This innovative company combines food and fun into mentally stimulating dog toys that prevent boredom and enrich his environment.
If you’ve ever come to home to find your dog has chewed up your best shoes, then you know animals sometimes get bored. Unfortunately, in many cases, people give up their dogs and cats because they’ve become “destructive”, when all they really need is something mentally stimulating when they’re alone.
A company called Aikiou has an answer. “We develop solutions to prevent boredom and enrich the lives of animals by providing fun and interactive activities,” says president Alexandre Tremblay. Founded four years ago by Kathleen Desrosiers, a veterinary technician, Aikiou (pronounced IQ) is dedicated to stimulating the intellectual ability of animals.
“We were looking for a way to enhance the environment for dogs and cats, and use behavioral enrichment so they would have something to do instead of destroying things around the house, which gets them abandoned,” explains Alexandre. “Since we all know that animals spend a big part of their day alone at home, it’s natural to give them something to do and intellectual games are just perfect for that. Using food is also natural since it’s the kind of activity dogs and cats would get in nature.”
Aikiou offers several different mentally stimulating products to meet these needs. “All of them are based on enrichment but differ in method,” says Alexandre. The company’s interactive dog bowl features a variety of separate compartments that make dogs work for their food. “By turning the wheel of the main part and opening the sliding doors for the smaller sections, he’ll eat slower, have fun and stay busy for a long, long time.” The cat bowl, meanwhile, caters to your kitty’s love of hunting by encouraging him to use his paws to access food hidden in the many plastic tubes.
These products were developed by animal behaviorists. “They fulfill a degree of activity that would be found in nature,” says Alexandre. “Intellectual activity and food searching should be part of every animal’s daily routine. We thought that using mealtimes would be just the way to do that.”
Aikiou is involved in several additional animal-related causes. “Since our products were designed to prevent boredom for cats and dogs, it seemed only natural to have animal shelters benefit from our work,” says Alexandre. “Think about being inside a cage all day long. You either need something to do, or you go crazy and end up aggressive and destructive.” The company is also involved in educational programs that teach kids to be better animal guardians.
“Developing our products is a great challenge because you need to learn about and recreate a dog or cat’s particular means of eating in nature,” Alexandre says, adding that he especially enjoys watching animals use their products. “Dogs are so driven by smell that they go crazy as soon as they smell something they can’t see. It’s funny to watch.” And it’s clear the animals enjoy it too!