Ditch the food bowl for these awesome toys

Want an easy way to amuse your dog, keep him out of mischief, add more fun to his life, and feed him, all at the same time?

Enrichment and puzzle toys are some of my favorites about which to teach clients. Since I’m a dog geek, I have a ton of these that clients can try out with their own dogs before purchasing. It’s a lot of fun watching how different dogs have their own preferences, and ways of interacting. I advocate using these to feed your dogs instead of a regular bowl! If you use these, you’re not only giving your dog the meals he needs–you’re also giving him an outlet that can prevent many boredom-based problem behaviors! Licking, chewing and sniffing at these toys can also help him relax. The mental energy he will expend will also help tire him out and make him feel overall more calm.

There is no shortage of toys out there on the market, so I’ve compiled a listing of my favorites here. Also, keep in mind these guidelines to ensure safety and fun!

  • Always choose a toy that is appropriate in size and strength for your dog. Some are more avid chewers than others, and some find some toys more interesting to “kill” than others. Stuffed toys can be confusing if you have human children and don’t want the dog to get their toys so it may be best to not give these toys to some dogs. Likewise, these can be destroyed and possibly ingested, as can rope toys or tennis balls. Whenever you give your dog a new toy, ALWAYS supervise him to ensure he won’t get hurt.
  • By and large, choosing toys that are more durable (made of plastics or adequate rubber) are much more safe and harder to tear apart and ingest. Still, some dogs can and will do this. ALWAYS take away these objects if they may cause problems while you are unable to supervise. Better safe than sorry (and no one wants a surgical vet bill)!
  • Too many people give toys to their dogs and don’t engage with them or make it exciting. Before giving your dog a toy, keep it to yourself. Say to him, “What do I have, Fido?” and show him the toy but keep it, engage with it, make it very exciting, and then give it to him. Building excitement can help him engage with the toy.
  • Also, keep in mind the level of your dog’s ability to engage with these toys. Some dogs are less confident in exploring new items in the environment, so choose simpler toys first, and/or make the level of the toy easier when you first give it, as opposed to harder. If it’s too hard, it won’t be fun but frustrating. Help your dog achieve easier levels of play, then harder levels, to build confidence and lessen frustration.

And now, here are some of my favorites!


01Kong Toys02Kong Wobbler  03Kong Genius 04Kong Quest

KONG toys are some of the least-destructible and ALWAYS on the top of our go-to list. You can fill the classic original Kong with a variety of treats and stuffing, freeze them for added duration and to soothe teething puppy teeth. You can even use these to acclimate dogs to their crates; by feeding a string or piece of metal through the large end of the Kong, tie a knot or affix the metal to latch on the small hole end. Then you can stuff, freeze, etc., and then attach it to the back of the crate for the dog to find. Once inside, he will not be able to take it out, and you can gradually close the crate door. The Kong Wobbler is especially fun for those active dogs that love to bat stuff around! The Genius and Quest toys are also great alternatives to change it up.


01WPToppl-dog-treat-toy-group_0 02WPtizzi-dog-toy-group-2 03WPtux_family 04WPhurley_family 05WPbumi-dog-tug-toy-group 06WPjive_family

WestPaw Design Zogoflex Dog Toys are guaranteed durable, and there are many styles from which to choose. If your dog loves retrieving, playing tug, finding treats or any combination thereof, this line offers it all. One of our favorites is the Toppl Treat Toy (top L). There are little fingers inside the toy, as well as a hole on the side, so treats/food can be smeared or placed inside in a variety of ways. The small Toppl also fits into the larger one for added fun challenges!


Smart IQ Ball

This is my favorite treat-dispensing ball toy. You can unscrew the ball so there are two halves—the bottom half can be filled with treats, and you can then adjust the hole out of which they fall to be easier/more difficult. The top half can also store more treats and has another hole. Two layers of absolute wonderful fun for all puppies who love to chase balls around and get yummies for it!


