Pumpkin is a fall favorite – but by my standards pumpkin is an anytime favorite for the pups. I whipped up this vitamin-rich, fiber-rich pumpkin treat recipe and they never turn it down. Pumpkin is a safe choice for those with sensitive stomachs as well.
Here’s the pumpkin muffin dog treat recipe ingredients: (more…)
If there’s one thing we love, it’s a woman who is courageous and takes chances. Nina Ottoson, CEO and Owner of Nina Ottosson Products, is just that. Over 21 years ago she set out to find a way to keep her dogs stimulated while attending to her growing family. Fast forward over two decades and her dog puzzle toys are a major hit with dog trainers and psychologists along with pet owners across the globe.
I’m thrilled to feature Nina to give you a glimpse into her hard work and dedication that has lead to her improving the lives of dogs for the past two decades. See how her eco-friendly dog puzzle toys have helped everyone from shelter dogs to her own Bouvier des Flandres, and advice she has for keeping a healthy, happy household with your pets.
Full Name: Nina Ottosson
Current Title/Company: CEO/Owner Nina Ottosson Products
What was your first job?
I started working at the hospital when I was 18 years old, and when I started my company, I worked nights at the hospital and days with my company.
You started your business 21 years ago and have worked hard at getting your message out about the benefits of your dog puzzle products in keeping dogs out of trouble. How have your seen fans respond? How have your dog’s lives changed?
When my two kids were born a year and a half apart in 1989 and 1990, I did not have time to activate my dogs the way they and I were used to. I had two Bouvier des Flandres that I used to train and compete with. My bad conscience made me start thinking about how to activate my dogs in a simple, fun and varied way indoors, together with the kids, and since 1990 I have worked with development and design of dog activity toys and games that stimulate the dog mentally, or “brainteasers” for dogs.
There were many skeptics when I first introduced the new and unique category of toys. But a lot of people, especially dog trainers and psychologists, were excited to get these great tools for training and mental stimulation.
I have always activated my dogs a lot, with tracking etc. One benefit has been to train new puppies on basic commands and bond with them. The games have also been great to have when the dogs have gotten older and can’t be as physically active. Not to mention the great daily use at the office! They have always gotten their food in one of the games or toys. I think my dogs and a lot of other dogs have had healthier, happier lives because of these products.
Another great use for my products is to bond with shelter dogs.
What was your mission for your dog & pet activity toys & games business?
My mission has always been to get the message out to as many people as possible about the importance of mental stimulation. Dogs have four legs and one brain, and all five need to be activated. Many so-called “problem dogs” are actually just bored. It makes me feel great that I have improved life for a lot of dogs in the past 21 years!
For the busy household, what are some of the benefits of bringing your activity games into your pets life?
There are so many benefits of my products for a busy household. By investing just 10-15 minutes a day, you will have a happier dog that creates less problems. If the dog is sufficiently stimulated and activated, it’s easier to leave him alone. It’s easy to activate the dog with these products both outdoors and indoors. They games are designed to be played interactively with the dog, but you can also activate the dog while you are doing other things such as cooking or watching TV. It’s also a great way for kids to interact with the dog.
Why are mental stimulation exercises so important for your pet?
Dogs as well as cats really need to use their brain, and they don’t get to do enough of that today. Their natural instinct is to hunt for food, but we serve them their food in a bowl. So many indoor cats and dogs are bored. They will be much happier and healthier if they get to use their brain. It can help prevent a lot of behavior problems such as chewing, barking, hyperactivity, obesity and more.
Can you tell me more about your range of products? I have an eight-year-old poodle. Which product would you recommend getting an adult dog started with? And puppies?
Today I have a wide range of products, made of both wood and plastic of the highest possible quality. The design and function are based on the animals’ natural instincts and movements. The wood is natural, genuine and eco-friendly with a heavier design, excellent for dogs that get excited and tend to get rough. The plastic have a great colorful design, is easy to clean, and can be used with both wet and dry food. It is great for dogs who drool a lot, or when the games are used by more than one dog. The products have different difficulty levels to suit all kinds of dogs, from easy to very difficult. Dogs are a lot smarter than people sometimes think.
