Montessori for pups?
March 3, 2011 1:18 PM   Subscribe

Petafilter! Toys for the dog brainiac, but preferably not food-related. Treat-toys are fine, but whole-meal toys not so much. Suggestions?

I will be bringing home the new dorglums very soon, and as he's a breed that loves to think and wants a "job", I want to have occupational toys on hand for when I need to leave him alone for a couple of hours. This has been asked before, but I'm a special snowflake. I know about the freezing a kong, and about some of the other food-dispensing toys, but those won't work as well in my situation. For one, I intend on feeding the little fella raw, and with one feeding a day it would be too easy to overfeed the little guy with a toy stuffed with kibble.

Secondly, I'm crate training, so toys that require a lot of rolling around are fine as suggestions, but it would be great to see some toys that use less space. Perhaps something that tastes good, but doesn't dispense a lot of food? He'll be fed in his crate, so I know ripping apart half a chicken will be entertaining for a while, but I'd love to find some non-edible/light edible playthings that will keep him having fun as well.

Examples: I'm planning on getting this. I know it's a cat toy, but I once watched a puppy happily chase that little ball around for a good 40 minutes. What toys do you use to keep your smart little pups thinking?
posted by thatbrunette to Pets & Animals (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Kongs are gross, we ended up going with flavored Nylabones instead. Our little guy will sit and chew on one for as long as you let him. The benefit here is that he gets the flavor of chicken (or bacon), without actually eating anything.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:24 PM on March 3, 2011

My dog enjoys escaping from her crate as a hobby. It'd quite amazing what she can do without thumbs. If your dog proves to be less of a pain in the ass and stays in the crate I think sturdy chew toys are the best option. Every dog has its preferences but you can't really go wrong with those cow hoofs, imho.
posted by fshgrl at 1:28 PM on March 3, 2011

Best answer: My dog absolutely LOVES LOVES LOVES! his Egg Babies. So far he has the shark and the dinosaur and he is constantly carrying one or the other around. Whenever I get home he will run and get one and come running to me with an expression that says: "Hey Bango check this out! Its the coolest thing EVER!"

The toys are well constructed plush toys that have a small elasticized slit in the belly that holds three plush, squeaky "eggs." The fun for the dog is rooting around inside and pulling the eggs out one by one. Often once the eggs are out he will bring me the toy and the eggs so I can reassemble it for him. He gets all the joy of disemboweling a stuffed animal, I get none of the drifts of fiberfill to clean up - its win/win.

The same company makes several other similar small-plush-toys-inside-a-larger-plush-toy but so far we have only tried the Egg Babies.
posted by Bango Skank at 1:51 PM on March 3, 2011 [3 favorites]

Many of the "Montessori-like" toys for canines require a bit of human interaction. The tried and true kong method will work with BARF, just grind up/mix up some of his rations for the day and stuff them in the kong and freeze them.

They don't need to be thinking 24/7 to be happy (I live with a dozen dogs that need jobs). The key to keeping a pup happy when they are home alone is to tire their little butts out properly before you leave them. Using the aforementioned puzzles with them along with physical exercise appropriate for his age and size will insure that he is happy to rest while you are gone.
posted by labwench at 1:53 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have 2 terriers and don't like to crate them to get too bored and then get over excited when we get home. Keeping terriers busy is a full time job so I am forever trying to find games to keep them occupied. Our dogs like nylabones too. Also the old stand by of cow hoofs, which you can get at the pet store. I have one dog that loves them with no worries and another that can get tummy upsets if he chews off too bigger pieces, so maybe watch for that at first.

Depending on what Raw diet you are following you can freeze food into blocks of ice, my dogs love to sit and lick at the ice until it melts to get to the treat. A great idea in summer in the backyard

I like to use kongs, but put solid treats in like pupperoni or cheese or even ground meat if you wanted they wash out easily, you can thread them through or jam a couple in there so it takes them ages to get them out.

I'd be careful leaving a puppy alone with a cat toy as they are not usually designed to be as strong as dog toys, as cats don't seem to chew their things as often.

Martha Stewart line of dog toys have a a little set of chicks in a chicken coop. You put the stuffed toys in and the dogs have to try and figure out how to pull them out the openings to play with them. Our dogs love it, the openings are a good size to put other toys in like small balls. Rotate your dog toys only have part of the stash out at anyone time. Give them a "new" toy every time you go out from the hidden stash, like kids it becomes more fun if they haven't played with it in a while.

Best thing if they are going to be gone for a while is a nice big walk before you go and then they'll sleep a lot of the time and not be so bored.
posted by wwax at 2:11 PM on March 3, 2011

We buy my super smart Aussie frozen (raw) bones every couple of weeks. When he is home during the day, he gets a frozen bone every other day, i.e. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. He adores them, it takes forever for him to eat one, he has many self created games of burying them and digging them up, and as there is really nothing on them like meat or fat, they aren't fattening. Also, they keep his teeth beautifully white.

Of course you are going to want to clicker train, as smart dogs are very engaged by learning tricks.

Also recommend tug toys, particularly the very tough ones, for fetch games. Obviously this requires you as an engine of fun.

If you can swing it, I'd also recommend a trustworthy dog walker to come by on days when your pup is on his own for long stretches. There is nothing like exercise for any doggy. If you can't do it, I'd try hard to get yourself into run walking the dog in AMS to encourage snoozing as wwax says.
posted by bearwife at 3:49 PM on March 3, 2011

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