Irish start-up hopes to cure dog boredom

Dogs need more than just exercise to keep busy...

Irish doggy start-up K9 Connectables innovative pet toys are set to be showcased at Crufts Dog Show this week. The company is trying to solve the age-old problem of keeping our furry friends occupied (giving them an alternative activity to do rather than ripping up their owners' houses).

The product was developed by industrial designer James McIlvenna who started looking for a solution to the problem of canine boredom after his labrador Sandy attacked his wedding album.

"The idea with the K9 Connectables series of toys is that you stuff the dog’s favourite food and treats inside and connect them together," James explained.

Hungry (or bored) dogs need to work their way through puzzles to get their reward.

“The dog can smell the food but has to break the connections apart to get at it ... And the connections are designed with a three-ring system which can gradually make the task even harder for your pet – for example, it takes Sandy 45 minutes of constant play to get her reward of peanut butter inside the toys," he added.

"A lot of dogs suffer from separation anxiety – when you leave the house the dog just gets bored and has to channel their energy somewhere ... Exercise alone is never enough for a dog – they need stimulation and to be mentally engaged," he continued.

The products tap into the fact that dogs were domesticated to help humans carry out tasks and many of them are expert problem solvers.

Mr McIlvenna recently joined Bobby Kerr on Down to Business and gave Newstalk listeners a live demonstration with Sandy the labrador.

K9 Connectables toys are available in a range of independent stores around Ireland and 13 Petmania outlets and k9connectables.com.

It hopes that the exposure that its trip to Crufts will help the company to secure a British distribution deal.