I often feel a bit guilty when I leave for work, and put Milly in her backyard. Sure, she has her own room she can walk in-and-out of as she pleases, plenty of fresh water and lots of stimulating toys, but I still have a certain pang of guilt, and can’t help but wish I could take her to work with me.
Finding stimulating toys was easy enough—now-a-days they have plenty of mentally challenging options in the dog toy department, one of my favorites is a plush box with holes on each side, the box is filled with squeaky balls and the dog must figure out how to get each squeaky toy out of the holes. Milly’s timing with this toy has progressed and she is now able to get all four balls out in about 30 minutes. Note: I would not recommend this toy if you are not 100% sure about your dog’s playing activities, as all toys pose some choking hazard. Squeaky toys should never be given to dogs that rip the toys, as the squeaker itself could get lodged in the esophagus if the toy was to tear. Balls should also never be given unless supervised—or if you know exactly how your dog plays, as these also have potential choking risks.
So, with only 30 minutes of Milly’s day taken up with the mentally stimulating toy, I like to give her a treat to snack on when I leave each morning, but finding a treat that can last, is healthy and safe can be a challenge. I used to give her rawhide chews (you know, the white ones with the knots on each end), but then learned that these can not only upset the dog’s stomach, are high in fat, but also are sometimes treated in formaldehyde! So, how do you know if the treat you are feeding your dog has been treated in formaldehyde? Well, you don’t, but a good rule of thumb to follow is only buying made in the USA treats. I could write an entire blog post about the problems with rawhide chews, but that is for another time. There are also pig ears, but those pose the same digestive risks of rawhide, and I have seen more than one dog, on more than one occasion, get horrible diarrhea and/or vomiting from pig ears. They are also very high in fat.
So, to find the right treat—something that will both take some time and is healthy—the saga continues! I am a big supporter of the Kong—there are lots of alternatives to the Kong paste for good filler. I like to add some mashed up banana, a little non-fat organic plain yogurt or some organic peanut butter to Milly’s… sometimes I’ll put some small dog biscuits inside to challenge her, and in a quick pinch I will use the Kong paste (I personally prefer peanut butter paste, because the Liver paste smells rancid and Milly is not a fan of the mint variety). Note: If you are a multiple dog owner always purchase Kongs sized for your largest dog. Also, make sure to get the suitable strength Kong for your dog’s chew style.
There are many mentally stimulating toys on the market if you’d like me to provide you with links to examples please let me know.