To kick off the summer, and prepare for our loads of indoor time while the desert heats up, my dog Dart and I recently grew our collection of fun toys! Though I love my local pet store, we found some really awesome new dog supplies online this time. To ward off any summer boredom, we are now prepared to train, exercise, and play together for hours of doggy fun! Here are the highlights of our latest haul.
1. Nina Ottosson Dog Brick puzzle by Outward Hound
We LOVE this puzzle toy! It’s more of an intermediate puzzle, not quite for beginners, but Dart does pretty well with it. He loves to dig for treats or his favorite foods in here. He needs to lift or push the little white bones out of the way, flip the red containers open, and then slide the little red containers to reveal all of his hidden kibble with each step in the sequence. Super smart dogs might be a little quicker than Dart to learn how to move all the bones out of the way, so for now he still needs me to supervise and assist before he gets too frustrated. We try to keep games at the just-right-challenge for Dart, meaning that we aim for that sweet spot where toys aren’t so easy that he gets bored, and equally aren’t so hard that he gives up. This determined doxie nose did pop one of the red plastic doors off of the puzzle one time, but I got it right back together with no issues.
2. FITPAWS Dog Balancing Disc in size small
Try as he might, Dart is too long with too stubby of legs to get all 4 paws on his balance disc at once, oops! I guess when we’re ready to build up his gym equipment collection we’ll buy the large disc too. This balancing disc is exactly what we were looking for to help Dart build up his strength and stability while also keeping him at a healthy weight. Essentially, I use treats to lure Dart into standing and balancing with either both front legs or both back legs on the disc. Cleary, he also experiments with putting as few paws on as possible while trying to earn a treat, lol. On the flip side, there are a bunch of little bumpies that I also have him stand on to increase the sensory input going from his back feet and into his neurological system. Apparently lots of dogs aren’t really aware of where their back feet are (who knew?!) so exercises like this can help them develop a sense of where/what those back paws are doing. Finally, the toughest trick we do with the balancing disc is to keep the front feet on it while Dart sidesteps his booty in a circle around the disc. Whew, that was a tough one to learn! It took us a few days to feel confident rotating in one direction, and of course, learning to twirl the other direction was a completely new skill too (dogs don’t generalize super well). I just love that his little hips and core and shoulders are getting so much stronger! It’s kind of silly, but I was so excited to see that he can balance better than ever and lift that back leg a little higher when he goes outside to pee on the rosemary bush. Oh, the things dog moms will get excited about…
3. Lollipop Target in blue from Karen Pryor Clicker Training
Yes, Dart now kind of trains just like the dolphins at the dolphin show. Rather than leaning over to lure my dachshund around with treats (oww, my back…) he’s now learning to follow his lollipop target stick around, perfect! Dart tends to be scared of training clicker noises, so for a few years now I’ve been marking his training successes with an excited “yes!” and he knows that is the exact word that means he’s earned a treat. So, we’ve simply set him up to reach and touch the lollipop target with his nose, I respond with a quick “yes!” and he earns a treat. With practice, he’s becoming more confident and learning that following this stick around and touching it with his nose is rewarding. Soon I’ll be able to guide him around tricks or exercises with his target stick, yay! That surely beats leaning down and luring him with a treat in my hand. Though I’ve also been known to just spray cheese on the lollipop end and really cheat at getting Dart to pay attention to it…
So that’s our summer in a nutshell. Lots of leisure time to work on mental stimulation, strength, balance, stretching, and just plain fun for Dart. Hopefully 🤞 his chiropractor will be really proud to see how strong and healthy the little guy is staying. What are your favorite summer toys or activities for your pet?
As always, the thoughts in my posts are all my own, or kind of Dart’s too. We bought all these toys ourselves, and we’re not involved in promoting or profiting from them in any way.
Happy adventuring everyone ❤