Wednesday, 13 May 2015

6 Boredom Busters to Keep You Dog Busy

From the moment I get home from work Maizy wants attention. Now I am more than happy to give it to her, of course, but she expects playtime from the moment I walk in the door until I go to bed. That's 5 hours of the dog equivalent of this:

Maizy gets LOTS of attention and exercise, of course - she certainly is not hard done by in the that area. Her incessant need to interact with me is one of the things I love best about her, and one of the reasons I picked a "velcro" breed. Springers love nothing more than to be with their people.

However, sometimes I do want to be able to sit down and have a cup of tea without Maizy hovering over my shoulder.

"Hi. Sorry to pop in on you like this. I know we just came back from a
walk and you're relaxing but... we should go for a walk." - Maizy, always.

So without further ado, here are my favourite distractions or "boredom busters" for dogs:

PetSafe Busy Buddy Tug-A-Jug Meal Dispensing Dog Toy
Price: 16.99 from

Description: "The Busy Buddy Tug-A-Jug provides a multi-sensory appeal to keep dogs interested and motivated to play. It stimulates your dog’s sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste, making the Tug-A-Jug the ultimate solution for interactive play. He can see and smell the treats and hear them rattle. Dogs are positively rewarded when treats or kibble dispense from the jug's opening."

Why We Love It:
  • Keeps their interest. Maizy's kibble and a few stinky treats in the Tug-A-Jug will keep her busy for about 30 minutes. 
  • Durable. We've had this toy for almost a year and although the plastic bottle has some scratches, it's in otherwise perfect shape.
  • Brain game: Dogs have to think to get the treats out. Difficulty can be increased by using large kibble, and vice versa. 
  • Plastic bottle is quite noisy on hard surfaces

Puppy Maizy demonstrates how to use a Tug-A-Jug

This and That Split Antlers
Price: 11 to 23 dollars, dependent on size

Description: These all natural antler chews contribute to your dogs health more than you think! They're a high source of protein, calcium, glucosamine and chondroitin to give your canine that extra boost he needs. They're also perfect for pups with sensitive stomachs or allergies. 

Why We Love It:  
  • Mess free, scent free, stain free
  • Healthy, natural
  • Last forever
  • Maizy loses interest in the antler after a few days of chewing
  • Pretty expensive

Bones! Plain old bones.
Price: 4 to 10 dollars, size dependent

Description: It's a bone. Marrow bones, hock bones, kneecaps... Bones! We like the "Barnsdale Farms" brand.

Why We Love It: 
  • Inexpensive
  • Always a hit
  • Keeps teeth clean (No seriously,  I get so many compliments on Maizy's teeth)
  • Sometimes re-useable: I fill old marrow bones that Maizy has cleaned with peanut butter
  • Natural
  • Larger bones will last a few days
  • Can be stinky and greasy
  • Chance of bone splintering so choose your bones carefully
  • We go through A LOT of bones
  • You will stub your toe when your dog leaves a bone in the middle of the room. Ask me how I know.

Price: 6 to 10 dollars, available at Walmart

Description: Rawhiders is the original 2-in-1 treat & toy combo for dogs that features a delicious rawhide treat molded into several fun and tasty shapes. But there's a lot more fun when the treat is done because hidden underneath that tasty treat is a durable nylon chew bone that soothes dogs and helps clean their teeth. 

  • Maizy really likes them, but won't eat other types of rawhide
  • Keeps her busy for 45 mins to 1 hour
  • No smell, no mess
  • Maizy has never played with the "toy" after the rawhide part is done.
Maizy attacking a RawHider

Eurocan Bullwrinkles
Price: 3.50 to 9.99, depending on size

Description: We know there's nothing like these real dried bull and steer pizzle sticks, that's why dog owners never run out! These chews are so much more than a great taste and crunchy texture. They're low in fat for dogs that are watching their figure, have dental benefits for dogs who like to smile, and they're highly digestible for dogs that love to run!

Why We Love It:
  • Maizy goes nuts over them! 
  • XLs last her an hour or two and she will chew them consistently for that whole time
  • Natural and healthy - More digestible than rawhider
  • Did I mention Maizy loves them?
  • Stain free, clean and I can't smell them
Okay, for Maizy and I there are no cons but...
  • It's bull penis and that freaks some people out. Maizy and I couldn't care less and it makes for some great jokes.
  • Some people say they stink. I have a messed up nose (thanks concussions!) so I can't smell them.

Kong Toys
Price: In the 8 to 25 dollar range, depending on the size

Description: "When you're away, simply stuff the hollow interior with treats or paste. Extracting the contents becomes a "hunt" that keeps any pooch happy and busy all workday long. Chewing Kong's helps promote strong jaws, clean teeth, and general oral health. Even aggressive "power chewers" will find it hard to bite through carbon-formula Ultra Flex, and dogs with separation anxiety or problem behaviors like barking and digging will especially benefit from the mental and physical stimulation."

Why We Love It:

  • Kongs come in a variety of shapes, sizes and difficulties
  • Very durable
  • Fill it with whatever: Treats, Peanut Butter, Yogurt
  • Freeze it for an extra long lasting treat
  • Maizy doesn't like the Kong Filling or treats, and prefers just regular treats or peanut butter. This is actually kind of a bonus because it's cheaper, but we have Kong fillings and treats simply wasting away
  • Hard to clean any left over filling out.

Why I don't like homemade / DIY toys
Okay, getting on my soapbox for a moment... You might be thinking, "Some of these things are kind of pricey. I saw a homemade toy graphic on Pinterest, I can just do that." And you can do that, but I don't recommend it. I see lots of people making toys out of things like old shirts, old socks, plastic bottles and other household items. And why not? It's cheap right? Well let me tell you, getting a sock removed from your dogs bowel is NOT cheap. Homemade dog toys are not always the safest - the materials are not meant to be chewed up by Fluffy. Additionally, it's hard for your dog to differentiate between "the sock toy" and your actual socks.

That being said, Maizy does get to play with cardboard boxes that we have lying around. This has led to Maizy stealing every box she sees. There are usually one or two stolen boxes somewhere in the yard! 

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