Kyjen Hide-A-Squirrel Puzzle Toy

Kyjen Hide-A-Squirrel Puzzle Toy

I love the idea of puzzle toys for dogs.  Dog toys that exercise the brain and give the dog a challenge to work through can be beneficial in many ways:

  • Help dogs learn to focus on a task for extended periods
  • Teach targeting to specific objects
  • Provide interactive playtime for dog and owner
  • Occupy a dog for a while when you are busy
  • Build self confidence for succeeding in a task

I’m sure others can add to this list.  One of the first puzzle toys I can remember was the Buster Cube… remember that one?  It was a hard plastic cube with an adjustable hole that dispensed treats when the dog moved it, dropped it, rolled it.  I think we still have it here, somewhere. My dog Seamus loved it.  It was a noisy toy, unless used outside on the grass on in a carpeted room.  But of course, Seamus loved to carry it into the kitchen and drop it on the hard wood floor to make it bounce and release more treats.  It drove me crazy after a while!

Lately, some interesting puzzle toys have hit the market and we are hoping to try out a few of them.  Our first puzzle toy is the Kyjen Hide-A-Squirrel, which is a plush toy “tree trunk” with holes and three little squeakered squirrels (that look more like chipmunks to me) that you can “hide” in the trunk.  The dog is supposed to figure out how to get the squirrels out of the holes. Read more

2 Dogs, 2 Toys, no conclusions

New Plush Lobster

When we first picked up Cassie, her human mom gave us a stuffed duck that had been spending time in the pen with Cassie, her dog mom and her siblings. The explanation was that it held a familiar safe smell. This was her “woobie” for months helping ease her away from a doggie centric life to life with us. She was notorious for tearing up stuffed toys in no time flat – but that duck stayed intact for months.

Three years and countless toys later we wanted to see if we could prolong the life of her stuffed toys by doing something similar. I picked up 2 identical stuffed toys. At first glance they look like seals, but then you notice they have claws. The tag says “plush lobster”. Really? White lobsters with cute noses and whiskers?? Anyway we marked one “lobster” with a small X on the tag and placed it in our clothes hamper for 24 hours. The other was pristine. I then presented both toys to the girls who started to have a ball.

Still looking good after 1 week of hard play

Squeaker and some stuffing removed

Side by side - I can't tell the difference

Usually a cheap stuffed toy lasts no more than 24 hours before having its squeaker removed along with most of its stuffing. 72 hours and it resembles a rag. My hypothesis for this experiment was that clean lobster would meet this fate while smelly lobster would be granted a pardon. 24 hours came and went and the toys held up. Maybe a day later both squeakers were removed with a modest amount of stuffing, but both on the same pace. Now a week has passed and as you can see both toys are, while filthy (don’t buy white toys), still looking good.

So – what did we learn? Absolutely nothing. Take a look at the side by side comparison – both look the same – but have held up fairly well. My only lessons learned: don’t buy white toys, and mad scientists have made seal/lobster hybrids.

PawTracks TireBiter by Mammoth Pet Products

Durability Rating: [Rating:1/5]

PawTracks TireBiter

Important note: We have gotten a lot of comments of dogs becoming sick after playing with this toy!  For more information, see our followup post and comments from other readers.

The PawTracks TireBiter, from Mammoth Pet Products, has been in the dog toy basket since Cassie was a puppy. It’s basically an 8″ mini rubber reinforced tire with lots of nubbys like an actual car tire. It’s very durable, and is one of the oldest toys in the bin.  So from a durability standpoint only, it’s a great choice.  I’m sure there are dogs that absolutely love this toy.  As you can see from the photo, it’s got quite a few teeth marks in it, but it’s in great shape even after 3 years.

Our dogs, however, rarely choose this toy to play with or chew.  They are willing to play with it if I select it and roll it around for them, but they don’t pick it out on their own.  Plus, they’ll switch to another toy if they have the opportunity.

I think the problem with this toy is the rubber smell. It is, after all, a real tire, and has that strong oily petroleum odor that doesn’t go away.  The toy smells like a gas station.  If I think this toy has a strong odor, I can only imagine how a dog’s sensitive nose reacts to it. They just don’t like it!

The TireBiter is also a heavy toy, making it a less than ideal interactive toy to play with in the house… it tends to land hard and bounce when thrown or rolled, so we need to be careful where we toss this toy for the dogs.  It’s a much better outside toy, but because of the nubby texture, it gets filthy from being in the yard, and then I don’t even want to pick it up!

Finally, in researching this toy, I looked at other people’s reviews on this product and saw quite a few people complain that their dogs were sick after chewing this toy, so please do your research before buying.

I’d love to hear if other people have tried this toy and have had a more positive experience with it.  It’s a great idea for a toy, but just not that appealing in our home.

Important note: We have gotten a lot of comments of dogs becoming sick after playing with this toy!  For more information, see our followup post and comments from other readers.

Elk and Deer Antler Dog Chews

My sister told us about trying deer antlers for chew toys, so we’ve been experimenting with them at our house since November. Our first try was a 5″ section of antler. At about $10, we decided to buy one and see if they liked it. Of course, we immediately learned that sharing a chewie was not going to bring peace to our household, as both dogs really liked the chew and spent a lot of energy trying to steal it away from each other. 

Tuffy’s Mega Creature Octopus and Mega Ring

We have two AWESOME tough toys to review this week.  The Tuffy’s Mega Creature Large Octopus Dog Toy, Tiger Print and the Tuffy’s Mega Ring Dog Toy were Cassie and Moxie’s birthday gifts this past November. They’ve had tons of play now for about two months and both toys are showing no signs of wear.  We are so happy with these toys and the dogs love them!