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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Keep Your Dog Thinking With Ingenious Dog Puzzles

By Anton Hout, author of The Guide to Aussie Training & Care

Dog puzzles are a great way to engage your dog's mind and fight boredom. You may not have ever considered the idea that your dog gets bored. But you've probably seen the proof of it from time to time if you've ever found your favorite slippers chewed up or a roll of toilet paper strewn around the house. That isn't just willful destruction; it's a sign that your dog was looking for something to do.

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Dogs are naturally curious and, in all but a few cases, naturally active. They need to have a continual source of mental stimulation or they will easily become bored. For many breeds that stimulation is achieved by breeding them to perform a certain task. Some breeds are meant to hunt prey, like Foxhounds and Dachshunds, while others, like the Australian Shepherd are meant to tend herds of cattle or flocks of sheep.

When you take away that natural base of activity you end up with a dog with a lot of pent up energy that needs an outlet. Unfortunately, if you don't give him some way to naturally work off that energy, your dog is likely to blow off steam by chewing on whatever he happens to find handy. A great way to avoid frustration on both sides of this equation is by using dog puzzles.

Bored Australian Shepherd on couch with soccer ball.

inkevalentin /

Is your dog getting bored with their toys? Puzzle toys for dogs, especially those that include treats, might be what you need to keep them engaged, thinking, and amused.

AWOOF Snuffle Mat Durable Interactive Puzzle Dog Toy
AWOOF Snuffle Mat - Durable Interactive Puzzle Dog Toy Encourages Natural Foraging Skills.
Interactive Dog Food Puzzle Toy - Treat Dispensing Slow Feeder
West Paw Zogoflex Qwizl Dog Puzzle Treat Toy – Interactive Chew Toy for Dogs – Dispenses Pet Treats – Brightly-Colored Dog Enrichment Toy for Aggressive Chewers, Fetch, Catch, Large 6.5", Tangerine
West Paw Zogoflex Qwizl Interactive Treat Dispensing Dog Puzzle - Treat Chew, 100% Guaranteed Tough, It Floats!, Made in USA, for Strong Chewers.

So what kind of puzzles would dogs want to do? Obviously, we're not talking crosswords or jigsaws. No matter how clever your pup is, that kind of diversion is out of his grasp. But simpler puzzles that are built on the premise of hiding food or treats and making your dog open flaps, look inside compartments or figure out more complex sequences of actions before being rewarded are a perfect way to work off excess energy.

Many Dog Puzzles To Choose From

There are many different kinds of dog puzzles available that you can employ to help your pet get his brain working. All work on the same principle: hiding and seeking a food reward. Dogs have a keen sense of smell and even if they can't see the treat, they'll be able to follow its scent. Then you can sit back and enjoy as you watch them figure out the puzzle so that they can get to the tasty conclusion.

One of the oldest and most popular of these puzzles is the Kong. This is a heavy-duty rubber toy that is hollow. The opening inside can be filled with different kinds of treats and your dog will have to work at it in order to get to the food. Similarly, you can use bobbing dispensers or balls outfitted with adjustable openings that will dispense a certain amount of food depending on how large you set the opening.

More complex dog puzzles may involve a series of flaps or levers that your dog will have to push with a paw or nudge with his nose in order to reach the hidden food. These may be beyond some dogs, but for active and intelligent Aussies they can easily become a favorite activity. Aussies love to work and they love to please their owners so they'll be eager to take on these puzzles and earn your praise along with their edible reward.

If you're looking for a way to avoid the destruction that comes from having a bored dog, why not consider giving your best friend a puzzle to test his wits and stimulate his brain? He'll enjoy figuring out the challenge and you can have fun as you watch him tackle it, so it's a winning solution for everyone involved.

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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

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