Last updated on February 2, 2016
Do you remember the days of playing board games…long before video games came along? Your dog needs mental stimulation, too. As a child of the 70’s and a teenager of the 80’s, board games were a staple in our household. I know my parents used to tell us to “stop fighting” and go play Monopoly, Trouble, CandyLand, or Battleship. Imagine if your dog could have the same fun on rainy or cold days.
Nina Ottosson felt that way. She is one of 45 people named by Dog Fancy magazine as having changed the pet world, and through bits and pieces, literally, Ottosson has done so. Ottosson is the inventor of dog toys that have improved the lives of canines for years. Perhaps you have seen these games and puzzles on pet websites, but for those who have used them, you know how brain inspiring they are for dogs. She is also one of the Fidose of Reality Pawer Women of 2015.
The line of Ottosson board games range in difficulty from Level 1 for beginners, all the way up to Level 4 for more advanced pooches and those who have mastered levels 1 through 3. Even cooler, these games stimulate your dog’s mind, which is very important for his or her overall health. Nina Ottosson’s philosophy is that the dog has four legs and one head and all five need activity in different ways – both physical and mental.
There are at least five reasons your dog needs mental stimulation, and if you read on, we’re giving away one of our dog, Dexter’s, favorite board games: The Dog Casino!!!
(5) Postoperative Mental Stimulation: After my dog had his surgery to repair a ruptured ACL (ligament) in his leg (twice), he was on restricted activity instructions from the surgeon. As such, I knew that if my dog was not allowed to walk, play, or otherwise in some way engage. In our post about how to entertain a dog after surgery, we discovered that Nina Ottosson board games helped him have fun, keep his doggie mind active, and not feel bored. You want to get a game that does not require a lot of moving around, jostling, or getting the dog “worked up.” View the entire board game collection from Nina Ottosson here. Personally, I would place the game with the treats hidden in front of my dog while he recovered from leg surgery. I would show him the treat, hide it, and then allow him to watch me spin the game board, for example, on the Dog Spinny game.
(4) Rainy Day and Winter Day Indoor Fun: When it rains outside, there isn’t a lot you can do with your dog, right? Wrong!!! Over the years, we’ve discovered a bunch of fun indoor games to keep both you and your dog waiting for the showers to pass. One of these indoor dog games is called Dog Casino. The Dog Casino is a fun and challenging way to get a dog engaging in play and even help them slow down if they tend to eat their meal fast. Our dog loves removing the bones and opening the sliding compartments to reveal all the treats that are hidden inside. For this game, the difficulty rating is considered hard. You can see how our dog mastered it. Remember, when you train your dog, this is all about positive reinforcement. Play the new game in short bursts until the dog understands what you want. Never scold a dog or yell at a dog for not doing what you want. Slowly work up to more advanced levels and game play as the dog gets better, more confident, and is enjoying the process. Here’s our Cocker Einstein. Keep reading because we are giving away a Dog Casino board game below.
(3) Strengthen the Bond Between Dog and Dog Parent: When I play these games with Dexter, he genuinely has fun. I love watching his face light up when he discovers the hidden treat treasures. In return, Dexter gains confidence, wants to engage with me, and as a dog mom, that makes me feel good. Who doesn’t want their dog to get the warm fuzzies because you are his or her parent? We all want that, right?! Here’s Dexter waiting for the “okay, go” command from me as he is ready to conquer the Nina Ottosson MixMax puzzles. Put together several games to form one BIG activity board game. Hide treats and let your dog figure out how to find them. You can also create your own puzzle game by combining several different games, and you decide how difficult it will be, from easy to very advance – there are endless possibilities! I highly recommend you supervise your dog with these pieces, as some of them are small. You do not want your dog to swallow anything. Just as you would watch a small child play with a game, please provide the same level of safety and supervision around your dog with these games. We store our games in the closet when not in use.
Side note: When my dog is yearning for a play session with the board games, he paws at the closet or sits in front of it and stares at me! Who trained whom?
(4) Train Your Dog: My dog was awarded Canine Good Citizen status by the American Kennel Club and it happened purely on a whim. He never took a class to train for it, we didn’t practice the specific elements of the test previously, and only on prompting of family and friends did we decide to try it. In retrospect, what we did do that contributed to his overall preparation by osmosis for the Canine Good Citizen title is playing games indoors. You can read all about how to pass the CGC test here.
Whenever I do these board games with Dexter, I have him do a sit-stay and then give the “okay” command. I cheer him on and encourage him throughout his sniff and find process of game play. I know he feels good about it, since the game play continues, he gets the treat reward, and his little tail goes a hundred miles an hour throughout. Remember, always do this in short bursts, cheer the dog on, end on a positive note, and never yell at, scold, or otherwise make a dog feel bad for his efforts.
(5) Monitor Calorie Count: Have you ever taken the time to write down how many calories your dog consumes in one day? There are ways to safely help your overweight dog lose weight. he Association for Pet Obesity Prevention reveals that 57.9% of cats and 52.7% of dogs are overweight or obese. One of the methods we use in treat distribution is measuring out what we put into the Nina Ottosson board games as a reward. Check the calorie content of the treats your dog consumes and be sure to know how much he or she should be eating in a given day. The folks at Slim Doggy have a wonderful calorie counting resource. You can also talk to your dog’s veterinarian.
If your dog is into veggies, use pieces but be sure he or she cannot choke on them. If the treat bag does not tell the amount of calories, contact the manufacturer for this information. Calories quickly add up when it comes to treats. Most importantly, the treats used in the game play should be high value ones. If your dog despises steamed green beans, don’t put them in the game board and expect Fido to perform.
How to Win a Dog Casino from Nina Ottosson and Fidose of Reality
Now, onto the fun. No fancy apps or special things to do: Just reply in the comments below and tell us one thing you do to keep your dog’s mind stimulated. You’ll automatically be entered into the random drawing to win the Dog Casino game, valued at $52.99. USA only, please, 18 and older. Complete rules here.
Opens now and ends on 01/29/16.
One entry per per person, please.
Contest is closed and the winner is: Anita and Paco!!!
QUESTION: What do you do to keep your dog’s mind stimulated???
Note: We were not compensated for this post, but Nina Ottosson herself did send Dexter send games to play.