The idea for this blog started many years ago when I first got interested in canine mental enrichment – in other words, how to give our working cocker spaniel Nell something to do. I needed to find her a job – or lots of little jobs – because when you don’t keep a working dog busy, they become self-employed and it’s usually never a job you want them to do.
Four years ago brain toys were not as popular among dog owners as they are today, so I spent a lot of time (and money!) researching and testing over 50 different types of toys – some were successes, and some… not so much. My day job revolves around understanding human decision making, so observing Nell work out different puzzles is part of my fascination with canine mental enrichment – along with believing that we owe our dogs the best possible life we can give them.
I realised that most (normal) people were not as fascinated with the details of brain toys and as such not as keen to buy toys that might be hit and miss, so I wrote up reviews of toys as we went along, and every once in a while I have shared the document on Facebook groups when people ask about enrichment. You can download the latest version here but I haven’t updated it for a long time.
In March we welcomed a new addition to the family: Grace, who is a Polish Hunting Spaniel. Despite being a different breed, she is just as much of a busy doggy as Nell – both to our delight and horror. Now, I am starting the cycle of keeping a doggy busy again and through the lens of a puppy who has never seen these toys before so I thought it was a good time to start the blog.
The blog will include both insights into life of keeping two active minds busy, and also some of my thoughts on dogs in general. I am not a professional, but I believe in leaning on science as much as possible so where relevant I will reference my sources so you can follow it up for yourself.
Welcome on our journey!
Elina, Original Busy Doggy Nell (Jan, 2012) & Little Sister Grace (Dec, 2018)