It is hard to generalize what game an adult dog should start with. It depends on many factors, for example what they have done before, what activities you have done, how food-motivated the dog is, and what kind of breed it is. DogBrick and DogTornado are two games that are good to start with for most dogs, since you can vary them from easy to a little more difficult by adding the blocks. Poodles are smart, so the DogCasino or the DogTwister without blocks might be good to start with. In the beginning, you have to be patient and show the dog what he is supposed to do, and use a lot of positive praise. Puppies may want to start with DogSmart (for those who bite less) or DogSpinny (for those who bite more, it contains less parts).
What do you do behind the scenes? How does a product come from concept to completion?
I am involved in the whole product development process, which takes quite a while. I first do several simple drawings and prototypes, and then more and more detailed ones. I also test them on my dogs first, and then other dogs in different sizes. The whole process is quite long and involved, because I want the products to be as good as possible before I release them.
And the materials used to build them?
I only use the best materials possible for both the wooden and the plastic products. It is very important to me. The material needs to be eco-friendly, non-toxic and safe, because my dogs as well as a lot of other dogs will be using these products to get food or treats from.
Walk us through a typical day at Nina Ottosson Games.
Every day starts with a dog walk, and then my dogs are with me at the office. A typical day is not too exciting, it involves a lot of e-mails, phone calls, orders, and sometimes there is some product development. I get a lot of questions and I answer all of them. I like the contact I have with people and dogs who use my products. I also try to be active on Facebook and other social media. Sometimes I go to trade shows. I am very passionate about what I do, and I love my job!
How can pet stores reach out to you if they want to carry your products?
Everyone is welcome to contact me directly if they are interested in my products, and then I can point them in the right direction: firstname.lastname@example.org
Any other tips in keeping a happy, healthy household with your pets?
My advice for a happy and healthy household with pets is to try to activate your dog or cat for a minimum of 15 minutes a day. Skip the food bowl and feed the food in the games instead.
The latest goings-on in the pet industry, summarized below:
Breed Showcase: Ammo the Dachshund.
Weekend Freebie: Girl & Dog iPhone and iPad Wallpaper.
Mini Quiche Zucchini and Bacon Dog Treats Recipe.
The next pup in my breed showcase does double-duty: not only is he an official greeter at his mom’s custom frame shop but is known to be alittle bit of an artist as well. You can follow his many adventures on his official blog. I caught up with Kyley, the owner, to get the scoop on her beloved pup who by the way participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge. Man…talk about being a trooper!
What is your dogs name/nickname?
What breed is your dog?
How old is he/she?
5 years old
How did you both come to be together?
After I got married I knew we had to add a little fur kid to our home right away. When a local breeder had dachshund puppies born the day after our wedding I just knew Ammo would be the perfect addition.
How would you describe your dogs personality?
Ammo has a lot of spunk and a lot to say. He’s not shy about letting me know what he wants. And while he loves to be cuddled, he also has a fierce independent streak and loves nothing more than to go off exploring and hunting.
What are some of his/her favorite playthings?
Do rodents count? Seriously this dog loves anything he can hunt down. Stuffed toys last mere minutes in our house, and his current favorite obsession is a DIY Flirt Pole that I made for him.
One a scale of one to five, how would you rate your pup on the following characteristics?
If your pup had one superpower what would it be?
Ammo would have x-ray vision, perfect for seeing down all his groundhog holes on the farm to tell if it was worth digging in after his underground prey.
Questions about the owner:
How do you manage work, play, and puppy-time?
Ammo gets to come to work with me everyday at my custom framing shop. While the work day can get quite busy, Ammo is great at demanding I break up the day with tug of war, belly rubs, and the occasional bully stick (for him not me!)
How do you keep your home pet-friendly?
Nothing is off-limits for Ammo, he’s the king of the castle! He’s allowed on all the furniture and beds, and even though we have white sofas I find they are very easy to bleach clean when Ammo undoubtedly jumps on them with muddy paws.