PS01Barnacle PS02BouncyBone PS03KibbleNibble PS04SquirrelDude PS05TwistNTreat PS06Tug-a-Jug

PetSafe (formerly Premier) makes a lot of treat-dispensing products that make for great enrichment for your pup. There are many varieties; from top left to bottom right: The barnacle has three different holders of treats and you can adjust the difficulty level by taking out some of the inside plastic parts that keep the treats inside. The bouncy bone is one of my dogs’ very favorites—the jerky that fits on either side of the ball can be fitted quite snuggly and takes a while to completely get torn out and consumed. The kibble nibble is somewhat similar to a wobbler/other ball-like toys. The squirrel dude is similar to a regular Kong toy. The tug-a-jug requires the dog pull on the rope to get treats out, and the twist-n-treat can be adjusted in height to release treats more easily or more hard!


Zanies01 Funny Farm Interactive Puzzle Zanies04 Plastic Interactive Puzzle Toy Zanies03 Wood Interactive Puzzle Toy Zanies02 Jack & Ball

Zanies makes a variety of toys, including awesome treat-dispensing toys and puzzles. From L to R above: The funny farm puzzle makes cool noises as your dog moves pieces around to get treats; the jack and ball is also fillable with treats and the ball can actually come off for separate fun. The wood and plastic puzzle toys also offer a variety of fun ways to get treats!


Ottosson Dog Brick Ottosson Dog Casino Ottosson Dog Maze  Ottosson Dog Pyramid Ottosson Dog Tornado  Ottosson Dog Twister Ottosson Dog Miracle

Nina Ottosson makes a variety of puzzle toys ranked in level of difficulty. They come with training DVDs so you can better introduce them to your dog. Start with easier puzzles before moving up to more difficult toys. Some dogs may pick up more quickly than others, and some may need encouragement to continue. Others may need for you to make the toy easier before harder; for instance, the “Dog Miracle Puzzle” (last photo) has a lot of pieces, but in the beginning, you may only want to use one or two to start. Your dog will set the pace!

Have fun!
Owner, Delightful Doggies

September 2015 clients

It’s been an amazing September, and we’re really excited for October! Delightful Doggies continues to grow and we’ll be announcing some new offers and opportunities through the end of this year. Your continued support and word-of-mouth has helped make it happen. Thank you so much for being a Delightful Doggies client!

You can click on the below photo icons to see all the great moments we shared in August, and view it in a slideshow format after clicking on the slideshow button on that webpage (top right computer/play icon). You can see even more photos and slideshows on our Flickr site, as well as a lot more photos and other great content on our Facebook page.

Allie Barbie Huckleberry Sasha Tucker Avery Dieter Jackson Patti Grace Beemer Gracie Oliver Olive and Mickey Charlie Ivory Purdy Tula Sookie Ruffus Kai Yogi Bear Loo Hildy Harley, Ruby and Max Kooka

Thank you, and Happy Training!

September client spotlight: Allie the Bernese Mountain Dog

Allie demonstrates the famous "Berner lean!"

Allie demonstrates the famous “Berner lean!”

Congratulations to our September client spotlight, Allie the Bernese Mountain Dog!

Before living in her current home, Allie was out in the countryside with a Great Pyrenees, roaming off-leash and without very much human contact. Now that she lives in an urban environment, she’s had a great deal of adjusting to do! It hasn’t been easy but with her mother’s love and commitment to training, she is starting to get better at learning what life is all about.

Allie has been learning how to be more calm and confident in her interactions with new people. Through the power of cheese, we have become great friends and have a base of trust so that we can teach her many wonderful things, like how to do nose work games, playing Look At That, how to walk politely on a loose leash and Freedom harness, and pattern games to refocus on mom when things become overwhelming. Touch exercises and calming tools and protocols are also helping Allie in the process.

We are so happy for the progress Allie and her mother have achieved so far, and looking forward to much more! We’ve gone from full-0n nervous breakdowns when I come over to getting hugs and excited, rather than fearful, barking, in just a few sessions. :) Thank you for entrusting us to help build confidence, trust and skills together that will make life even more beautiful than it is!

Happy Training,
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Join me for the Summerset Festival’s FunDay for Dogs!

