2 Simple Tips for Mental Enrichment: Straight From a Dog Trainer

As everyone is going back into the office or back to school, our dogs will soon be home alone and left to…

Can Your Dog Really Have Too Many Toys?

Dear NPP,

I love spoiling my dog with new toys. I bring home new ones for him all the time but he gets bored of them so quickly. Nothing really holds his interest for longer than a couple of days. What can I do to keep his interest?


Drowning in Dog Toys

Giving toys to your dog is a great way to encourage play, enhance mental stimulation, and increase bonding. However, like with everything good in life, moderation is key.

NorthPoint Pet Tips

  1. Lump your dog toys into groups. Each group should have at least one toy for each type of play: tug, fetch, puzzle, and chew. You can customize these categories for your dog’s favorite activities like outdoor play, swimming, etc. You can determine how many toys is appropriate, but 4-5 should be plenty. Put each group of toys into their own basket or storage container. One toy group may include: Mammoth rope toy for tug, a Kong tennis ball for fetch, a West Paw Toppl for mental enrichment, and a Benebone for chewing.
  2. Put away all but one collection of toys. Each week, swap the “old” toys for a new group of toys. At any given time, your dog should have access to just one of those collections of 4-5 toys. When you dig out those new toys, offer them with as much excitement as you would if you brought home a brand-new toy.

Pro Tip: When exchanging toy collections, inspect them for damage that may be hazardous to your dog. If the toy can easily become a choking hazard, discard the toy immediately.

This is also the perfect time to give those toys a good cleaning! Some rubber and plastic toys are dishwasher safe, but most can safely be cleaned with mild dish soap and warm water. Most plush toys are machine washable.

Why It Works:

Having a huge assortment of toys can actually have an adverse effect on your dog. He can easily become overwhelmed and overstimulated, resulting in a lack of excitement around playtime. By removing the “old” toys and replacing them with some that he hasn’t seen in a few weeks, you’re refreshing his play drive with a brand-new variety for him to engage with.

Take Your Dog Outside!

Taking your dog outside should be more than a quick bathroom break. Sharing the great outdoors with your canine companion is vital to having a healthy and happy pet. 

The more time you spend outside together, the more opportunities you’ll have for mental stimulation, physical exercise, socialization, and training opportunities. 

Fresh Air & Sunlight

Even with bad weather and shorter days, getting outside does wonders to improve your dog’s health. 

In most places, outdoor air quality is better than indoor. Our homes are generally full of toxins off-gassing from plastics, carpets, and household cleaners. Fresh air helps minimize your dog’s exposure to this indoor chemical cocktail.

Since we also share much of the same brain chemistry with our dogs, we each use sunlight as a natural antidepressant. As winter days get shorter, our brains produce less serotonin, which can have an adverse effect on our moods. Outdoor sunlight — not filtered through glass — stimulates our retinas, which cue the brain to produce more serotonin, elevating our mood.

A study from the Norwich Medical School found that dog walkers were more physically active. Even on the coldest, wettest, and darkest days, they spent more time outside than non-dog owners did on long, sunny, and warm summer days.


Regular activity burns calories and is an excellent way to keep the pounds off — for you and your pet. Daily walks with your dog are effective and fun ways to combat a sedentary lifestyle and boost overall health. Research from Michigan State University shows that people who owned and walked their dogs were 34 percent more likely to meet federal benchmarks on physical activity.

As our dogs age, immobility becomes a health problem. Your dog’s joints need to move to stay lubricated and healthy. Walking, running, or playing outside is the perfect opportunity to keep your dog mobile.

Regular outings also help your dog regulate her digestive system. Most dogs like to stay on a consistent bathroom schedule. Giving your dog routine trips outside to relieve herself can prevent constipation and bladder infections. 


Like humans, dogs do not like to be bored. They are curious explorers. Getting outside with your dog is the perfect constructive release for his pent-up energy. 

Walking and playing outside allows him to channel his interest in a positive direction and helps build trust and confidence in you and their surrounding environment. 

Regular outings can also reduce behavioral problems like barking, digging, chewing, and excessive licking. 

Mental Health

Getting outside to explore new trails, meet new people and dogs, and sniff new smells is excellent mental stimulation for your dog. 

