Updated: Dec 8, 2019
When Christmas rolls around it’s easy enough to figure out what the kids want because they’ll have been telling you every five minutes for the past month or two. If you’ve been paying attention then there’s a very good chance you’ll have an idea what your partner would quite like, given the number of not-so-subtle hints that they’ve been dropping in your direction whenever you’ve been out shopping. The latest football kit? A nice necklace to go with that bracelet you bought them for their birthday? You know the sort of thing we’re talking about.
It’s a lot harder to figure out what your dog might want. Yes, you could take them into a pet shop and see what they seem to show an unusual amount of sniffing interest in, but if we’re honest we know that that’s unlikely to narrow down your choices. In fact, it’s entirely possible that you might end up thinking you’ll have to figure out a way to persuade the girl working behind the counter that Rex would really like her to come and live with you from now on. It’s not an easy process, so that’s why we’ve decided to try to make it a little bit easier for you.
Here’s a look at the best presents that your dog would be delighted to be on the receiving end of come Christmas Day. A sensible plan might be to give them one when everyone is opening up their presents so that it keeps them distracted, then another when it’s time to serve dinner and you don’t want them drooling over the Turkey.
They’re not in any particular order, but we’ve tried and tested all of these with our own dogs who absolutely adore them, so you can rest assured that they’ve got our seal of approval!
Trixie Activity Game, Turn Around level 2
The very best games and toys for pooches are ones that engage their brains and ask them to figure something out. After all, some brain-training can be just as tiring as a long walk in the woods, even if it’s not a substitute for it.
The Trixie Activity Game sees three pots on a stand that will turn when they’re pawed. Any dog will soon get bored of that, of course, so you’ll need to put some treats in the tubes that will then fall out when your furry friend knocks them. Mix up some high level treats like chicken bits with standard kibble and it will keep them engaged for even longer.
LICKIMAT Buddy Treat Mat
Sometimes you’re not going to be as bothered by engaging your dogs brain as much as you are just keeping them busy for a bit. That’s where the LICKIMAT comes in, offering a rubber mat that has an uneven, ridged surface that you can spread food over and they’ll spend their time licking to get it all up.
Once again, keeping things interesting is the best way forward and you can do that by alternating what you spread onto the mat. Pick something such as dog friendly peanut butter or natural yoghurt covering different parts of the mat with different things. Not only will your pooch be intrigued by the smell but once they start noticing the different tastes, you’ll have them hooked.
KONG - Extreme Dog Toy
If you haven’t discovered Kong toys yet then now is the perfect time to do a bit of digging and pick one up. They are, in essence, hollow chambers that are made out of rubber. The Extreme variation is especially designed to keep tough chewers active, promising a toy that will keep them going for hours. You can put their dinner inside it or even fill it with some other sort of treat, such as the Kong paste.
If you want to really give your dog a challenge then try putting a mixture of kibble, wet food and dog-friendly peanut butter inside the Kong before sticking it in the freezer for a couple of hours. They’ll love the challenge of trying to eat their way through the frozen stuff, enjoying the taste as they go. This is especially good for puppies, owing to the fact that the frozen material will be soothing on their gums as they start teething.
KONG Cross Knots Monkey
The reason that Kong toys are so popular with most dog owners is that they’re especially designed to be tougher than your average toy. The perfect example of that is the Cross Knots Monkey, which is soft and yet durable on the outside but the fur of the ‘monkey’ covers a knotted rope on the inside. That appeals to a dog’s natural instinct to chew.
If your dog is anything like ours then they might well have a penchant for ripping toys apart. IF they do that with this cheeky monkey then you won’t need to worry about picking up loads of fluff from all around the kitchen thanks to the fact that it contains a minimal amount of stuffing. There’s also a squeaker, just in case the knotted rope alone isn’t enough to grab your dog’s attention.
Bojafa Dog Toys Balls
These balls are made of rubber and have ridges with teeth running from the top to the bottom all the way around. The beauty of that is that you can stick foodstuff into the ridges and it’s tricky for dogs to get out immediately. That makes them something of a long-lasting toy that you can keep on replenishing with your own treats time after time.
