Pet behaviorists say that 10 minutes of mental stimulation is the equivalent of 45 minutes of active play. Fortunately, there are a slew of new puzzles and electronic games offering different levels of difficulty and different challenges to keep dogs engaged and promote their wellbeing.
And, of course, if you participate too, you are spending quality time together and enhancing that wonderful human-animal bond. Let’s play!
Buster Activity Mat
The Buster Activity Mat consists of a heavy fabric mat that has 35 press-on snaps and three starter activities that can be clipped in different places. The mat is designed for pet parents to interact with their dogs and teach them how to solve the various activities and puzzles by sniffing out and retrieving hidden toys or treats. More clip-on tasks with three levels of difficulty can be purchased separately to keep dogs actively engaged and help to prevent boredom.
Nina Ottosson Dog Casino Treat Game
This treat-dispensing game challenges dogs to recognize the bone-shaped pieces and unlock the treats inside. Dogs must learn the sequential steps to access the treat drawers. This game is designed for dogs that have already played more entry-level puzzle games. While it’s recommended for more challenging play, it can be used with dogs of all play levels.
This puzzle game will keep your dog on the chase as the treat ball is on a track and builds up speed fueled by your dog’s enthusiasm. It can also be used as a meal dispenser to slow down a dog who swallows without tasting his food.
PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher
Let the games begin! The launcher is designed for indoor and outdoor play and has safety features such as a motion sensor on the front of the unit that prevents the ball from launching if a dog or person is too close. It dispatches balls a distance of eight to 30 feet and has nine distance settings and six angle settings to keep dogs on their toes. The launcher uses standard-size tennis balls. Bonus: dogs can be taught to retrieve the balls and restock the machine themselves. And there’s a sleep mode to ensure forced rest in between frenetic play sessions.
This high-tech “play land” has a pet camera that works in conjunction with an app on a smartphone, allowing pet parents to see how their pets interact. The main unit has a built-in treat dispenser and the option to talk to pets and invite them over for a snack. A built-in laser operated via the app entices pets to play and can be set to initiate games automatically. In addition, the unit can remotely control an interactive teaser toy. Pawbo was originally designed for cats, but it has sparked interest in dogs, too. The manufacturers promise more games to come.
This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.