Maui has wanted me to do so many reviews about treats but I’m pushing her to do something else this time. Don’t get me wrong, of course dog treats are great fun! It’s fun to just toss your dog a treat or two once in a while just as a special “I love you”. It’s fun to use them as training treats and see how your dog picks up on new cues and commands, and it is fun to put something yummy inside a treat dispensing toy or a Kong to watch your dog enjoy getting them out.
But I was thinking about treats and wondering what else you could do with them. A way for both you and your dog to enjoy the treat giving process but also make it into something even more. Then I remembered seeing some awesome looking interactive strategy dog toys. These toys are an opportunity to give your dog those special treats; enjoy watching them get the treats; and give your dog something to really think about all at the same time.
There are a few different well-known brands of these types of toys but I’d like to focus this post on Nina Ottosson’s line of activity dog toys. Let’s check some of them out!
About Nina Ottosson
Nina Ottosson develops strategy / activity dog toys from her home in Sweden. She first began developing these dog toys in 1990 after she had her two children and was unable to give her dogs the mental and physical stimulation and activity they deserved. Nina believes “the dog has four legs and one head, and all five need activity in different ways-both physical and mental.”
Developing these activity toys was a way to give her dogs mental stimulation while also helping to solidify the bonds between her and her dogs. Nina develops new activity games and first tries them on her own dogs. If all goes well then she moves on to trying them on a variety of different dogs.
Nina designs and develops all the Nina Ottosson trademarked activity dog toys herself.
Why Get Activity Dog Toys?
These types of dog toys stimulate your dog’s mind. Dogs get bored sometimes when they have nothing to do, just like we do. Unfortunately when dogs get bored this can often mean they start exhibiting some behavior issues. Strategy dog toys or activity dog toys as Nina calls them exercise your dog’s mind as well as their body by requiring different levels of mental and physical dexterity. They can help prevent boredom, behavior issues, and strengthen the bond between you and your dog.
What Are They?
Activity dog toys are puzzles that your dog has to figure out in order to get the treats inside. They can be as simple as lifting a cover to reveal a treat underneath or as complicated as needing to make the toy do three different actions in a particular order to get the treats to fall out.
Nina’s activity toys are developed for different ability levels. As she says, it doesn’t matter if you have a Forest Gump or an Albert Einstein because there are different levels of toys for different abilities, interests and intelligence levels.
The Nina Ottosson activity dog toys are split up into Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 challenge groups. Unless your dog is accustomed to figuring out puzzles and strategy toys it might be best to start them out at the easiest toy, being level I and then gradually move up to the more difficult, strategic toys.
- Level 1: great for introducing your dog to training games. Get your dog interested in games and prepares them for more challenging and exciting puzzles to come.
- Level 2: for those who have mastered the level I activity toys and are ready for a little bit more of a challenge. This level offers dogs more interesting ways to problem solve.
- Level 3: more challenging playtime. Some require more strategic thinking and/or dexterity.
Where to Get Them
Initially available only available in Scandinavia, the toys are now distributed and available in several countries around the world. You can find all of Nina’s toys on her website at Nina-Ottosson.com but keep in mind she is located in Europe so shipping is pretty darn expensive. For example I was randomly checking out the Dog Twister toy. The toy cost is USD 21.52 but shipping would cost me 17.60. The total cost for that toy would be just over $39.
It appears like Nina has an agreement with OutwardHound.com to be her U.S. distributor. Looks like you can find all of her toys on their website! Just to give you a comparison, the randomly selected Dog Twister toy is $24.99 on OutwardHound.com with $8.06 for shipping. Shipping is free though if you order $35 or more.
I always look for stuff on Amazon and her toys are available there. That same Dog Twister toy can be found for $18.99 with free prime shipping. Pretty significant difference from her website as well as OutwardHound.com.
Here’s a link to the Dog Twister toy as well as some of her other strategy dog toys on Amazon.com.
I also found some of her toys available on Chewy.com and PetSmart.com. I tried to price compared the Dog Twister on these two sites but at this point in time that particular toy is not available on Chewy.com or PetSmart.com.
Materials and Care
Nina indicates they use only the best materials which are all recyclable. Most of the plastic portions of her toys are made in China while the wooden toys are made in Sweden.
Caring for these toys is pretty simple. Information on the toys I was looking at indicate to simply remove all the remaining treats or food and hand wash with soap and warm water. Followed up by rinsing and drying. It would be nice if these toys were dishwasher safe, but I could not find any that indicated they were.
Maui is a pretty smart girl but I haven’t tried one of these strategy dog toys with her yet. I’m going to give one a try. I’m thinking of skipping level I just because, well she so doggone smart. I’m going to hop on up to a level 2 toy and try the Dog Tornado. I will update this post with some videos of her trying out her new activity dog toy.
If you decide to get one for your pup let us know how it goes and what they think of the toy! We would be really excited to hear what you think and even see some videos!