It’s a fact that most modern day dogs have become lazy at meal times. While their ancestors spent their days engaging their brains by hunting and scavenging for their meals, nowadays all they have to do is lay down in the living room waiting for their dish to magically fill up with kibble!
What owners don’t realize is that by allowing their dogs to become lazy and by ignoring their need to search for food, their furry friends can quickly become bored and destructive leading to countless chewed up furniture and slippers!
Add a Special Twist to Your Dog’s Eating Habits!
If your dog is home alone for a good part of the day, it’s likely that the three biggest perks of his daily routine are seeing you come home, going for a walk and eating his meal. If you are feeding your dog from a food bowl, your dog is likely drooling in anticipation as you prepare his meal. Then, once the food bowl is put down, the meal is wolfed down in record time. Eating that food so fast can lead to choking and even health problems such as regurgitation, flatulence and, in a worst case scenario, life-threatening bloat! On top of that, what a waste! The food in the bowl could have been put to a more produtive use to mentally stimulate your dog and give him a little more exercise.
Food Bowl Alternatives
Don’t put your dog’s food to waste by placing it in the food bowl and letting him gobble it down in seconds! There are several other options at your disposal. No, this doesn’t mean that you will have to unleash your dog and take him to the fields for a good old fashioned duck hunt, nor does it means you will have to let him go sniff a trail in search of bunnies. From the comfort of your home, you can give your dog the opportunity to work for his food as nature intended, giving him that mental stimulation he craves. Here are my top 5 recommendations for dog feeder toys.
The KONG Wobbler is a nifty little invention, you simply unscrew it, fill it with tasty doggy treats and watch as your dog rolls it all around the floor! Because of the hole on the side, when it is rolled over treats are free to drop out. This is a great way to keep your dog active and reduces the risk of bloat by preventing your dog from eating his meal too quickly. Two birds with one stone! The Wobbler provides hours of entertainment and is pretty cheap too making it one of my most recommended toys!
Einstein Says: Make sure the treats you put into the toy are small enough to fit through the hole in the toy otherwise your dog won’t be able to get them out.
Like the Wobbler, the classic KONG is a toy which your dog has to tip and roll around to get the treats which are hidden inside. The classic design features two holes, a smaller one on the top end which smaller treats such as kibble can fit through, and a larger hole on the bottom which can accomodate larger treats. When using this toy stuff the bottom end with cookies and top it up with kibble. The cookies will be harder to get out due to their size but are much more rewarding!
Einstein Says: Us dogs love mixing it up! Why not give your dog the Wobbler one day and the classic KONG the next? That way you will keep variety in his life!
Paw Hide Puzzle
The Paw Hide puzzle is a cool little toy where you place treats under the cups. Your dog will smell the treats hiding under the cups and will have to lift them off to get at the food! Be warned, however, that some owners have reported problems with their dog not being able to lift out the cups, or the plastic cracking which can lead to sharp edges. For a safer alternative see “The Muffin Game” in the Brain Training For Dogs book.
Einstein Says: If you use this toy, why not get creative? Instead of filling every single hole with treats, why not put them under only some of the cups. You can even put different treats into each holder to give your dog a surprise!
Nina Ottosson Puzzle Games
Nina Ottosson is well regarded for producing good quality dog puzzles. All of the toys are well thought out and built, from sliding block puzzles where your dog has to shift blocks to uncover treats, to the “treat maze” game which is basically a harder version of the KONG toy we mentioned earlier.
Einstein Says: Woof! I love playing with the dog twister!
Feed Meal Portions During Training
Instead of giving your dog his food all in one go, why not save a small portion of his meal for training? Using dinner portions as training rewards helps to avoid feeding your dog too many calories during the day. To put it another way, can you imagine how quickly you’d gain weight if you had your three square meals every day PLUS a bunch of snacks every time you did something good?
Many of the games in my book mix meals and fun together. My personal favorite is the “Treasure Hunt” game, but there are plenty of games in the book which can act as great alternatives to the boring food bowl. The book will save you a lot of money by teaching you how to create your own KONG toy and Paw Hide Puzzle using only household items, as well as many other engaging games which combine meals with fun and exercise!