Obviously the key here is to make things as interesting as possible, so we’d once again recommend mixing up standard things like your dog’s kibble with higher value treats such as chicken or ham. It’s made from non-toxic material, so you don’t need to be worried about your doggo playing with it, whilst they also boast a light mint scent to attract your dog to play with it in the first place.
Nina Ottosson Dog Tornado Treat Puzzle
As we mentioned before engaging your dog’s brain is just as important for them as physical exercise. A dog that is bored is more likely to cause trouble by chewing, biting and barking than one that is knackered. The most obvious way of tiring dogs out is to take them for a long walk, but you can also exhaust them by giving them something mentally challenging to do with their time and that’s where the Nina Ottosson Dog Tornado Treat Puzzle comes in.
Shaped like a bone, each ‘end’ of the bone has a small cavity in which you can put treats. The ‘bone’ is split over numerous levels, meaning that you doggy will need to push it around with their nose or paw in order to ‘open’ it up and find the treat. Once they’ve got the hang of it they’ll spend ages twisting and pushing the plastic bone around in order to get at the goodies inside. Make sure one or two of the cavities has something like dog-friendly peanut butter in that it will take them a while to eat.
KONG Shells Turtle
Back to Kong and another of their ingenious inventions. It shouldn’t really work as well as it does and looks quite amusing when you first see it, but dogs absolutely love it. It is a small green turtle that is fluffy and soft, but it is covered by a plastic ‘shell’ that has pimples and dots all over. The different textures of the toy drive dogs wild with excitement, so it’s definitely one that you should have on your list.
There is, as with most good / irritating dog toys, a squeaker on the inside that will keep most dogs amused for ages. It’s not all about the fun though. Whilst your pupsters play with this toy they’ll unwittingly be getting their teeth and gums cleaned by it, meaning it’s offering you two benefits for the price of one. It’s perhaps not the best toy for particularly violent chewers, but for young pups and moderate chewers it’s an ideal addition to the roster of toys they can play with.
KONG Barnyard Cruncheez Sheep
Shaped like a sheep and covered in soft, gentle fur, the Barnyard Cruncheez Sheep contains a plastic interior that not only gives it its shape but also emits an enticing crunching sound when dogs bite down on it. If you’ve ever dropped a used coke bottle and seen how much fun your doggo has playing with it then you’ll know exactly why this toy is so appealing to them. They simply adore the sound of plastic being crunched and squeezed.
The tinnier bottle is also filled with pellets that allow it to make a rattling sound when they shake it in their mouths. This is another thing that dogs love to experience, so they’ll spend at least some of their time being confused about whether they want to shake it or bite down on it. They’ll end up doing both, of course, which will keep them occupied for a good while. As long as you’re not trying to watch a film and doze off after dinner, you’ll be delighted by your choice with this one.
Smart Pet Love Snuggle Puppy
If you’re taking a puppy home for the first time then you’re in for a heart-wrenching first night, especially when they start to miss their mum. Having spent so long in the home with her, they’ll need something to replicate the warmth and love that they got from mum. The love will be coming from you, so allow the Smart Pet Love Snuggle Puppy to take care of the warm part.
It’s essentially akin to hot water bottle for doggies, giving off a gentle amount of heat that will remind them of their mother inside a durable and yet comfortable fluffy exterior. There’s also a heartbeat sound that really gives the impression of it being a living creature, though some dogs might not be so much of a fan of that. The good news is that you can turn that on or off according to your dog’s fancy, so don’t worry if they’re not a fan.
Nina Ottosson Dog Hide n’ Slide
The last toy on our list is another one from the brain of Nina Ottosson. Brain, of course, is the key word there, given that this is another one that engages your pupster’s grey matter. That’s something that Nina is a big advocate of, so it’s no major surprise that she constantly thinks of ways to keep dogs engaging their brains whenever possible.
It’s a little bit like the Dog Tornado Puzzle, offering compartments and hides-holes underneath sliding compartments. You hide treats inside them and your dog has to figure out how to open the compartments in order to enjoy their prize. You can even make the puzzle harder if your four-pawed pal seems to have figured out the sliders too quickly. It’s a mix of wood and plastic and is both non-toxic and won’t splinter, so use it as a chance to bond with your best friend.
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Photo by Joanna Rose Photography