Pet product review: the Kong Wobbler

Kong Wobbler is a good toy

Many people don’t realise how much animals enjoy toys. Pets are surprisingly similar to young children in their attitude to play. Dogs and cats often have favourite toys that they enjoy going back to repeatedly. When training animals, it isn’t always necessary to use food treats: some animals are more highly motivated by other types of rewards. Sometimes praise from an owner is enough, and for some dogs, like Kiko, being allowed to play with a toy is one of the best ways of making her happy. If I want Kiko to sit and stay, all that I need to do to gain her full, transfixed attention is to hold a toy in my hand as I speak to her.
Like children, dogs enjoy having a range of toys. Kiko has accumulated all sorts of play objects in her short life. She has rubber rings, bouncy balls, bone-shaped chews and toughened plastic flying discs. There are objects on ropes and some with handles. There’s a spectrum of colours, from bright red to pink to blue to green.
We do have to be careful when choosing toys for her. Just as parents need to make sure that children’s toys are safe, we need to do the same for our little dog. In particular, we need to avoid giving her objects that are small enough to swallow, or toys that can have small pieces broken off them by chewing. As a vet, I’ve often had to carry out operations on pets to remove pieces of toys that have become lodged in the intestines.
I know that some readers will be reading this and wondering what all the fuss is about. Why should a dog need toys? Isn’t it enough to throw an occasional tennis ball for a dog, or to chuck them a bone to chew from time to time? The truth is that dogs enjoy playing: it’s a fun way to spend time, and it’s good for them too. Play gives animals both mental and physical exercise, and it contributes hugely to their enjoyment of life. If you watch animals spending time together, you’ll see that they often engage in play with one another. When you give them a toy to play with, you are simply providing more possibilities for this type of enjoyable activity.
Novelty is important. If a toy has been left on the ground for a few days, Kiko loses interest in it. No amount of waving it around or throwing it towards her will work: the toy has become “boring”. If, instead, I bring out a new toy, her attitude changes completely. Her ears go up, her head cocks to one side, and she is full of enthusiasm.
The Kong Wobbler is Kiko’s current favourite toy.  She loves toys that has a double function: something to play with as well as something that feeds her. The Kong Wobbler is a larger hard plastic cone with a semi-spherical base. The base unscrews, so that you can fill the cavity inside with with little dry biscuits (part of Kiko’s normal dinner ration of Burns Adult biscuits).
As Kiko hits the Kong Wobbler with her paw, it wobbles from side to side, throwing biscuits onto the ground where Kiko can eat them.
The Kong Wobbler – like many high quality toys – is not cheap, at €17.99 in Ireland (or £13.94 in the UK) . But it’s a hard wearing toy that will last for many years, 

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Please note that I am unable to answer veterinary questions in comments. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health it is always better to contact your vet.

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