Your dog needs to be mentally stimulated,” claim the makers of the Buster Cube, so they produced a product that purports to do just that. The result is a blue, hollow, hard plastic cube with rounded corners, designed to resemble a large die, even down to the spots on each of its six sides. The one-spot is actually a hole that you can pour kibble into, so that it fills the interior of the double-walled cube. When the dog pushes the Cube around, bits of food fall out of the hole. The theory is that problem behavior can diminish or even disappear entirely if a dog is given mentally stimulating tasks.
Let's get one thing straight: A dog's gotta chew what a dog's gotta chew. Dogs chew to exercise their jaws, to clean their teeth and gums, and to relieve boredom. It's a completely instinctive and healthful activity. Once upon a time, dogs chewed happily on bones that were left over from our meals. However, this age-old practice has slowly changed as humans have come to rely (largely) on processed foods. Today, few home kitchens provide a steady supply of bones to the household dog. As our eating habits changed, so have our perceptions of food safety.
Dogs can never have enough toys, and here at Whole Dog Journal we are always on the lookout for creative new toys to help you enjoy your canine companions. Good toys are crucial for several reasons. First and foremost, bored dogs are far more likely to engage in behaviors that – while perfectly natural and reasonable activities for a dog with time on his paws – are not the sort of things that will please you. Things like barking at anything that moves outside the windows of the house, attempting to dig out the source of a trail of ants in the kitchen, or chewing on the table legs.
I still have the very first Kong I bought 20 years ago for my Australian Kelpie, Keli. The indestructible black toy looks like it could have been purchased yesterday, despite 14 years of intensely hard use by typically obsessive herding dogs. Pre-dating the popular sport of Kong-stuffing by more than a decade, Keli was dedicated to chasing the four-inch, hollow, beehive-shaped rubber object as it bounced and boomeranged erratically across the asphalt at the shelter where we worked. Dang, it was almost as much fun as herding sheep!
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