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Inexpensive, hands-off puppy boredom cures?

asked 2015-08-24 21:50:58 -0500

I have a 6 month old puppy who seems bored, even with lots of exercise (walks, hikes) and playtime with us ("fetch," tug, chase, etc). We're told she's part German shepherd (she has the look, too) and is very smart. Can anyone recommend games or puppy puzzles to help with mental stimulation. It would be REALLY great if they were homemade or super cheap, since I can't afford the fancy ones you buy for $20-$50! So far I've tried putting a treat under a frisbee so she has to find a way to flip the frisbee, but she's really good at it already. The other idea I've used with great success is rotating her toys, which helps for a time.

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Get him a playpal/another dog. They play with each other and not you. Playpal another dog/gerbil whatever. Another body helps.

Barbara L.'s profile imageBarbara L. ( 2015-12-04 16:05:43 -0500 )edit

My dog has a lot of allergies and to keep him distracted from lickin and itching we get him raw bones to chew on as well as got him dog puzzles. Make sure the bones are a good size to keep him occupied and UNCOOKED. The puzzles I got on amazon they have plastic and wooden.

Lauren W.'s profile imageLauren W. ( 2017-02-23 16:06:18 -0500 )edit

KONG brand toys have tons of different play toys for dogs! They're durable rubber, and can have treats inserted to keep the dog's interest. The toys are more than just a few dollars, but they are durable enough to last.

Sarah K.'s profile imageSarah K. ( 2017-04-24 01:26:36 -0500 )edit

12 Answers

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answered 2015-12-03 10:45:00 -0500

I take a Kong, stuff it with peanut butter & freeze it. This keeps him busy for a while. Also if you go to your local butcher, grab a knuckle bone or marrow bone still raw/frozen. This keeps my GSD busy for hours and he loves it. If you do get a marrow bone, take it away after a few hours and refreeze it for later, as the high fat can cause a tummy ache if they digest too much at once.

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answered 2015-08-24 22:18:07 -0500

Here's the list of interactive feeders (my techy term) I give out to clients. I'm a big proponent of stimulation! Have you done any clicker training with her? Amaze-A-Ball Treat Ball, Buster Cube, Busy Buddy Barnacle, Busy Buddy Groove Thing, Busy Buddy Squirrel Dude, Busy Buddy Twist ‘n Treat, Busy Buddy Waggle, Canine Genius Leo, Havaball, Kong, Molecuball, Petstages Orka Jack, Tricky Treat Ball, Zanies Peek-A-Treat

*Remember that not all toys are suitable for all dogs. Until you know the toy is safe, you’ve got to make sure she doesn’t destroy and ingest something she shouldn’t. Supervision is vital!

I recommend feeding all her meals either as treats for training, or through one of the above feeders. Nothing comes out of a bowl!

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answered 2015-08-24 22:30:09 -0500

You can buy the 5" IQ Treat ball at most pet stores for less than $10 which is worth its price since its extremely resistant, it is also very safe which is very important with any dogs, but specially for puppies.

This toy comes with different levels of difficulty that are controlled with a separator included. The 5" should be the right size to ensure it is big enough to fit in your dogs mouth and be safe (the 3" can be a choking hazard)

Whenever not in use if possible try putting it out of reach to make it more interesting when you give it to her.

I had my IQ ball for a few years, I recommend to use it to feed your dog specially if he eats fast. If his food has different sizes/shapes it will just up his difficulty; as long as they fit though the opening, this is good but you want him to get to know the toy first so you might have to get a small bag of a different food first.

Good luck and hope this toy works for you.