Another benefit to sharing that outside time with your dog is the mental hygiene it provides to the human. A study by the University of Liverpool revealed that dog owners are motivated to take their dogs on walks because it makes them feel happy, not because of other health and social benefits. 

Walking with dogs meets the emotional needs of both owner and dog alike.


We are typically the focus of our dog’s life. All activity — food, rest, walking, playing — is controlled by us. What better to strengthen the bond with our pets than actively engaging with them in outdoor fun? 

Going on walks is also a great time to alternate exploration with training. You can work on commands such as “heel,” “sit,” and “stay.” One of our favorites is teaching a release command like “OK” or “break.” This teaches your dog that he is under control on the leash until you say “break.” Then he is free to go explore and sniff the environment. 

Your dog is the perfect outdoor buddy. Always willing to go with you, rain or shine. 

Engaging in active play with your dog will help you both stay healthy and mentally fit. Plus, it may just be the best way to express to your dog, “I love you.”

If you have questions about leashes, harnesses, collars, or our favorite dog toys, please chat with us at the shop. We’re passionate about helping you, and your pup get outside!


 1. Yu-Tzu Wu, Robert Luben, Andy Jones. Dog ownership supports the maintenance of physical activity during poor weather in older English adults: cross-sectional results from the EPIC Norfolk cohort. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, July 2017 DOI: 10.1136/jech-2017-208987

2.  Mathew J. Reeves, Ann P. Rafferty, Corinne E. Miller, Sarah K. Lyon-Callo. The Impact of Dog Walking on Leisure-Time Physical Activity: Results From a Population-Based Survey of Michigan Adults. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 2011; 8 (3): 436-444 [abstract

3. Carri Westgarth, Robert Christley, Garry Marvin, Elizabeth Perkins. I Walk My Dog Because It Makes Me Happy: A Qualitative Study to Understand Why Dogs Motivate Walking and Improved Health. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2017; 14 (8): 936 DOI: 10.3390/ijerph14080936

What’s a Boredom Bag?

Our pets need stimulation and engagement when we’re not home or can’t spend time with them. Let us create our best-selling Boredom Bag for your pet. Each bag is lovingly built with your pet’s unique needs and tastes in mind.


Is it Safe to Feed Your Dog a Raw Meaty Bone?

The topic of feeding meaty bones tends to drum up some controversy. Is it safe to feed your pet a raw meaty bone? Is it even beneficial to your pet? How do you know which bones are safe to feed? Let’s address some of these questions.

Raw meaty bones (RMBs) are safe to feed as long as they meet certain safety parameters:

  1. Meaty bones should be purchased from a reliable source with safe handling practices in place and that regularly tests their products for harmful pathogens. Use only RMBs sold specifically for pet consumption. In the U.S., a zero-tolerance policy for raw pet food products ensures that the product has not tested positive for pathogens such as E. Coli or Salmonella. In other words, you should not give your pets RMBs from a grocery store.
  2. Choose the appropriate size/type of bone for your pet. Small RMB’s like chicken necks are perfect for small dogs and cats, whereas turkey and duck necks are better suited for medium to large dogs. As a general rule, it is appropriate to feed a bone the size of your dog’s head. Most dogs, when fed an appropriate size bone, will chew the bone well before swallowing. However, if your dog is a “gulper” or is likely to try and swallow large things without chewing, a RMB may not be an ideal choice for your dog. If you have questions, our staff can help you decide which bones may be appropriate for your dog.
  3. As with all toys and chews, always monitor your dog when feeding bones. Although dogs usually know what to do with a bone, it is important to ensure they are not going to swallow it whole.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’S)

I give my dog marrow bones. Is that the same thing?

No. Marrow bones are known as ‘recreational bones’ because your pet should not be able to chew and consume the bone itself, but rather the tiny bits of fat, tissue, and cartilage left on the bone, as well as the inner bone marrow. ‘Raw meaty bones’ generally refer to bones that have more ‘meat’ on them and less bone, such as turkey and duck necks.

Do they eat the whole thing, bone and all?

Yes. Since RMBs are mostly thin bone, tissue, and cartilage, they are easy for your pet to break up, chew and swallow.

Do I let it thaw? 

