In days long ago, many dog breeds had specific jobs to do, such as herding. These days, dogs rarely have to work hard to earn their food. In most homes, all that is expected of a canine is companionship. While some think that dogs should appreciate this, however the truth is that when dogs get bored, trouble often follows. Bored dogs can become destructive to their surroundings, and in other cases, dogs become too sedentary and become sick or obese. To keep either of these situations from happening, a good solution is to give your dog food puzzles.
Challenging the Mind
Also known as enrichment toys, food puzzles are available in many shapes, sizes and price ranges. You may even decide to make your own food puzzle. No matter what kind you choose, the one thing they have in common is that the dog will need to exercise his body and mind, before receiving a reward of a small bit of food. This job of searching for food keeps the dog occupied and gives him a bit of extra exercise to boot.
Ideally, it is a good to have several different types of puzzle toys, so that a large amount of the dog’s diet has to be worked for. If a dog has a big bowl full of kibble in the corner, he is less likely to be interested in working for it with a food puzzle. It is like free training. All you need to do is fill up the toy with food, give it to your dog and your dog gets physically and mentally entertained.
It is a good idea to begin by measuring out your dog or puppy’s diet for the day, so that you don’t end up overfeeding your dog. If your dog eats kibble, it is a good idea to mix the kibble with something like canned food, gravy or chicken stock to get it to stick together. Stuff your food puzzles and then if you like, you can wrap them in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer, to save until it’s time for your dog to enjoy them. You can give them to your dog all at once, or give them one at a time throughout the day.
The classic Kong Toy
is probably the most well-known of all the food puzzle toys. Puppies especially are fond of them. Kong makes a variety of different toys to choose from. Kong toys are hollow in the middle and are easy to stuff with treats. They are known to be extra durable, so they have a great reputation.
For homeowners who want their doggie toy to match their chic décor, the Odin
Dog Puzzle toy makes a great choice. Buy several and attach them together to add variety and change the level of difficulty. It works on the same concept as the Kong, the Odin just has a modern look to it. As a bonus, the manufacturers of Odin donate 1% of their local animal sanctuary, Pasado’s Safe Haven.
Tricky Treat Ball
Manufactured by Omega Paw, the Tricky Treat Ball™
is available in 3 different sizes. All you need to do is pour dry kibble into the ball, and let your dog be entertained for hours. Because of this, no preparation is required. They are a great option for dogs who tend to eat their food too quickly.
Time-Release Puzzle Toys
There is something a bit more high-tech on the market, called The Foobler
. This automatic, self-reloading puzzle feeder has six pods to stuff with food that are time-activated. You just set the timer and that is all you need to do. You are even able to sync it with your smartphone. It is large enough that you can stuff it with a day’s worth of kibble, for your dog to receive it throughout the day.
Create Your Own
- The easiest way to make your dog work for his dinner is to scatter his or her kibble into the grass. Then, the dog will have to use their nose to find it.
- Freeze pieces of food in a liquid like chicken stock in some ice cube trays. Instant popsicles for your pooch!
- Take a cereal box and put some treats inside. Tape up the ends of the box, and let your dog destroy the box to get to the food.
- Take a muffin tin and put some food in some of the cups. Cover each cup with a tennis ball, and watch your dog go to work.
Do you have your own food puzzle ideas? Share them with us!