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Interactive dog toys - perfect dog toys for all dogs, great and small, but especially for thinking dogs.

Updated on February 2, 2015

Treat your dog to an interactive dog toy - you won't believe how much fun they can be!

I'm a basset hound lover from way back in the day; bassets are quite beautiful and lovable, but they're not what you'd call "Einsteins." Bassets were bred to think through their nose; that's why they're so good at field tracking and not so good at, well, simple commands like 'come'.... But, if you have a smart dog, like an Australian Shepherd, German Shepherd, or Border Collie, you're living in a different world!

Dogs like shepherds and collies were bred to use their brains along with, of course, their natural instincts. Training if vital to having a happy dog and a happy owner (and nice furniture....) so interactive dog toys will become very interesting to you. Intelligent dog toys are sometimes games, like puzzles, or can even be feeding bowls like I use for Killian, my Australian Shepherd you see in that picture above. Since he came into my life, I've become a must more intelligent dog owner (I simply had to to keep ahead of him) and, if I do say so myself, a pretty darned good dog trainer. I also have come to understand how a dog's brain works - something that I'd never had to figure out with those old bassets.

So, this article was written as I started to look into a new group of toys to keep Killian challenged. I've found some pretty amazing stuff out there on the market that is fun for both you and your dog. So, grab your checkbook, a cup of coffee, and come along to see what I've found. I'll also include some stories about my own pets, whom I cherish beyond belief. In fact, as I type this article, I'm in Tucson, Arizona with my littlest dog, Gizmo, for a month.

Photo credit - all photos on this article are my own. My pack has dwindled to just 3 dogs now (I lost 2 last year but it was ok - they were both around 15 years old) so you'll be introduced to Killian, Rita (my mixed breed from St. Croix), and wee Gizmo (some sort of terrier mix). Of course, you'll also meet our pug, Matee (she's my very significant boyfriend's dog). And, then there's Wilbur, my friend Sharyn's dog who lives with us too. We're just one big happy pack.

Click the link in the text to the left to see this bowl on
Click the link in the text to the left to see this bowl on

Interactive dog toys come in the style of dog bowls too

You can click this link to see the Go-Slow Dog Bowl shown there at the right.

Killian and Gizmo are gulpers when it comes to food. This just isn't good for many reasons including bloat which is a disease that affects larger dogs. Bloat happens when food is ingested too quickly which can cause an overflow of gas and fluid in the stomach. The stomach can then literally twist, causing a very horrible, very painful condition. If bloat is not caught immediately, death ensues. Long dogs, such as bassets, are prone to bloat, in fact, I lost my first basset, Wrinkles, to this horrible condition.

Go-slow dog bowls are designed to slow down the fastest eater as he or she has to pick their way around the obstructions in the bowl. Using these bowls has slowed down Killian by at least half, making mealtime, oh, about 2 minutes. Regardless, I don't worry about bloat any longer when pouring his kibble in his go-slow dog bowl.

Interactive dog toys are a great way to slow down a gulping feeder. You can feed an entire dinner to a dog in one of these rolling balls! Or, if you prefer, one of the go-slow feeders can help significantly also. Both Killian and Gizmo have their own go-slow feeders.

A Thinking Dog's Dog Bowl

A Thinking Dog's Dog Bowl

I bought this Aikiou interactive dog bowl for Killian to give him a little game to play each time I give him dinner. I really like that this bowl has slowed down his eating, and I like to watch him figure out which little container holds food.

After a short learning curve, Killian now understands how to open each 'toe' to get at the food and to spin the round part to get to the dog food inside. The only thing I can say that might be a negative is that this thing is BIG. I have a big kitchen with plenty of storage but, if you don't, you might want to rethink this one.

I also like to smear a little peanut butter in a few of the openings to give him a little treat during the day. It's fun to watch this very smart dog interact with this dog bowl.

The story of my rescue dog, Killian

I've been a fan of rescuing dogs, I think, probably from birth. My heart goes out to the homeless dogs, the ones who really need me. I've had blind, deaf, one-eyed, 3-legged - you name it. I'm a sucker for a dog who is down on his or her luck. So, enter Killian (nee 'Jack')....

Killian came into my life 10 years ago when a vet who knew I did rescue contacted me with "Jack's" sad story. It seems like this 11 month old Australian Shepherd was taken by his owner to the vet to be destroyed at as she reported that he was "aggressive." The vet simply couldn't put him down (thank you!), and talked the woman into signing over ownership to him. He knew of me and my rescue work and, as luck would have it, I had just placed my latest rescue into his forever home the night before. So, I went to the vet's office that day to see how bad this beast was.

As I arrived at the vet's office, I saw a very frightened, very large, very beautiful Aussie in a crate. He was barking, crying, and moaning. His mouth was all full of foam - this was a dog who was clearly in distress. I will admit that my first though was 'no way.' But, my heart took over.

I sat on the floor across the room, trusting the vet's information that the dog wasn't so much aggressive as untrained. I was nervous as the technician opened the crate door and, in what I can only call a flash, this dog was in my lap, crying, trying to curl up in a ball, licking my face. Well, that was that. He came home with me that very day. So, my crew had increased from 2 dogs (Barley and 3-legged Hops) to Barley, Hops and, yes, Killian (my parents own a bar.....).