I’ll be exhibiting at the 2015 Summerset Festival’s “FunDay for Dogs” on Sunday, September 20 at Littleton’s Clement Park, 10a – 4p. Please come out and have some fun with us!

Jasper and I hope to see you at FunDay for Dogs

Jasper and I hope to see you at FunDay for Dogs

My booth will feature dog enrichment toys and activities, dog training and behavior information, awesome dog treat giveaways, and a chance to win a FREE training consult with me! In addition, I’ll be happy to answer any and all of your dog training and behavior questions. And my wonderful and faithful companion/assistant, Jasper, will be there to say hi!

I hope to see you there!
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Group meetup set for Sept. 13

It’s been a long time coming, our first-ever group meetup!11403196_884579748281141_6458530711471922271_n

We’ll be meeting at Rosedale Park in south Denver at 12:30p on Sunday, September 13 to practice loose leash walking skills, and how to deal with distractions and getting your dog’s attention.

Limited space and preregistration is required–don’t miss out on the fun!–for more details, check out our group meetups page and email me at laura@delightfuldoggies.com to sign up.

Thanks, and Happy Training!
Owner, Delightful Doggies

August 2015 clients

It’s hard to believe that the summer is coming to an end soon, and autumn is just around the corner. It’s been a wonderful, busy summer season and we can’t wait to work with more clients in the fall!

You can click on the below photo icons to see all the great moments we shared in August, and view it in a slideshow format after clicking on the slideshow button on that webpage (top right computer/play icon). You can see even more photos and slideshows on our Flickr site, as well as a lot more photos and other great content on our Facebook page.

Dixie Betty Quinn and Finn Barbie Ivory Darari Yogi Miles Knox Huckleberry Gracie and Beemer Dieter Charlie, Olive and Mick Allie Jackson Matilda Avery Kai Patti Grace Sasha Patrick

Not pictured but still very appreciated: Nina the boxer mix.

Thank you, and Happy Training!

August client spotlight: Dixie the terrier mix

Congratulations to our August client spotlight, Dixie Mae the terrier mix!

Dixie is a charming Delightful Doggy Finishing School graduate!

Dixie is a charming Delightful Doggy Finishing School graduate!

Dixie is a charming girl who just completed our Delightful Doggy Finishing School, a six-week comprehensive course in understanding dogs and how to teach them effectively all the basic manners and cues they need to be successful in our human world. She was adopted from the Humane Society of the South Platte Valley, and is a lucky girl to get to go on all kinds of road trips, and hang out with mom at work!

Like all terriers, Dixie is tenacious and playful, and can be excitable as well as cuddly. She enjoys tricks and playing with the flirt pole, and is getting better with learning impulse control. She’s also charmed the pants off her entire family when she went on a recent road trip to Arkansas! Dixie makes friends wherever she goes, and leaves a smile on everyone’s face.

Dixie and her mother are fortunate to have found one another, and definitely brighten each others’ lives. We are so happy to have been able to work with them to ensure they have the tools they need to have a long, happy life together. Thank you for choosing Delightful Doggies!

Happy Training!
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Training is essential!

“Animals deserve the best care we can possibly provide. Training should not be considered a luxury that is only provided if there is time; it is an essential part of good animal care. Just as one would never consider developing an animal care program without a veterinary component, a nutritional component, a social component, and an environmental component; nobody should consider caring for an animal without a behavioral management component integrated into the program.” – Ken Ramirez, from the introduction to Animal Training: Successful Animal Management through Positive Reinforcement

Photo courtesy Cognitive Canine, www.facebook.com/cognitivecanine

Photo courtesy Cognitive Canine, www.facebook.com/cognitivecanine

I first heard Ken Ramirez actually speak this quote to an audience earlier this year at an amazing weekend of learning from his vast experience as an animal trainer with 35+ years of using positive training methods on all kinds under his belt. The instant he started talking about this, I got really excited, thinking, “He’s SO RIGHT! What a world we’d live in if everyone who got a pet understood the absolute necessity of proactive training, if it was viewed as a necessity and not just a luxury!”

