Most of us will know the importance physical exercise plays in our dogs’ overall wellbeing, but we can often forget about how important it is to also provide mental enrichment on a daily basis.
Mental enrichment improves your dog’s mental state and can alleviate anxiety and stress through putting your dog’s brain to work and encouraging them to ‘problem solve’ their way through a puzzle toy.
For dogs who suffer from anxiety, having them focus on something else often helps minimise anxious behaviours.
There are many different types of puzzle toys on the market, and there’s plenty of DIY options too.
One of our favourites is the LickiMat range, which have various designs that range in complexity to suit your individual dog’s needs. This inexpensive patterned mat is designed to have your dog’s favourite wet treat smeared over the raised pattern, which then encourages them to lick the mat clean. Repetitive licking releases endorphins, which helps sooth and calm dogs.
We especially love the ‘Soother’ mat, which features a brush-tip design and has a massaging effect on your dog’s muzzle when they lick, keeping them even more ‘zen’.
LickiMat’s can be filled with any of your dog’s favourite treats, such as:
- Chicken and Rice
- Peanut Butter
You can purchase your LickiMat from our website: Click Here
100% profits go back to the dogs in our care.
The original Kongs are a robust multi-purpose rubber toy, that gives your pooch the option of licking, chewing or using their Kong for fetch. It also doubles as a food bowl and promotes slower eating, for those pooches who inhale their food!
We use Kongs for our dogs on site, and this helps them relax and keep them entertained throughout the day.
Kongs can be filled with almost anything! Biscuits, wet food (a mix of both), peanut butter and more. You can freeze them for a cool treat in summer, too!
They also have a variety of different types of Kongs – some more complex than others. For example, the Gyro Kong (pictured below) has an orb in the centre and encourages your dog to spin and paw at it to dispense their treats.
Kongs are available in our shop or at City Farmers or Petbarn
DIY ENRICHMENT TOYS
You’ll be surprised at how many items you have around your home, that can be used to entertain your pooches.
One puzzle toy that we love is the Muffin Tin Hide n’ Seek concept.
All you need is a muffin tin, dog treats and tennis balls.
The concept is simple, but provides plenty of fun for your pooch.
The tennis balls cover the treats and encourage your dog to sniff and find their treats.
Empty egg cartons make great puzzle toys, when filled with delicious treats.
Another simple concept, that allows your dog to sniff and use their brain to dispense their treats.
TOILET ROLL TOY
Everyone has toilet rolls hanging around and many of us have dogs that already enjoy frolicking around with an empty toilet roll!
By adding a few of your dog’s favourite treats and folding both ends of the roll inwards, you can create a simple home-made enrichment toy, that will have your dog sniffing and investigating its contents!
Kmart is a great option for cheap puzzle toys, that do the trick.
We’ve noticed that they are regularly changing up their products, which gives your dog a great variety to choose from.
From electronic treat dispensers, to their new IQ Treat range, there’s so many options to choose from – with price tags under $30!
A great weekend project, that requires a little more time and effort is the bottle spin toy.
With only a few pieces of wood, some basic tools and a few empty bottles, this home-made toy is sure to provide loads of fun for your dog.
It’s designed to have treats put into the bottles, which are then dispensed when your dog spins the bottles around.
Check out this DIY tutorial on Youtube: Watch Here!
Earlier this year we did a DIY tutorial on how to make your own snuffle mats. What’s a snuffle mat? We’re glad you asked. A snuffle mat is a mat weaved with soft material such as felt or fleece. It provides lots of hiding spaces for treats and encourages your dog to sniff until their hearts are content.
Check out the tutorial here: Click Here!
*Please remember, some of these toys may require monitoring to make sure your dog doesn’t ingest parts/pieces.
Kongs and LickiMats are the best options for dogs with separation anxiety as they are safer to leave unattended.