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answered 2018-02-15 14:32:59 -0500

My idea probably doesn't help with mental stimulation too much, sorry, but it is inexpensive, and entertained my dog. :) Also, I'm not sure if it would be technically advisable?, or if it would be something that would interest your pup, but when my doggo was young he would destroy any toy we gave him within minutes, and loved to tear things apart. So, I channeled this into small-stick chewing outside, and inside I'd give him empty boxes to tear apart, which he would also chase across the smooth floor. Empty butter cartons, egg cartons, cereal boxes, and things like that. He'd tear them up, and then I'd throw away the pieces after. He seemed to know that he was only allowed to do this when it was specifically given to him, though, and he isn't destructive, so for us it worked out well. Hope this helps! :) Ooh! For mentally stimulating, perhaps finding hidden treats. I place my dog in a sit-stay, hide some treats, usually also being a little tricky by bending down but not placing something there, etc (I'm also showing him how many I'm hiding first, so he'll know when he finds them all), and then come back and release him and say 'Go find your treats!'. It's something that exercises both mind and body & I don't have to be one-on-one with him for the whole time, like if I'm working. Best of luck! :)

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answered 2015-12-03 14:08:51 -0500

I have an active Australian Shepherd puppy and frozen Kong toys are my favorite! I do exactly what Michelle mentioned - freeze peanut butter. It's quick, easy, and dogs go crazy for the things! Another method is to feed part of his meal in them by getting his dog food wet, stuffing it in the Kong, topping the opening of the Kong with peanut butter or pumpkin puree or yogurt, and freezing it. If you buy multiple Kongs you can have several lined up in your freezer for your puppy to enjoy when you need a break! :)

The Kongs can be a bit of an investment up front (especially if you buy several) but I highly recommend it! You can also look up all kinds of fun recipes for them to keep your pup interested. I have found many good ones on Pinterest.

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answered 2015-08-25 02:15:11 -0500

I also have a collection of treat-dispensing toys and rotate them out for my dogs to give them some stimulation when I leave the house. I always keep an eye on www.doggyloot.com for trying out new toys at a discount. They often have good deals on commercially made products, and if you get a stash of a few different puzzle toys you can rotate them frequently to keep the game interesting for your pup.

For cheap homemade options, you can cut a slit in a tennis ball or racquetball so that he has to chew on it to create an opening that releases treats. The size of the slit and treats can vary the difficulty. Durability is an issue with these, though, so depending on how much your dog chews, it may not be cost effective in the long run vs a couple $10-15 sturdy commercial toys.

You can also teach him a hide and seek game with his toys or treats, and then when you want to keep him occupied for a while you can put him in his crate or another room and hide a bunch of his toys or treats around the house, then release him to find them.

If you want to get really creative, there are people who have designed fetch-bots that you can build at home - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9UOc...

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answered 2017-02-23 15:51:38 -0500

Try out strenuous exercise with your puppy to tire him or her out- this catches them before they get bored! Since puppies are kind of energizer bunnies, I would suggest buying a puzzle toy from a pet store- some have little slots where you can put kibble or healthy treats, and the puppy has to open the right slot or work it out of the area. This works their brains and takes all of their focus. A simpler version of this is to try a bouncy kong toy, put a couple pieces of kibble inside it, and then plug the kong with some (regular fat) peanut butter. If you freeze it, it can take a lot of time and effort for very few calories to the puppy. Good luck!

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answered 2017-02-23 15:47:53 -0500

What works best for my dog are puzzle toys ( he loves the rolling ball that ejects food and treats), bully sticks and other bones (chewing tires out dogs), and having puppy play dates.

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answered 2018-01-24 11:32:42 -0500

Make a "fishing pole" with a 3 foot stick and some rope and tie a small towel or rag on the end. Tires them out ! This is not hands-off but is inexpensive and effective ! Learned this from germanshepherdman.com

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answered 2015-08-26 09:28:47 -0500

Two words. Laser Pointer.

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Comments

Ooh. Sadly, I wouldn't recommend this one. Can create very sad, somewhat debilitating, obsessive compulsive behavior in dogs.

Leighann H.'s profile imageLeighann H. ( 2015-08-26 13:31:36 -0500 )edit

Agreed. It won't be problematic for all dogs, but for a select few it can be disastrous. Probably best not to risk it. The frustration of never being able to 'catch' the light can really get to some dogs. https://paws4udogs.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/the-dangers-of-playing-with-laser-lights/

Laura R.'s profile imageLaura R. ( 2015-08-26 16:42:10 -0500 )edit

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