November 17, 2010Bring It On: Nina Ottosson’s Tornado

Recently a representative for The Company of Dogs, which distributes Nina Ottosson toys, sent Mingus and Dottie the Tornado and asked if we’d like to give it a try. You’ve probably seen Nina Ottosson’s toys before: They’re really well-designed brain games for dogs that exercise dogs’ critical thinking and investigative skills.

The Tornado is comprised of four stacked bone-shaped wheels with treat compartments that rotate on a central axis. The idea is to hide treats in the layered bones and have your dog figure out how to spin the bones to find the treats. Ottosson gives the Tornado a skill level of “hard,” and I assume that if you’re a dog, it probably is.

One thing I really like about the Tornado is it gives you several options for exploratory play with your dog: the game includes removable plastic bones to increase the difficulty level for your especially brainy pooch. It’s made of sturdy, durable plastic – which is good, because soon enough Mingus would be batting it around the floor with his paws.

The Tornado comes with a instructional DVD that provides directions for use and ideas for interactive games — but I’m really one to jump right into things rather than waste time on instructions. So I grabbed some treats and dove right in.

I decided to give Dottie the first shot at the Tornado. While many pet parents are quick to laud the intelligence of their dogs, I will freely admit that when it comes to brains, Dottie is decidedly average. Once she picked up on the basic idea of the game, though, she caught on pretty quickly to the idea of turning the wheels to uncover the treats. I have to say I was pretty proud.

Mingus got the second go at the Tornado. While Dottie has to rely a lot on her looks to get by, Mingus is smart enough to build bombs. Your boy is scary smart. And while Dottie relied on that giant schnoz of hers to root out the treats, Mingus got into it with both snout and paws.

While he didn’t seem overly challenged by the Tornado, Mingus definitely enjoyed it. Here’s a video of his second go at it. (Don’t listen to my voice. It’s stupid.)

Next time we play, I’m going to try the removable bone treat-hiders out on Mingus. I think he’s ready.

Watching the pups enjoy the Tornado definitely makes me eager to try more of Nina Ottosson’s toys. The Tornado is also dishwasher-safe, which is great, ’cause that thing is totally covered with slobber.

You can fetch a Tornado (or other Ottosson toys) all over the interwebs.

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  1. Ashley’s avatar

    I’ve been trying to convince my mom to purchase a Nina Ottosson toy for Pru for a Christmas present. I dare say this post may help my “but it’s educational!” argument :)

  2. rebecca’s avatar

    mingy looks JUST like what boone would with that…. love the pawing. oh – and this WILL be under the christmas tree for boone! :)

  3. Helen’s avatar

    We are planning to get Spike and Dru some of these for Christmas. We’ve seen such great things about them and it’s good to see even the “average” dog can figure it out (Spike’s a lover not so much a thinker).

    And your voice is far from stupid!

  4. Peaches’s avatar

    Mingus could solve our economic problems if someone would just give him a chance!

    I like this toy. Do you think a pug with a stubby neck could stand up and be able to play with the top level of this toy?

  5. Kim’s avatar

    Hmmm, I might have to try this out for my dog Oscar. He’s the most inquisitive of my three and the youngest so, more energy as well. Good idea – dogs need stimulation and like to have something to do. I’ll just need to find the right treat – Oscar is sooo picky!

  6. Lori @ According to Gus’s avatar

    Great review…especially the video. We’ve tried several differnt puzzle toys for Gus, but he gets so impatient. This one looks interesting though…he’d get immediate satisfaction by being able to move the layers. This might be a holiday gift this year!

  7. phetched’s avatar

    Great question, Peaches! The Tornado stands at just 4 inches tall, so I think it’s suitable for any but the very smallest of pups. And yes, Mingus is smart enough to solve many of our world’s problems, but unfortunately he only uses his powers for evil.

    Thanks for the great comments, everybody! :D

  8. Rhonda’s avatar

    I’ve heard a lot about the Nina Ottosson toys. I just picked up the Dog Brick game yesterday at a local pet supply store. I’m anxious to see my two doggies play with it, but I’m saving it for Christmas! :-)

  9. Lauren’s avatar

    Great minds think alike! I just bought this for Tucker yesterday from PetSmart bc they had it 25% off. Its his first Christmas (with me, at least*) and his my first dog, so I am already aware that the presents will be a bit ridiculous. I can’t wait to see him figure it out!

    Tip: I read somewhere that you can put peanut butter, or chicken broth in and FREEZE it. Keep em busy even longer, and great for the summer.

    *He was sick over last Christmas (kennel cough-yea he didnt come from a good place), so he was held there over Christmas and New Years bc they wouldnt release a sick puppy. I finally got him home in January.

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