If your furry friends have been good this year, and you plan to hang their stockings, consider asking Santa for toys that do more than simply entertain. As animal behaviorists learn more about the way our pets’ brains are wired, many of these experts are citing boredom as a reason for some of their unwanted behaviors. Most of us work throughout the day, leaving our pets to their own devices. It should come as no surprise when they amuse themselves by eating our socks, scratching our furniture, or nuisance barking.
When it comes to toys that teach, pet parents have a lot of choices. Food puzzles for both dogs and cats encourage pets to think and interact with a toy that dispenses food. If your pet is not particularly motivated by treats, consider a toy that encourages them to chase or play. A remote control mouse on a timer is irresistible to most cats, as it stimulates their natural instincts to hunt. A set of small squeak toys stuffed inside a larger toy will require a dog with a strong prey drive to “work” in order to get to the prize. And the viral video of the dachshund repeatedly loading tennis balls into an automated, pint-sized pitcher put The iFetch on every dog’s wish list. Whatever you put under the tree this year, remember - the toys that teach are the gifts that keep on giving.