Most owners don’t realize that feeding their dog out of a bowl is the greatest missed opportunity they have to help their dogs’ be calm happy companions. That’s 2-3 opportunities a day - 14-21 opportunities a week! Instead of dropping food into a bowl and walking away, take 3-5 extra minutes are set your dog up for a stimulating experience that will leave them content and relaxed for hours.
This secret is one that all the top trainers and dog sports competitors do because they know it works, it’s easy, and it sets their dogs up to be the best. It even helps solve behavior problems list fear, anxiety, sound sensitivity, boredom, rude behaviors, and even aggression.
The secret is food dispensing toys! Most people don’t know that 15-20 minutes of operating a food puzzle is the energy burning equivalent of a 3 mile run! The reason for this is that the canine brain uses up tons of energy to figure out puzzles. Also the act of eating while working on a challenge reduces stress, anxiety, and other behavior problem.
Don’t let another meal be a wasted opportunity to turn your dog into the perfect companion. If you are the DIY type, you can make one at home right now by digging through your recycling bin and turning that plastic tub or water bottle into a kibble dispenser.
If you like to feed things like canned food, dehydrated, or raw you’re not out of luck. There are lots of toys you can make or are on the market that will suit your needs too. In fact if you feed wet spot foods, you can take it up a notch and freeze your dog’s meals overnight so that they take even longer to consume.
You’re also cutting down on vet bills. Slowing down eating allows for better digestion and prevents life threatening health emergencies like bloat. And for puppies it spreads out digestion with helps with house training.
Get creative. I highly suggest you have more than one. Variety is the spice of life after all and you want to keep your dog challenged. Below is a long list of a variety of different options based on type. Pick ones you know your dog will like, or get a variety to keep your dog guessing. Note that I have not suggested puppy materials as they are usually too soft and become dangerous as the dog gets older. You also do not want to start a precedent of being able to tear the toy apart.
Finally be sure to observe your dog using each toy at least once or twice to ensure your dog is not breaking off pieces or ingesting parts. Every dog is different and you might need to try a few before you find just the right ones but once you do you’ll have a whole different experience with your pet. I can tell you from personal experience - none of my dogs eat out of a bowl and when you put on in front of them with the option of a food toy instead - they pick the food toy!
Recommended Food Toys by Type:
Kibble Dispensers - These are my favorite. I recommend owning a few of these. In the same time it takes to fill a bowl, you can fill most of these and hand them off to your dog. Some are even customizable like the Busy Buddy Kibble Nibble because you can change the size of the hole. Check out some of these and if you like DIY there are some projects at the end of this list.
Busy Buddy Kibble Nibble Meal Dispensing Toy
Busy Buddy Magic Mushroom Meal Dispensing Toy
Busy Buddy Tug-A-Jug Meal Dispensing Toy
Kruuse Buster Cube
Kruuse Buster Ball
Kruuse Buster Cube - soft
Omega Tricky Treat Ball
Starmark Everlasting Fun Ball
Nina Ottosson Treat Maze
Treat and Train
DIY PVC pipe - Screw on caps for the ends and drill holes for the kibble to fall out.
DIY Plastic bottle or container - make your own dispenser out of just about anything in your recycling container.
DIY Plastic bottle spinner - take your DIY bottle to the next level with this spinner toy
Hollow Toys - These are great for dogs that eat canned food, dehydrated, cooked or raw. Freeze them for food toy level Master!
Busy Buddy Twist & Treat
Busy Buddy Squirrel Dude
Busy Buddy Barnacle Toy
Busy Buddy Cow-wow
KONG Classic - Red - for regular chewers
KONG Classic - Black - for tough chewers
KONG Genius Mike
Puzzle Bowls - Ideal for senior dogs, intimidated dogs, and dogs that guard food toys. All of these are available in different sizes to suit your dog.
Northmate Green Feeder
Kyjen Fun Feeder
Puzzle Toys (supervision required) - These are some of the best products to get your dog's brain working. However they are not for impatient dogs who like to slam, toss, or break. Keep your eye on your dog when they are using these puzzles and put them away when they are done. Don't leave them on the floor unsupervised.
Nina Ottosson Brick
Nina Ottosson Tornado
Ethical Pet Seek-A-Treat Shuffle Bone