Tuesday, May 10, 2016

BUSTER ActivityMat to Keep Your Senior Dog's Mind Healthy

We have all heard the phrase “if you don’t use it, you lose it” applied to a human’s physical and/or mental skills and the same is true for dogs. Just as you would walk your dog to keep his body healthy you need to provide different stimuli to keep his mind healthy too. It’s why Oz has several puzzle toys to play with including the BUSTER ActivityMat by Kruuse.

BUSTER ActivityMat to Keep your Senior Dog's Mind Healthy

As dogs age, they can suffer mental decline just like humans. This decline is known as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) and it involves things like increased agitation, separation anxiety, loss of appetite, loss of their sense of adventure and disorientation. It is a common occurrence with almost 30% of dogs age 11-12 suffering from the syndrome and almost 70% of dogs age 15 and older suffering from CDS.

A good way to help your senior dog avoid CDS is by providing him/her with mental stimulation and activity. This can be almost any new experience from walking in a new area, teaching your senior dog new tricks and/or providing fun puzzle games that reward the accomplishment of the puzzle task. Oz gets a lot of mental stimulation and activity from all our outdoor adventures but I still provide him with puzzle toys because I want him to stop and think.

BUSTER ActivityMat by Kruuse

Though Oz had several different types of puzzle toys, I really like the BUSTER ActivityMat for him and he really enjoys playing with it. I have found that other puzzle toys are geared more towards dogs that use their mouth to figure out the puzzle but the BUSTER ActivityMat allows Oz to use his Terrier skills of scratching, digging and nosing to find the hidden reward.

The basic BUSTER ActivityMat comes with the gray mat and three activities – the envelope, the water lilly and the cone cloth. The activities snap onto the mat and you can arrange them and rearrange them however you like. There are also additional activities sold separately for a total of 12 activities in all. All the activities have places for you to hide your senior dog’s favorite treats or kibble. As your senior dog solves the activities, he will find the treats and be rewarded.

Kruuse BUSTER ActivityMat great for Terriers

So, where are the treats hidden on the BUSTER ActivityMat? The envelope, which is secured by the wooden rod, has a big opening for the treat however the water lilly, the red square, has small pouches for treats on the inside of each flap that opens. Those openings are small and require a little paw dexterity and nosing to get the reward. With the cone cloth, you can wrap the treat up into the cloth or just hide it underneath the cloth – I prefer wrapping it up as I love watching Oz give the cloth a good Terrier shakedown.

If you are new to puzzle toys, here are a few important things to remember when starting:
  • It is the process of solving the task that is meant to be the mental stimulation/activity;
  • It is not important if your dog can solve the puzzle right away; and
  • Avoid over-stimulation and/or frustration by limiting the time spent on the puzzle to 15 minutes each session.

What kind of mental activity do you provide to your dog? Would you use puzzle toys to keep your senior dog’s mind healthy?


  1. I love this idea... and I think it is better than plastic or wooden toys... maybe I can try this mat for Easy too, it would be a nice playground for a rainy day when we have to stay inside...

  2. We have 5 different Plastic Puzzles.... that mom brings out MOSTLY in the WINTER when we can't get Outside to do fun stuffs... we have never seen one like THIS before... it looks FUN... and we like the pawt about using our Paws instead of our Teefs...

  3. Games to engage the mind. That's some good stuff, Oz.

    Aroo to you,

  4. Well that looks like lots of fun.
    stella rose

  5. I have to admit, I love puzzle toys
    Lily & Edward

  6. We just bought a buster activity mat last week and were so excited to introduce it to our pup. However, he didn't seem to get it at all and wasn't that interested in it. How was Oz the first time you tried the mat, and do you have any tips for helping beginner level dogs figure it out? We only used level 1 tasks and tried to help him find the treats but still no luck.

  7. We have a couple of food/treat puzzles but not this uber cool activity mat! Adding it to the must-have list. ♥

  8. Thanks for the review! Dying to have one of these for Dakota! He has some Nina Ottosson things but not this! DakotasDen

  9. Bailie and I do our dog sports which are mainly mentally taxing. Katie is not in any condition really for much these days. We want to get one of these mats next time we have a puppy in the house.

  10. Katy likes using her paws on the plastic ones, this might work for her.

  11. Lexi's Mom here. I think I will get Lexi a puzzle as a belated b-day present. I made up a game that Lexi, with her excellent communication skills (as she so often points out in her blog) asks to play a lot. I call it the leave it, find it game. I break up treats and lay them down around the house with her following and watching. Each time I lay one down, I say, "Leave it!" If she leaves it, I move on to lay down another, and so on. If she grabs one, the game is over. (So if want to teach this game, start with just 2.) After we are done with the leave it part, I say, "Find it!" and she works backward finding and eating all the treats. She rarely forgets where one is!

  12. AnonymousMay 10, 2016

    Mom has a ton of IQ puzzle toys for me. Plus she always hides things for me to find and teaches me new tricks a lot. Even though I am not 100% senior yet, she says it's good to keep my tiny brain busy.

    Love and licks,

  13. That looks like lots of fun.

  14. A great idea! We never thought about this before!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  15. looks like a great puzzle toy
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

  16. ohhh I bet my puppies would of loved that

  17. That looks like a fun toy!

  18. I dont have any puzzle toys. But I think they would be fun, I just have red cups that mommy hides treats under.
    Your games look fun,, I bet your good at playing too!


Thank you for stopping by and leaving a pawprint. I enjoy reading each and every one!
Cairn cuddles,
Oz the Terrier