Toy review: BusterMat

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20min later… All done!

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Ready for a session of #bustermat 😁

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Mummy this is really hard, can you help?

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Mummy made me a buster mat game 😁

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Mummy made me a buster mat game 😁

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Toy test: snufflestack

It’s taken me a while to post this but better later than never! Another snuffle toy we bought at the Animal Event was this “snufflestack” (my name for it, because it didn’t have one). Basically, it’s a pile of double layered fleece squares with a hole in the middle, stacked up in a fleece rope.

There are lots of ways to use this depending on your dog’s experience and drive – the recommendation is to allow your dog to familiarise themselves with it first by laying it flat on the floor and placing some treats in between.

However, I know my intense hunting drive dogs will just dive straight in to get the food so they don’t need that stage – in the video below you can see Nell starts straight from the tight stack.

This is the second time she is playing with it, and because the first time she pretty much pulled all the squares out of the rope, I decided to tie it quite tightly this time. I should note that Nell has a lot of experience with snuffle toys and is a very nose driven dog which means she quickly figures out toys like these – sometimes too quickly for my liking!

I also tried this with Grace and it was definitely more difficult for her, and thanks to her slightly gentler sniffing style I suspect this toy will have a longer life if she plays with it instead of Nell…

All in all, this is a nice little addition to our toy box!

Toy tip: Starmark Tetraflex as a mealtime toy

Today breakfast was served from Starmark Treat Dispensing Tetraflex – one of my absolute favourite mealtime puzzles.

It’s soft plastic so no noise on hard floors; the size and shape allow dogs to pick it up and most importantly, unlike many other treat balls, it has a little funnel inside the opening which reduces the likelihood of treats falling out which means the game lasts longer than with a simple treat ball.

It’s also relatively durable but I’d supervise heavy chewers as they will be able to shred it.

I’ve had this ball for years and it’s simply one of the best toys we have. Because the design of the ball means it is statistically difficult for the treats to fall out, this toy remains difficult however many times the dog plays with it – you could feed every meal from it.

The added bonus is that by playing with this ball, dogs also improve their proprioception (body awareness) because they learn to handle the ball with their paws and nose.

 

Toy tip: frozen Kong Quests for lowering arousal levels

I often give the dogs a chewing or licking activity after an active walk that has raised their arousal levels, like a beach trip is guaranteed to do.

Nell took 20min to finish her Kong Quest Star Pods and Grace 80mins her Kong Quest Foragers Flower because it contains more food and Grace is younger. These were filled with Ziwipeak canned food, apple chunks, frozen raspberries and some dabs of yoghurt or peanut butter – the fruit fills up space without adding calories and especially the apple chunks are tricky to fish out.

 

Highly recommended if your dog finishes a regular Kong very quickly!

These, and other toys suitable for freezing food are reviewed in this post.

Toy test: MyIntelligentPets Dog Sudoku

I bought the MyIntelligentPets Dog Sudoku a couple of weeks ago at the Animal Event but hadn’t had time to test it yet. Last night the little monkeys were particularly energetic despite a long walk with friends so I thought it was time.

My Dog Sudoku is a part of the Travel Box which also includes another game (yet to be tested!). It consists of plastic tiles the dog needs to move in a certain order to reveal the treats hidden underneath. While I’ve seen videos of dogs playing this game carefully and in a considered manner, I can’t say the same about my two – they both launched into it with all the enthusiasm of a food obsessed spaniel, and pawed their way to the solution as quickly as possible. Luckily the game is pretty sturdy!

I played the game with Nell first and then thought I would try it with Grace to see how a puppy would handle it. Result? She did just as well as her older sister, and seemed to love it just as much. While they both got through the game quickly even this first time, I’m hoping that future repetitions will help them learn a more considered approach and that I can see them actually figuring out how the game works.

All in all, so far this is turning out to be well worth the investment!

Toy test: grid snuffle mat

Today we tried one of the two unusual types of snuffle mats we bought at the Animla Event a couple of weeks ago. Result? It suits Grace very well because her sniffing style is (still) quite gentle but for Nell, who is more experienced it is a little bit too easy so it doesn’t keep her busy very long it took me longer to insert the treats! Her snuffle mat style is also more intense and a bit rough, so I’m worried the fleece strips will stretch too much… So this will be reserved for Grace, and I’d recommend it for newbies or gentle sniffers only 🙂