No. It is not necessary to thaw your raw bones before feeding. However, some dogs and most cats prefer to have their bone thawed to soften the frozen tissue prior to feeding. If you must thaw the bone, leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours, or submerge it in cool water inside a plastic baggie to thaw it faster.

Should I cook it?

No. Never feed a cooked bone. Cooked bones can splinter, which can cause intestinal obstructions and perforations (not good!).

Which types of bones are safe to feed?

Do not feed weight-bearing bones of heavy animals. What does this mean? When you think of a large animal such as a cow, weight-bearing bones are those that allow the animal to stand properly, which can be too hard on your dog’s teeth.

Why should I offer my dog raw meaty bones?

Bones are an excellent addition to our pet’s diet, and here’s why:

  • They’re an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, and glucosamine.
  • They can help with firmer stool.
  • They can help maintain cleaner teeth and better oral health.
  • They offer mental and physical enrichment for an overall happier (and less bored) pet.

How often should I feed my dog raw meaty bones?

Bones should be fed intermittently as a compliment to your pet’s regular diet. Feeding frequency will depend on your pet’s size, age, and activity level. While they can occasionally be fed in place of a meal, they should not be fed every day.

kittens sleeping together

What I Learned from Adopting Two Kittens

After our senior cat Timmy passed away in April of 2021, I decided to adopt two female kittens from a local rescue to join our family. That July, we adopted 14 week old Kiwi and Nala. We were only going to adopt one kitten, but the rescue said we had to take both. Of course I couldn’t say no! Caring for these little ones has been quite the trip for me and my family as we all had to adjust to having not one but two tiny fuzzy troublemakers rambling around the house. Here are some things we learned through the last few months! 

1. They are constantly with each other and absolutely inseparable! If Kiwi can’t find Nala, she will cry out for her until they find each other. Every time I see them, they are either grooming each other, cuddled up sleeping together, or finding mischeif together. They even use the litter box one right after the other!

Lesson Learned: Cats create incredibly strong social bonds! I’m so glad we chose to adopt Nala and Kiwi together so they can keep each other company.2. Nala and Kiwi have a ton of kitten energy, but they burn off most of it around 3 am! We were completely surprised to hear them running laps around the house in the middle of the night – like it’s the Indy 500 – every night! They chase each other, galloping full speed up and down the hallway, occasionally knocking over picture frames and glassware from tables and counters.Lesson Learned: If you want to sleep at night, engage cats in playtime during the day to let them burn off some energy! We knew cats are naturally nocturnal, but I really underestimated exactly how much energy they would burn off in the early morning hours without daytime play sessions.3. Both kittens LOVE to hunt! I first noticed this behavior when I saw them watching the birds and bugs outside our window. They sit on the back of the couch and make a ‘chittering’ noise whenever they see something move outside. Then we saw them do it again when we played with the red laser toy! They really do look like their stalking and hunting prey, like a wild cat!

Lesson Learned: Cats – even kittens and indoor cats – are hunters at heart. They have strong natural instincts to stalk, chase, hunt, and catch their ‘prey’, even if it is just the little red laser dot. 4. We really weren’t expecting the kittens to have such voracious appetites. We feed them small meals several times a day, but they are always hungry! We’ve caught them stealing food from our plates right in front of us. When they eat they shake the food with their mouth, like wild cats!

Lesson Learned: With high-activity kittens comes a high food drive and ravenous appetites. Kittens need many small meals each day – more than an adult cat – to stay satiated. Watch out because they’ll eat your dinner, too! 

Rules to Live by: Leash Etiquette in Public

Keep your dog safe with leash training and body language understanding. Follow leash etiquette, advocate for your dog, and use effective tools when necessary.”

Tina’s Guide to a Great Hiking Spot

5 Ways to Engage your Cat with a Busy Schedule

Cats have evolved to keep a rhythm of activities that keep their metabolism in check. This sequence affects every part of their daily metabolic processes, ranging from their hunger and digestion to their grooming and sleep cycles. 

The Importance of ‘The Hunt’

Think about how a lioness lives in the wild: She sleeps during the midday hours. When she’s not sleeping, she spends most of her time hunting her next meal; roaming her territory in search of prey, then stalks, pounces, and catches it. After she eats, she grooms herself and goes back to sleep. And while you may not have a wild lioness sleeping in your home, your feline’s entire physiology is still optimized to run this cycle centered around the hunt.

