Answering the Q's of IQ Toys

Toby loves his IQ toys. I love his IQ toys… They’re so much fun! But what’s the deal with IQ toys… What do they actually do and why are they becoming so popular? Here I’m going to do my best to answer all the Q’s (questions) of IQ toys.  
What is an “IQ Toy”?
IQ toy is our general term for any interactive or treat dispensing dog toy.  There are puzzles, treat dispensers, lickimats, snuffle mats and tons of other designs too! Basically anything that makes your dog figure out an action or sniff out a reward usually in the form of treat.
What does an IQ Toy do?
Although there are tons of different uses for each type of IQ toy, the general purpose of an IQ toy is to stimulate your dog in new ways.  Dogs are extremely intelligent creatures and giving them new outlets that allow them to problem solve, think and figure things out is an amazing way to train their brain.  
How does an IQ Toy benefit my dog?
Just as going for a walk and allowing your dog to sniff gives them mental stimulation or playing fetch and letting your pup run provides physical stimulation. IQ toys are designed to invoke thought and problem solving skills.  This provides a similar mental stimulation to sniffing new scents and discovering new places.  IQ toys are NOT a replacement for physical exercise, going for walks or day-to-day socialization.  But they are an amazing compliment to keep your dog entertained in between walk times and when you’re busy.
Will an IQ toy entertain my dog without me?
Depending on the type of IQ toy you have, they are fantastic entertainment for your dog when you’re busy and can’t give them your full attention.  However we never recommend leaving your dog unattended with a toy, especially when it’s been covered in food or you don’t know their chewing habits.  Self entertaining IQ toys are perfect for when you need to calm down your dog or distract them, but shouldn’t be used as a treat when leaving the house as they could become a choking hazard. 
Can an IQ Toy help with anxiety and high energy dogs?
IQ Toys are definitely a great aid to keeping your dog calm. Personally I use one as a distraction when guests come over, so Toby can get used to them without being high energy and in their face.  However they are DEFINITELY NOT solutions to high anxiety or extremely high energy dogs.  If you are having consistent issues with anxiety in your dog I recommend speaking with a veterinarian or specialist. IQ toys are a great compliment to helping calm your dog but not a solution to intense anxiety or extreme energy.
What type of IQ toy should I get?
Every dog is different & recommending one toy for all dogs is impossible.  Toby has tested his line of IQ toys and finds they all work for different situations and dogs.  What I’m going to do is list the benefits of some and how they can be used, this way you can help narrow down which ones will work best for your situation.
Lickimats - are a fantastic self-entertainment toy for your dog.  I specifically use a lickimat for Toby when guests come over so he’s not all in their face.  All I have to do is spread peanut butter over it and let Toby have it.  It usually lasts him 15 - 25 minutes and longer if we put it in the freezer first.  They can also help tire out your pup as the constant licking motion becomes physically draining.  Definitely a great pick for calming down your dog, keeping them relaxed and giving them some entertainment when you don’t have the chance to.
 
Puzzles - are probably the most “fun-for-human” dog toys ever.  I absolutely love filling them up with treats and trying to help Toby solve them.  I alway recommend getting the Star Shaped puzzle as it’s the hardest one we have.  An amazing bonding experience for you and your dog, plus it’s so much fun watching them try and work their way through.  This is not a self-entertaining toy and more an experience for both you and your dog.  Especially with the harder puzzles, if a dog gets frustrated and you’re not there to help they may start biting and tearing at it instead of solving it (I have first hand experience with Toby doing this).
 
Fill me Up! Treat Toy - is a versatile treat dispensing toy that’s great for keeping your dog occupied.  You can stuff the outside with kibble, or smear peanut butter along the outside to simulate a lickimat.  Then stuff the middle with treats and cream cheese or peanut butter.  This is an amazing way to get your dog occupied.  Depending on how you stuff/fill it you can have them going for 30+ minutes! (Hint: if you freeze the toy after stuffing then give it to your dog it will last even longer).  This is the perfect toy for self-entertaining, plus it’s a regular ball to play fetch too.  Sooth your pup when they’re nervous or calm them down when guests arrive or they’re over stimulated.
Tricky Treat Ball - is the easiest to fill and use, but one of the longest lasting for Toby.  All I have to do is put some of his food into the ball and give it to him.  Because of how it’s designed Toby typically gives up before getting all of them out and I end up helping him out.  I’ve seen Toby entertained by this ball for hours and it’s hands down his favourite toy he has.  We use it to play fetch, indoor soccer, tug of war & it’s a treat dispenser.  The size of the ball makes it difficult for extreme chewers to get it to the back of their jaws, where the damage is usually done.  Plus the rubber is extremely bite resistant.  Toby & I have been playing daily with this toy for 5 months with no damage yet (I classify Toby as a medium-aggressive chewer).
 
There are a bunch of other IQ toys we’ve got available online, with similar uses as the ones listed above.  If you want to browse them head to our IQ collection and check them out for yourself.  You can also visit us and see them in person at the St. Jacobs Farmers Market every Thursday and Saturday.  I love chatting about dogs and figuring out what toy is going to be the best for your pup so anything I can do to help I’m here for you.
I would like to note that I am writing this as a dog owner but I am not a professional dog trainer, behaviourist or veterinarian. If you want specific behavioural or health related advice please contact a professional. 
If I’ve missed anything, or you still have some questions feel free to reach out! I’d love to know your thoughts and Toby is always thrilled to hear from other doggos and their parents. Email us at toby@terribletobys.com or contact us through social media.

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