Toys and treats come in an endless variety of flavours, shapes, sizes, and with equally as many promised benefits, so trying to figure out which are the best is no easy feat.
Largely, choosing the best treats and toys comes down to the individual preferences of your own dog, but there are some that are viewed as having more distinct benefits than others. At Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, we choose to focus on toys that provide ample mental stimulation for the dogs in our care.
Here at Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, we utilise a range of toys and feeders that offer treat-based rewards, such as slow-feeders, Kongs and lick-mats.
Slow-feeders: these are an alternative to the standard food bowl, that aim to slow down the speed at which a dog is able to eat their food through the placement of bumps and ridges within the bowl. These provide something of a mental challenge for a dog, and can be extremely useful for portion control and preventing overeating.
Puzzle-feeders: similar to slow feeders, but require the dog to ‘solve’ the feeder to receive their food or a treat. These come in a huge range of shapes and sizes and may use flaps, levers, or other moveable parts to conceal the food, requiring the dog to use its sense of smell to find and then retrieve their reward from the feeder. It’s recommended to start with a basic puzzle-feeder, as increasing the difficulty too quickly can frustrate the dog and result in them simply destroying the feeder.
KONG: this American-based company has become a household name for dog owners, due to their extremely popular chew toy, the KONG Classic. These come in a wide range of sizes and levels of durability, with options for puppies, senior dogs, and even cats. The KONG can be filled with dog biscuits, natural peanut butter, or many other treats to suit your dog’s preference, and will provide ample mental stimulation as well as treat-based rewards.
The mental stimulation that a dog receives from a KONG or a puzzle-feeder will help to keep their mind active, which we find really benefits any training they may be receiving. It also gives them a project to work on, and helps them to disengage from their environment, which they could be finding stressful.
For treats, we recommend using ‘high-value treats’, or those the dog responds best to, for training only, and even then only sparingly. Also try providing variety in the kinds of treats you offer, as this may add an extra level of excitement to each reward.
Finally, ensure that you are supervising your do any new toys or feeders. Many such items are designed to encourage experimentation, so it’s best to keep a close eye on things on the off chance they may break or chew on something they shouldn’t.
As above, the best toys for your dog will come down to their individual preference, and not all dogs will respond to all toys in the same way. If you’d like to discuss more about toys or for further recommendations, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us by calling 0131 669 5331 or by visiting us at 26 Seafield Road East, Edinburgh.