Environmental enrichment, species-specific behaviors.
Big words from big zoos, but do you need to worry about this for your dog? Absolutely not! Our canine family members are not captive wild animals. Our pets spend their lives by our sides. As members of the family, their needs and desires are much the same as ours. Interactive games and puzzles can strengthen the family bond and lead to fewer behavioral problems. They can even improve obedience training results! Isn’t that a good thing?
Self-control studies once conducted on humans are now being designed for dogs, too. The results are not surprising for those of us with family pets — dogs can learn self-control just like humans can. The focus developed for solving puzzles can carry over into less playful, but more important things like obedience training and behavioral modification (stop chewing up that couch!).
We could all use a little mental stimulation and work to get our meals like animals in the zoo. The truth is dogs stand to gain more through interaction with their human family members, than through being left alone with a treat puzzle like a captive specimen. The benefits of such interaction extend well beyond the initial mental stimulation and boredom relief. Taken as a whole, when the dog and his human family regularly interact by playing challenging games, the family develops a sense of common purpose and shared experiences. For most dogs, these memories and experiences form a long-lasting bond with fewer behavioral problems during non-play time.
An entire line of Dog Games Puzzle Toys keeps it fresh
We believe this bonding time is so important to the family dynamic and mental health of pets that we’ve created an entire line Dog Games Puzzle Toys to keep boredom and repetition at bay — and the benefits keep rolling in! We encourage everyone with pets to stock a closet full of games and puzzles in order to supply a fresh and ready stock of challenges to facilitate this crucial bonding time.
Paraphrasing renown dog trainer, Clarissa von Reinhardt, there are three important benefits to treat training puzzles that include human interaction. They pay off in less obvious ways, such as when you’re walking your dog or traveling. Take a look at these benefits from a dog’s perspective:
- 1) “When my human calls me in an animated voice, he’s found an exciting puzzle! This is way more fun than chasing cars or squirrels!”
- 2) “Challenging puzzles are only found when a human is around — this means my human is the leader. I should stick with him!”
- 3) ”My human helps me understand the puzzle — this deepens our bond and makes me love our time together.”
Even zoos have evolved their own enrichment programs to include solving puzzles, involving interaction of zoo keepers and trainers with the animals! This helps the trainers earn the animal’s trust, as they make valuable visual observations regarding its health. 
“An experimental study of the effects of play upon the dog–human relationship” by Nicola J Rooney, John W.S Bradshaw in Applied Animal Behaviour Science (3 Jan 2002, volume 75 issue 2 Pages 161-176)
Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney, p49 (Sep 2011)
 Clarissa von Reinhardt, one of the foremost reward-based instructor/trainers in Europe. From her book “Chase!” Paraphrased and adapted from her “Sausage Tree” treat puzzle section, pp 41-44.
“Zoo Animal Enrichment” by Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute( http://nationalzoo.si.edu/SCBI/AnimalEnrichment/)