel like making him put up with me putting a camera in his face.  So here we are, Day 16 into my 365 Project, and I’m already cheating.  At least I’m being honest about it :P

I decided to make a post today to go along with what I posted about yesterday.  I talked about Bailey and his agility training, and how agility is a great thing for dogs because it provides them with mental stimulation.  As I said before, dogs need to be mentally stimulated.  However, dog sports aren’t for everyone, and every dog doesn’t have the drive for them.  There are so many other ways to mentally stimulate your dog.  Another favorite of mine and Bailey’s are puzzle toys.

This past Christmas, I purchased two puzzle toys for Bailey made by Nina Ottosson.  These toys are designed to be interactive games that stimulate a dog’s brain while reinforcing his relationship with people.  Most of them aren’t games that you just leave out for your dog to play with on their own.  It is something that Bailey and I do together, and he gets so excited when he sees me take it off the shelf to play.  They have a variety of styles of toys and they range in difficulty levels.  They range from simple feeding balls, where the dog just needs to roll it around to get the food, to puzzles where dogs need to complete multiple steps in order to find and achieve access to the desired treat.  I also love that all of these toys are tested by real dogs when they are designed.

Nina Ottosson Products is my preferred brand of this type of dog toy.  Yes, they can be a little pricey however they are very well made, well designed, and durable.  However there are many other brands who make similar toys to challenge your dog’s mind.  For all the cat owners out there, Nina Ottosson even advertises their toys to be appropriate for cats as well.

Another great thing to note is that Nina Ottosson has monthly giveaways of their toys on their Facebook page. They are normally random drawings from everyone who has liked their page.  For the month of March though, they are having a photo contest of dogs playing with their Nina Ottosson toys in which the above photo is entered.  With the month of March ending, we’ll be seeing soon if Bailey was a winner or not ;)

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10 Comments to “Day 16: Toys That Make Your Dog Think”

  1. Hi there! I am so glad I found your blog, another who shares my love of agility and Nina Ottosson toys! That photo above is just perfect. Bailey looks like a thinker. Good luck in the contest!

  2. Thank you :) They are wonderful products aren’t they? and yes, Bailey is definitely a thinker. It is so fun for me to play them with him because I can see the wheels turning in his head.

  3. wow that is so totaly cool. I never new this kind of toy existed, but it makes perfect sense. When dogs are engaged in work or activities that engage the mind, they are so much happier, and that in turn affects their health in a good way.

    • I just recently discovered them. I had seen simple toys like feeding cubes or balls, where the dogs need to roll it around to dispense the food, however I hadn’t seen the puzzles. I am a big amazon.com buyer and when I was searching for dog toys there, I saw these and I just had to buy them. I’m very happy with them and I think its a wonderful concept. I do agree that dogs that have their mind engaged are happier and healthier.

  4. I subscribe to a number of blogs, but yours I truly look forward to yours. I make my business in the world of design and some days can get really stressful. Juggling clients, meetings and deadlines, etc. But your posts arrive in my in-box around 4 pm my time and there he is, sweet, smart, agile Baily.

    I hope Baily is feeling better and you are a smart mom not asking him to pose for today’s post. It’s perfectly OK to cheat now and again when the reason is justified. You were honest, so I’m certain no one will mind.

    Thank you for showing the dog toys! I had no idea such sophisticated past times for dogs existed. How cool! My guess is the toys stimulate the true nature of a dog and allows them to do what them might do if they were wild. I hope you and Baily win the contest. It’s well deserved.

    • Thank you so much :) I’m glad Bailey can provide you a little bit of stress relief during your day :)

      He’s feeling better I think. His stomach was just a little out of sorts yesterday. He was also a little mopey because his best friend, Gaston, who we were dogsitting for 10 days just went back home, so I think he was missing his friend. He always gets mopey for a couple days when his friends we dogsit or our foster dogs leave.

      I think you are right in the idea that dogs in the wild have to work for their food, so the puzzles encourage that. It’s not quite the same as hunting or scavenging, but it does make them work for it (and therefore think) :)

  5. I’ve never heard of or seen any toys like this. What a great idea! I agree that dogs need stimulation, and there sound like the right thing for that purpose. I love the fact that you and Bailey do the puzzles together. It’s not only about the mental stimulation, but also about the quality time you spend together. I admire the fact that you’re doing agility with him. He’s obviously ideal for this activity, as he’s a clever boy.
    Love the photo, I think you stand a good chance of winning. Fingers crossed! x

    • Exactly, because the games involve someone actually hiding the food inside the puzzle, it’s not a toy that is just left on the ground. Also the second game I have (not pictured) is much easier and he can do it all on his own. He still has a little bit of trouble with the one pictured, so we do it together. He does the parts he can and when he is started to struggle I help him out by pointing to the next block that I want him to slide and then he slides it. It is another game that builds our communication and trust. It is hard for him so he trusts me that if he listens to me and does what I say that I’ll help him get to what he wants. I almost like it better that he can’t quite do this one on his own because of that reason.

  6. Hi!! I’m a huge fan of Nina Ottosson toys, but I never checked out their Facebook page… Unfortunately, I missed the March contest. : ) I actually have a Nina Ottosson shout-out on my blog, The Daily Toki (http://thedailytoki.com/2010/09/29/nina-ottoson-puzzle-time/). Dogs look so cute when they’re trying to figure out the puzzles… By the way, I adore your photos and subject matter. I’m looking forward to reading more on your blog!!

    • Yea, they just announced the winner for the March contest. Bailey didn’t win. I felt a little jipped because I wasn’t all that impressed with the winning photo lol. But yes, they are great toys :) Thank you and I’ll swing over and check out your blog as well :)

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