Animals in the wild spend hours searching for food. Dogs and cats are hardwired to enjoy this behavior and studies have shown that when given a choice, all species prefer to work for their food once they know how, rather than just getting it for free. The best way to use food as entertainment and enrichment for your pet, is to use food for structured interactions with you during training and for playing fun games.
Measure out the appropriate amount of daily food for your pet. If your dog eats 100 pieces of kibble every day, that is 50-100 opportunities to reward for behavior that you want to see from your pet. If you like when your pet lays quietly, dont forget to give him a reward for even that simple act! If you reward a behavior, even laying quietly, your pet will learn to repeat it.
Then save some of the kibble to load food toys and puzzles so that you pet can stay busy and engaged working for his food versus instead being bored and chewing on your shoes and furniture!
The food toys and chew toys recommended below can be found in many pet stores as well as through the provided links to their manufacturer's websites and at other Internet retailers. The Kong and Kong Wobbler are available for sale at Deer Run Animal Hospital, as well as at pet stores and on the Internet. We recommend the Extreme Kong that is black in color as it is the most durable, especially if you dog is an excessive chewer. However there is no indestructible chew toy and supervision is required. If your dog has ripped his Kong, throw it away, and give him a new one!
FOR A QUICK TREAT...STUFF A KONG WITH A BOILED EGG!
FOR EVEN MORE WAYS TO USE YOUR KONG HERE ARE SOME MORE RESOURCES:
Kong Toys for Dogs & Cats This is a great video to introduce you to the great Kong product line for both Dogs and Cats. Providing multiple Kong toys is a great way to prevent behavior problems before they start. A busy dog is a good dog! Stimulate your dog's brain with a challenging toy!
Many dogs are reluctant to work at a Kong toy at first, especially if the toys are packed in such a way that food is difficult to remove. For these dogs, try layering the Kong toy to make it especially rewarding to work on. Simply alternate layers of wet food with layers of dry tidbits, then serve to the dog directly (without freezing).
just a small amount of licking to swallow the wet layer of food, the dog will reach a dry layer. This will make a bunch of treats suddenly fall out of the Kong. Jackpot! Usually this dry layer jackpot is enough to renew the dog's interest in the Kong, and he will soon begin licking and slurping at the next layer. After just a few moments, another dry layer will appear, and so on.
The Kong Wobbler is a little bit different. It is made of hard plastic and becomes a fun & wobbly dispenser for feeding an entire meal.Help your chow hound slow down his ravenous and rapid feeding for more enjoyment and better digestion. Make meal time play time! Click below to see the Kong Wobbler in action!
There are many other great food toys available that are variations on the theme of the Kong Food Toy. Check out some great examples below. Mix and match to keep variety in your dog's life!
SUMMER TREAT IDEA: The Frozen Treat "Jello Mold" Homemade Pupsicle: This makes a great summer treat! Fill a plastic container or Jello mold with water and add several different kinds of treats to it (different densities so they float/sink at different levels). Freeze it and pop it out for your dog on a warm summer day. Can provide hours of fun to keep him busy. Also great for excessive chewers that shred their rubber food toys.
From Sweden, Nina Ottosson's range of durable interactive games have been designed to stimulate a dog's brain while reinforcing his relationship with people. Each design has a unique mechanism that requires mental as well as physical dexterity to work through the challenges and reveal hidden food rewards. They can be set to differing levels of complexity, to satisfy all ages and breeds of dog. So whether you have a Forrest Gump or an Albert Einstein, there is a Nina Ottosson game design to suit every dog! Buy Nina Ottoson toys in the US at ActiveDogToys.com
Food Puzzle toys teach dogs how to problem solve while eliminating behavioral issues, increasing mental stimulation, and building better owner/pet relationships. Dog Games Puzzle Toys are an excellent way to challenge and engage your dog's mental needs that physical training alone may not provide. Learn more and see them in action at Kyjen Food Puzzles-more info and videos.
Puzzle Toys & Boredom Busters click this link for recommendations by the famous Karen Pryor Academy of Clicker Training. This site recommends some of the toys we have already listed but others too.
How about making your own homemade version of a food toy?!!
Try hiding food or treats under toy balls in a muffin tin.
On a Budget? Recycle and make homemade puzzle toys!!
Smarter Toys= Smarter Dogs! In nature, dogs have to forage for their food. Smarter Toys? allow dogs to work for their food and, in the process, gain healthy mental and physical stimulation. Essentially, the toys allow dogs to be dogs, feeding their instincts.
Click this link for a video demonstration of the DogMaze. The food is placed in the maze bowl, it then requires the dog to think, lick and move the kibble to get the food out, providing a fun, challenging activity for your dog at feeding time. The Buster Maze Bowl is now available in the at Amazon at this Link
The Green Interactive Feeder turns mealtime into playtime by allowing your dog to forage for his food. The Green is designed to slow down eager eaters, helping to prevent gulp-related issues such as vomiting, choking, bloat, and other digestive complication