14 Stimulating Pet Toys To Keep Their Minds Active


In addition to keeping your pets physically active, it’s important to keep their minds engaged. It has been shown to provide opportunities to pets for mental stimulation: reduce stress-related behavior and make a positive contribution to mental health.

One of the best and easiest ways to encourage your furry friends to exercise their brains is with cognitively appealing pet toys. The importance of toys goes beyond your animal’s mental health – it can also help address instinctual desires and behavioral issues. “Toys can tap into the specific skills a dog was bred to have, fulfill an innate urge, and avoid destructive behaviors,” explains Britney Croteau, CPDT-KA, the owner and head coach at AllBreeds K9 Training Center based in Pelham, New Hampshire.

Not all toys will stimulate your pet in the same way and that means that each type of toy benefits them in a slightly different way. “Interactive toys/games such as pulling, fetching a ball, or a flirt pole (all with rules and structure),” notes Croteau, “can help develop relationships with people and other dogs.” On the other hand, “puzzle toys and toys that dispense food develop problem-solving skills.” So toys in the latter category are better suited to keep your pet’s mind sharp.

There are many problem-solving and cognition-oriented pet toys out there, and they’re all a little different. Croteau even has a relatively simple method of making your own toy that lets you dispense candies: Take a thirty-centimeter 2-3 inch PVC pipe with caps on each end (but only glue one end!) to the pipe. As long as the holes are big enough for kibble to fall through, you can add some kibble, put the second cap back on and let your dog run its course!

Whether you decide to make your own toys or not, you’ll probably want to invest in a few other options as well. After all, the more toys you have, the greater the benefit! We’ve rounded up some of our favorite mentally stimulating toys for both dogs and cats below, many of which will also provide exercise.

Also see: Diggs Revol Dog Crate Review, Dyson Pet Hair Vacuums and a Tamagotchi Pix Review.


STIMULATE DOG TOYS

Brick Puzzle Game

Brick Puzzle Game

To access the treats contained in this intermediate/advanced toy, your dog must remove the white bones, then open and slide the red boxes. Since there are 20 different compartments for treats, you can challenge your pet with a new puzzle combination every time! It’s lightweight and versatile, but you have to keep an eye on them when they use it because the pieces are small.

IQ Treat Dispenser Ball

IQ Treat Dispenser Ball

Turn treatment time into a problem-solving game with a range of mental and physical activities. In order for their favorite snacks to go inside, they have to get creative by rolling, pushing, chasing and otherwise maneuvering the ball. Because the difficulty is adjustable, you can keep challenging your pups as they get smarter.

Advanced Interactive Puzzle

Advanced Interactive Puzzle

If your dog can outsmart all the basic and intermediate toys, then it’s time for a challenge with some more advanced problem solving! This puzzle requires your dog to complete three consecutive steps to access the treats inside: spin the flippers, scoot the blocks, and spin the center wheel.

KONG Classic Toys

Kong Classic Toys

Popular with dogs of all breeds and sizes, the classic KONG toy is a favorite for a reason. It’s an equal parts chew toy, a fetch toy (mainly because it bounces around in all sorts of unpredictable patterns), and a candy-dispensing toy. It can be filled with special KONG treat paste or other tasty food to reward your dog for the hard work. With six different sizes available, it is perfect for all dogs.

Wobble Wag Giggle Ball

Wobble Wag Giggle Ball

All you need is a quick nudge on the nose, and the fun begins: the ball will roll and wiggle as the noisemaker tube inside emits giggling sounds to pique your dog’s curiosity. The ball itself has four clutch pockets so your dog can easily grab it and play with it. Best of all, no batteries are required!

Bob-a-lot Treat Dispenser

Bob-a-lot Treat Dispenser

Unlike many other food-dispensing toys, this one is large enough to fit an entire meal in the room. As such, it’s the perfect solution for dogs that shred their food in seconds. The non-slip weighted bottom results in an unpredictable wobble that not only slows them down but also challenges their minds while eating.

Tennis Maze Craze

Tennis Maze Craze

After the mental challenge of figuring out how to free the trapped tennis ball through the tunnels, you can engage your dog in a physical game of fetch! It is the best of both worlds and can be used as both an indoor and outdoor toy.


STIMULATE CAT TOYS

Butterfly cat tracks

Butterfly cat tracks

This three-level tower will keep your cat quite busy. There’s a spinning, rolling ball to hunt on each level, as well as two bouncy butterflies to jump on top. Not only does this toy occupy your cat’s mind, but it also keeps your cat quite physically active even when you can’t be there to play. It’s great for solo or team play!

Bolt Laser Pointer

Bolt Laser Pointer

Just about every cat is obsessed with laser pointers, but this hands-free laser pointer toy takes the fun and mental challenge to the next level. In addition to a manual mode, it can also be set to an automatic mode, where it shines the laser in random patterns to keep your pet constantly guessing. In addition, the timer function ensures that it switches off after 15 minutes.

Cat wall furniture set

Cat wall furniture set

This handmade set transforms your space into a climbing and playing area, giving your cat a variety of options for mental and physical stimulation. It comes with flat steps, round sisal steps, a floating cat bridge, a cat hammock and shelves and perches in a variety of styles, including hexagonal and raised bowl designs, with a total of six cushions.

Ball Hunting Box

Ball Hunting Box

Chasing balls provides great play and mental engagement for cats, which is exactly what these toys are designed for. The handmade wooden box bottom features a grid of 5 by 5 circular openings so the cats can try to catch the colorful balls as they roll across the bottom of the box.

Buggin' Out puzzle

Buggin’ Out puzzle

Whether you want a fun way to give your cat a treat or a clever way to slow down hyper eating, this adorable puzzle will make cats work a little harder for their food. With both spinning leaves and sliding pegs, the difficulty can be easily adjusted to suit their skill level, while still engaging their natural hunting and foraging instincts. The 14 compartments can hold a quarter cup of food in total.

Rotating Butterfly Teaser

Rotating Butterfly Teaser

Watch your cat dance as they chase the butterflies on this 360-degree rotating toy. The fun can go on well into the night as the butterflies glow even in the dark. All it takes is a single push of a button to launch it, and the base is sturdy enough to withstand knocks and attacks. It comes with two replacement butterfly heads (for when the cat gets a little too rough) and a one-year warranty.

Bentopal robot toys

Bentopal robot toys

With two independently running motors, this automatic robot toy moves in an irregular pattern, challenging active cats to keep up and follow. You can let it play with your cat all day long as it is programmed to turn off for 10 minutes every 1.5 hours and has a built-in sensor to detect obstacles and prevent it from getting stuck. You can attach various accessories to it, including feathers, plush chicks and flying birds.

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