22 February 2012

Playing Mind Games - Dog Activity Toys

Whilst it's relatively easy for us humans to give our brains a workout - a cross word puzzle, learning a new skill or reading a book  - how easy is it for us to give our dogs' brains something to work on?

Nowadays there's a whole host of interactive toys, which are great for providing our dogs with mental stimulation. Although some of the more popular brands can prove to be quite expensive it needn't cost the earth to provide our dogs with games that get them to use their grey matter.

It's quite easy to make homemade interactive games - all you need is imagination and a few props.  One of my favourites is the tennis ball teaser...which involves a muffin tin, tennis balls and treats.  It's really simple to create as the video shows.

Some of my, and the hounds, favourite homemade toys and games include:

  • Tuggies - you can make your own tuggies my plaiting together strips of fleece, for a fraction of the cost of a shop bought toy
  • Stuffed socks - if you've got a toy killer/stuffing shredder and squeaker seeker extraordinaire like Mina, an easy - and cheap - way to fulfil the shredding tendencies is by filling an old clean sock with stuffing (and a squeaker, if you're feeling extravagant) and knotting it.
  • Find the treat or scatter feeding - hide treats around the house (under cushions, and send your dog on a 'find the treat' mission or scatter some of your dog's daily kibble ration in somewhere like the garden
  • Destruction boxes - I could hire out Stevie as a secure shredding service.  He loves shredding magazines, post and newspapers; when given the chance.  A destruction box provides him with a great outlet for this. Just fill an old cardboard box with layers of newspaper, magazines, old toilet roll/kitchen roll cardboard tubes and add a few treats.
With any game or training activity, it's important to set our dogs up for success. In the video you'll see that the first thing I do, is give Mina the chance to eat the treats straight out of the muffin tin. This helps to build Mina's confidence and to get her used to looking for treats in the muffin tin.  Then I can add the tennis balls and, if need be, help Mina understand that she needs to dislodge them to get to the treats.

It's also important to supervise your dog with interactive games to make sure they don't get frustrated and to ensure they remain safe.

I'll definitely be on the look out for some new game ideas at Crufts and would love to know what your favourite games are to play with your dogs...so please don't be shy and do leave a comment on the blog.

Remember, every comment left on my February 2012 posts gets entered into our Countdown to Crufts giveaway to win* a pair of Crufts tickets.

*Terms & Conditions:
Giveaway is open to UK residents only. Prize consists of one pair of tickets to Crufts for each of the two winners (tickets are valid for the day of the winner's choice).
The winner is responsible for arranging their own transport to and from the NEC.
Closing dates for entries is Tuesday 28 February 2012
Winners will be notified by email and/;or via my blog posts


  1. We have just got a little puppy called who is 15 weeks old, we have been stuffing his Kong for simulation and bought him a treat ball but never thought about using things in the home. I think these ideas are great and I'm certainly going to give them a go! Thank you.

  2. Thanks Emma. I'm glad you like the game ideas :0)

    You might also find that when your puppy starts teething that damping a clean tea towel, knotting it and then freezing it will give your puppy something to chew on and help soothe his sore gums!

  3. That is a good idea, you obviously have a huge stash of tennis balls :-) I have always made toys out of my old socks for any new puppies. Sometimes knotting them together or stuffing one inside the other so that they are slightly different. It also helps to lessen the damage as they get older and start 'killing' them and hurling them around the room.

  4. Hi Emma

    I'm pleased to say you've won a pair of tickets to Crufts - congratulations!

    If you can email me your address, I'll send you the tickets. Email me at: canineconvert[at]gmail[dot]com

  5. My Border Collie Pup likes to get the lid off the large Innocent Apple juice bottles to find juicy treats inside and of course bat the bottle around afterwards.


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