Scroll down further to read more of this story. It's gets pretty interesting.

Note: In the picture above, that's Barley, my basset-wanna-be and Killian at my cabin in West Virginia.

Hide a Squirrel pet toys make me laugh!

My dogs just go nuts (pun fully intended) when I pull this hide-a-squirrel pet toy from the toy box. Rita, my rescue from St. Croix, is particularly interested in it. I have a feeling that Rita may have had puppies before I got her as she loves to carry her 'babies' around the house. There's usually one of these squirrels squirreled (couldn't help it) away under a sofa cushion or behind a chair when she hides stuff.

Outward Hound Hide A Squirrel Plush Dog Toy Puzzle, Small
Outward Hound Hide A Squirrel Plush Dog Toy Puzzle, Small
These toys are perfect for any dog but, if your dog loves to pull the stuffing from toys, make sure you're around to rescue these cute little squirrels.

Our motley crew - circa 2011

From left to right, that's Matee (the pug), Barley, Killian, Rita (the blond girl in the back), 3-legged Hops and wee Gizmo in front.

Hops died just 91 days after my Mom died. Barley died on the 1st anniversary of her death. They were both around 15 years old so, just like my Mom, they had nice long lives. All three are definitely missed though.

More to Killian's tale

Ok, so here I come home with this untrained, potentially destructive Australian Shepherd, and I'm totally untrained in working with a smart dog! WTH am I doing?? Well, the first thing I did was give him a bath as his overnight at the vet gave this dog with a nervous stomach some side effects - ew. I then put him on a leash for our first walk - rather, my first drag. He was totally out of control! I came back to the house and immediately started educating myself about how to educate him.

My plan was to give him some very basic training and adopt him out - after all, I had two dogs of my own (and a cat) and I was in the business of rescue and adoption - not rescue and keep! In fact, Barley was my very first rescue dog (I kept him as no one seemed to be interested in adopting this beautiful dog) and Killian was my 19th rescue dog. I'd managed to adopt out 18 between them so Killian was next in line.

I did find a nice young man who had a 1 year old yellow lab who was interested in Killian. It was love at first sight, and I believe I had a few tears in my eyes as I let Killian go to his new home. I just felt like I might be the best home for this dog, but, if I kept him, I couldn't continue to foster other dogs. So, off he went.

There's more to the story. Keep a scrollin'!

A Great Interactive Dog Game

Company of Animals Nina Ottosson Dog Brick Interactive Game
Company of Animals Nina Ottosson Dog Brick Interactive Game
This is another interactive dog treat game. I like that this dog brick interactive game comes in different sizes to hold the treats as Killian would just laugh at 3 pieces of kibble as his reward! The Nina Ottosson Dog Brick Interactive Game comes in different sizes so you can match the size to the dog. Watch the video below to see a dog and this toy in action.

The Dog Brick Interactive Dog Toy In Action

Interactive dog treat balls

This interactive dog treat ball dispenses kibble as the ball is rolled around the floor. Beware though - if you have steps in your house, your dog might quickly learn that he or she can drop the ball from the first step and just follow the treats down as the ball bounces and dispenses them. My dogs figured this out way ahead of me. I couldn't understand what the thud, thud, thud was until I traced the sound and found all 5 searching around the steps.

Fill these with any kind of small dog treats that will fall from the holes. Make sure though that the dog treat pieces aren't too big for the holes as there's no sense having a frustrated dog. You can even serve a dog's full dinner in one of these dog treat balls - just refill it each time it is empty.

dog toy
dog toy

He's baaaack....

Three days after I adopted Killian out, here he comes right back! The young man was very apologetic when he called to ask me if I'd take Killian back. It seemed that these two young, energetic dogs were too much for him to handle. Of course, I took him back! I'd been missing him like I hadn't missed my other foster dogs. I knew that he was my boy from there on out. And, by my side is where he will remain.

As a nice note: the man who sent Killian back went onto train his Labrador Retriever and became a foster dog volunteer himself. To date, he's fostered and placed more than 30 dogs. So, see, things work out the way they're supposed to.

Anyway, once I had Killian back and the decision was made that he would remain in his forever home forever this time, I enrolled in dog training classes which started the next day. In hindsight, I wish I'd known about positive reinforcement dog training for Killian as he responds much better to this training method (called 'clicker training') than to that prong collar the teacher made me put on him. But, I was learning right alongside him so I did as she told me. I now know better.

After 8 weeks, Killian graduated with honors from basic obedience. I had a magnificent dog beside me. He was eager to please me and, in fact, he was so intelligent that I had to learn how to control my body language or he would go ahead of me and do what he thought I was signaling him to do! Amazing dog. Who knew that one of my soulmates would come in a brown and white package?

In the 10 years we've been together, Killian has become very accomplished in agility and canine freestyle - aka dog dancing. He is my pride and joy.

Here's an article I did about working with a high energy breed:

I never trust anyone that doesn't love animals. I'm a believer that animals soften our souls just a bit. I'm also a believer that animals come into and out of our lives when they're supposed to. Makes having to lose one much easier to think this way.

So, how about some comments from the peanut gallery? Did you love/hate/not give a hoot about this Squidoo article? Let me have it!


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