How does this affect my cat?

Unlike a lioness, household cats do not have to hunt several times a day and often have access to food 24/7. It’s no wonder then, why roughly 60% of cats in the U.S. are obese1. While diet and nutrition play an integral role in that statistic, daily activity levels (or lack thereof) also contribute to this epidemic. Here’s why:

  1. Exercise from play time (the hunt) increases the metabolic rate. Without adequate exercise, the body doesn’t burn as much energy as it consumes, resulting in excess fat. Extra weight of course puts strain on the joints, leading to decreased mobility and even less exercise.
  2. Lack of positive interaction/activity can lead to destructive and unwanted behaviors. Just like humans, a cat’s mental health can benefit from regular exercise and socialization. Cats who are generally mischievous or destructive, disinterested, unsocial, grouchy, or fearful can benefit greatly from play sessions.
  3. Exercising the mind and body can reduce stress for your cat as much as it does for you!

How can I apply this to my cats when I work all day?

There are several ways that you can improve your cat’s mental and physical health – even when you work a 9 to 5! Here are some easy changes you can make, even with a busy schedule:

  1. Stop free-feeding (leaving food out all day). A cat’s digestive system and the entire metabolic process are triggered at the sight and smell of food. Leaving food out all day means your cat’s digestive system is constantly in production mode, which can lead to numerous health issues including obesity, diabetes and IBD.
  2. Increase meal frequency. Cats thrive on frequent small meals each day instead of one or two large meals. Feed as soon as you wake, when you get home from work, and again right before bed. This does not mean to feed more food, but rather to divide your feeding measurement into more, smaller meals. Doing so will ease digestion and speed metabolism.
  3. Have a short play session before mealtime. Engage your cat in a 2-minute game with a laser dot or wand toy before you feed her. This activity engages her mind and taps into her instinctual behavior to hunt and kill her prey.
  4. Regularly engage your cat in short play sessions, especially in the evening before bed. This not only gets her some much-needed exercise to burn energy, but also benefits her mental health through interaction and socialization. This is particularly important if your cat wakes you up in the middle of the night or at the crack of dawn. A tired kitty will want to sleep later!

Always give your cat a treat after playtime. If we’re thinking of a play session as “the hunt”, then it’s important to allow your cat to catch and eat what it was hunting. Otherwise, why bother hunting at all, right? Find some treats that your cat goes bananas for, and after a few minutes of chasing the red dot, give verbal praise and offer the treat This is exceptionally important for your cat’s mental health, as hunting repetitively without a successful kill can be very discouraging.



2 Simple Tips for Mental Enrichment: Straight From a Dog Trainer

As everyone is going back into the office or back to school, our dogs will soon be home alone and left to their own devices.  Too often we hear owners focus solely on physically tiring their pups but forget to tire them mentally.  Here are two ways to provide mental enrichment for your dog so that they don’t get bored while everyone is gone:

Transform every meal time into training time.


Whether you are teaching obedience commands like “’sit”, “down”, or “heel”, or have graduated to teaching tricks like “paw”, and “roll-over”, making your dog work for every bite of food goes a long way in providing that mental drain. Some dogs will master the “let’s try every trick” approach until they get the treat.  There is very little mental drain in paying no attention and trying everything for every command.  We want to have our dogs slow down, pay attention, and carefully choose which behavior they know is associated with the command.  Since dogs read gestures and body language much better than they understand verbal cues, try to pair a hand gesture with each command.  Say the command first, then provide the gesture, then reward them.  There are millions of free videos on youtube or the tips and tricks section of our Instagram account @knottydog has some great pointers.

Get your dog ready for you to leave before you actually leave.


Practice a “place” or a “crate” command while everyone is home and give them something to chew on while they are away from you.  If your dog follows you around the house when you’re home doing routine activities, there is a good chance that when everyone leaves for the day, it will be very challenging for them.  The more we help our dogs practice being alone/away from us even while we are home, the more ready they will be for the moments when we all actually leave.  Practicing being calm and relaxed away from everyone is a huge confidence builder, and can be very mentally draining if they are used to always being close.  Again, there are tons of resources for teaching these commands online and if you ever need help with implementation, send us an email or find us on Facebook!