If you are not giving your dog food dispensing toys of some sort then, in our opinion, you are missing out on a great benefit for both you and your dog.
Dogs were designed to hunt and scavenge and to work for their food—not have it delivered for free in a bowl, and these kind of toys are some of the most important tools to help our dogs adapt to a largely sedentary modern lifestyle. A dog needs to work to get food to come out of the toy by shaking, pawing, rolling, nibbling or licking the toy.
Here are some of the great ways that treat dispensing toys can help dogs.
- Satisfy evolutionary drives to chase, chew, and hunt for food, without destroying your home or furniture
- Soothe anxious or over-excited dogs by teaching them that self-control and problem solving is more rewarding that frantic energy.
- Prevent or reduce separation anxiety by giving your dog something else to think about whilst you are out of the house. Of course, if your dog is not a “foody” then it may not be successful!
- Entertainment during crate or downtime. Reduces the stress of confinement and boredom by giving your dog something to focus on and stimulates the brain to releases feel good endorphins through the chewing action which decrease anxiety and stress whilst promoting well-being and relaxation.
- Slow down food gobblers. Rapid eating can lead to serious health problems such as bloat. These toys slow down the eating process and entertain at the same time.
So, what is the difference between food dispensing toys and puzzle games?
Both types of toys release food and treats when the dog performs particular behaviours. Both are great for keeping a dog occupied and their mind active. The primary difference is that food dispensing toys are made to be chewed on and played with without supervision, whereas puzzle toys are designed to be used under supervision and possibly with help.
Puzzle toys are great for having fun together and they encourage dogs to use their problem-solving skills. They are however made from relatively delicate parts and hard plastic, which isn’t designed to be chewed on and so these toys are not safe to be used unsupervised
Food distributing toys are designed to be used safely without supervision. There are toys available for even the most destructive chewer and even if your dog does manage to destroy them, the rubber is designed to pass harmlessly through a dog’s system.
There are many different kinds of these toys available on the market. Probably the most well know treat dispensing toy is the KONG range of toys that can be stuffed with food or treats and left with your dog to keep him occupied. You can read about some of our ideas for fun fillings in a previous blog under the link
Puzzle toys also come in many varieties and you can even make your own cheap alternatives that are just as much fun.
How to Make a Cheap Puzzle Toy for your dog
As these are puzzle toys you need to supervise your dog if you want to play with these homemade games, but you are guaranteed to have fun whilst spending quality time together!
- Take a cardboard box or a biscuit or cracker tin and fill it with empty toilet rolls. Drop several treats into the rolls and let your dog work out how to get them out!
- A variation on this theme involves filling your bun tin with dog safe tennis balls and hiding treats under the balls. Again, your dog has to figure out how to get to the treats. Its lots of fun for your dog and it is also amazing how each dog has a preferred way to get those balls out of the tin.
Does your dog really love a particular food dispensing toy, or have you created your own home-made puzzle toy?
We’d love to hear from you!
Image credit to @Scottie_by_the_sea