Ever since then I’ve been thinking about this on a daily basis. Each day I’m working with people and their dogs, I’m thinking not only about how to motivate and teach the dog but also the people in his or her life, to enjoy and be invested in training. I am blessed with many kinds, from those who just got a puppy or dog and want to ensure success together to those who have been living with behavioral issues and are now at the end of their rope and want the problems to stop now.

When we bring an animal into our home, it is our responsibility to teach them how to live in our world. It’s no good to have expectations and not teach the dog what they are, or how to fulfill them. By teaching our dogs skills like sit, down, stay, wait, leave it, drop it, come and loose leash walking, we are helping them–and us–have a happy life together. By understanding and addressing their emotional needs, we can help them become confident and make the right choices.

And it goes beyond that. Even before an animal comes into its forever home, breeders, shelters, rescues and the like should also consider the behavioral needs of the animals as much as any other needs. Imagine if breeders were proactive with teaching stress-free handling and socialization with puppies before finding them homes? I’ve been amazed at how many breeders are also letting littermates go to homes together, given the knowledge we have about littermate syndrome. And if rescues and shelters knew more about how to make their environments calmer, and taught dogs basic manners, how much more appealing and prepared they would be to enter a home–and stay in it–successfully!

I dare all my readers to imagine a world like this, where we can be on the front end of helping us and our animals live happily together, instead of trying to catch up on the back end once problems start. I also want to challenge you to promote the idea that training is essential! If more of us present that viewpoint to each other, hopefully we can start a trend that can make a big difference in our lives and the lives of our furry friends.

Happy Training!
Owner, Delightful Doggies

July 2015 clients

July was very busy and fun! I had such a great time getting to know current clients even more, and taking on more new clients. Your support of my business and passion really mean so much to me, as do your referrals. Thank you so much for another amazing month!

Click on the below photo icons to go to the Delightful Doggies slideshow of July clients, after clicking on the slideshow button on that webpage. You can see even more photos and slideshows on our Flickr site, as well as a lot more photos and other great content on our Facebook page. We’re also welcome to any feedback you have about our social sites, and are so sorry that we’ve not been able to post as many blogs as we’d like–you’re keeping us all so very busy! :)

Quinn and Finn Nash and Jasper Barbie Yogi Koo Tucker Beau Moose Ruby Mae Charlie Mick Olive Dixie Knox Bitte and Dieter Matilda Ziggy Darari Kai Ivory Miles and Wally Betty Gracie and Beemer

Not pictured but still very appreciated: Eleanor the Bernedoodle.

A reminder: I will be out of town August 24 – 31, and will return all inquiries after my return. I appreciate your patience!

Thank you, and Happy Training!
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Client spotlight: Quinn and Finn the pugs

A big congratulations to our July client spotlight, Quinn and Finn the pug siblings!

Quinn and Finn will work for food!

Quinn and Finn will work for food!

Quinn and Finn have been in both our customized training and day training / walk & train programs since the end of May, and they’ve been learning so much! Since they’re brand new in this world, everything is exciting, and sometimes, a little strange and occasionally frightening. Besides working diligently on basic obedience cues, they’ve been learning that they can be calm and not bark at other dogs, people and other stimuli in their environment.

They’ve also been doing great at learning how to be separate from each other, though this can be very hard! Crate training was a little hard at first but they’re starting to understand how awesome it can be to go in to their respective spaces and relax. This is paramount for them so they can be confident in adulthood, and independent of one another.

Their mothers have done a spectacular job of understanding their needs, and besides getting our one-on-one support in training, they’ve also been a cut above the rest at maintaining the training and working on the items we’ve been going over in coaching. Just yesterday we had a huge leap forward in their “leave it” training–they left a huge piece of cheese on the floor! Impulse control is definitely going well with these pugs, even though they’re very hungry! ;)

The final frontier for them right now is walking together on a loose leash–and we know they’re going to get there, no doubt, because of all the hard work and love their mothers are providing. Thank you for choosing us to help you and we love working with all of you!

Happy Training!
Owner, Delightful Doggies


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