6 Enrichment Toys for Dogs
Is your dog anxious, bored or destructive? If so, they may be looking for a way to express natural behaviors. If your pup’s behaviors aren’t channeled in an appropriate way sometimes that can lead to chewed up shoes, unintended carpet renovation or even turning you into their human popsicle (excessive licking can be a symptom of anxiety!) As pet parents we have the responsibility to make sure our pets get fulfillment, because we choose their environment and social calendar for them each and every day. Here are 6 enrichment toys that may help to fill in some of those gaps throughout the day to keep them happy and also (fingers crossed!) keep some of their more destructive behaviors at bay.
Boredom Buster™ Snuffle Mat
It’s time for a little Hide and “Sniff” with the first enrichment toy on the list: a Snuffle Mat. Snuffle mats, like this one from Boredom Buster™ are a great way to engage your pup’s natural foraging instincts and also reward them with some tasty dog treats. Simply take treats or dog food and stuff them in the different flaps, pockets and all the other nooks and crannies available on the mat. Then let your pup sniff out the goods! Snuffle mats come in various sizes and colors and can provide a lot of entertainment and mental stimulation for all breeds and sizes. The mat has an anti-slip bottom and is machine washable!
If it’s a nice day and you have access to a safe outdoor space, take the Hide and “Sniff” concept outside for a little backyard scavenger hunt. Break up your pup’s favorite treats and scatter them around your backyard. You can even put them in a path so they lead to a fun new toy at the end!
Frisco Hide and Seek Plush Volcano Dog Puzzle Toy
How many dinosaurs can you fit into a volcano? (I bet that’s the first time you’ve ever been asked that question.) According to Frisco’s Hide and Seek Plush Volcano you can fit 6 ferociously fuzzy dinos into one volcano. Each dinosaur comes equipped with a squeaker inside which will make it even more fun for your furry hero to “save” them from the lava! As a dog mom to Brody (a.k.a. “killer of all squeaky toys”), I also appreciate the fact that Frisco has a refill pack available for purchase in case your dog plays a little rough with a couple of the dinos.
Also, the variety of hide & seek plush is pretty amazing! If dinos aren’t your thing, try the adorable racoons, chips & guacamole or the Zoomies & Chill recliner for smaller dogs (Spoiler: your pup has to find change and a remote from inside the recliner! Too cute, right?)
West Paw Zogoflex Toppl Tough Treat Dispensing Dog Chew Toy
Work your dog’s mind and your dog’s appetite with the West Paw Zogoflex Toppl Treat Dispensing toy. Made in Montana from recyclable, BPA- and phthalate-free and non-toxic materials, this toy traps treats with it’s inner ridges and wobbles back and forth to keep your pup busy. The exclusive Zogoflex material is tough, stretchy, bouncy and also easy on your pup’s mouth. The toy works for breeds of all sizes and can be interlocked with a second Toppl toy to take it to the next level. Plus, it’s dishwasher safe!
A reviewer on Chewy.com says, “We have 4 Toppls. I put wet canned food inside the Toppl and freeze it, then give it to my pup for a frozen treat before bed!” This sounds like a great option to help your dog stay cool this summer and enjoy their favorite moist tub or K95 recipe as a frozen treat!
Nina Ottosson Dog Brick
Flip… lift… slide… and treat! In this level 2 Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Dog Brick intermediate puzzle your dog will lift flaps, remove bones by pawing and nuzzling and then slide blocks to reveal tasty treats. Mentally stimulating and entertaining, this toy helps reduce your dog’s anxious behavior and can redirect destructive behavior.
These puzzles are available in different styles and come in varying degrees of difficulty. It ranges from level 1 for beginners and goes all the way up to 4 for the doggy experts! If your dog has not yet been introduced to puzzle games before, it might be a good idea to start at the beginning with the Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Dog Smart Level 1 interactive puzzle toy!
Nina Ottosson Wobble Bowl Interactive Treat Puzzle
Wobble ‘til you gobble! Add a little extra fun and challenge to meal time with this Nina Ottosson Wobble Bowl Interactive Treat Puzzle. It can be used with treats or with your pup’s favorite kibble to help slow down meal time and prevent stomach upset and bloat.
The bowl holds one cup of kibble and is added through a small (maybe a little too small for easy pouring), removable lid at the top. Once full, your pup has to paw and move the bowl in order to release the kibble or treats from one of the 6 holes along the sides. The bottom is skid resistant and shouldn’t scratch or scuff floors during dinner or playtime.
The Lickimat SlowMo is developed by vets and is great for puppies and dogs of all breeds and sizes, especially pups who like to lick. So why do dogs lick? According to the AKC, licking can be a sign of affection, food-seeking behavior, or even a sign of anxiety, boredom, or fear if it becomes excessive. The LickiMat Slowmo allows your pup ample licking time as they clean their plate. Fill the slots with different options like kibble, treats, wet food, peanut butter, pumpkin, yogurt, blueberries, and more! You can get pretty creative with meals or snack time.
This mat has textured surfaces to help with dental health by scraping food particles and bacteria off your pet’s tongue. Also, for flat-nosed dogs like French Bulldogs, this makes for a great slow feeding alternative option to the more traditional slow feeders with the bumps and mazes. Finally, this eco-friendly mat is also freezer, microwave and dishwasher friendly which makes prep and clean up a breeze!
If you are on a budget or just prefer to do things yourself, be sure to check out this article from ASPCA on Canine DIY Enrichment for more alternative DIY options.
Remember it’s always important to supervise your dog during play or mealtime when introducing a new toy or product into their routine! Just because the toy is supposed to work a certain way, doesn’t always mean your dog will follow those guidelines. We all know those pups who think outside the “box” or just go straight to chewing up and eating that “box”! These enrichment toys are meant to be used in combination with enrichment activities that you can do with your dog on a daily basis. No toy can take the place of quality time with you, but when used together can hopefully create a happy & stimulating environment for your pup!