Let's Ditch The Bowl
Updated: Nov 18, 2019
In my last post we talked about a couple of fun games to play indoors with your dog when they're feeling cooped up. So, what happens if you enjoy being outside this time of the year, but would still like to know how to get your dog's brain working more during the day? Then let's ditch the bowl!
Offering more mental stimulation for your dog does not have to be complicated or take a lot of time. There are so many options now to feed your dog his meals other than just putting it in a standard bowl. The most common option to use is a Kong. They come in a variety of sizes and styles to fit a wide range of dogs. Once filled, they can be immediately given or put in the freezer to make them more challenging. Simply soak your dog's kibble in a little bit of water or broth to make it mushy, then put the wet kibble in the Kong and freeze overnight. You can also mix dry kibble with a couple tablespoons of plain yogurt, pumpkin, or peanut butter. If you'd like to spice it up a bit more, you can find some great recipes here; https://www.kongcompany.com/recipes .
Looking for an even easier option? PetSafe makes a line of toys called Busy Buddy. They come in a variety of shapes and options, some even squeak! What makes these different from a Kong are their rubber "teeth" inside the toys. This allows you to put dry kibble in them, and the kibble will periodically fall out as your dog plays to figure it out. This cuts out the need to coat the food in something that will keep it together like you do with a Kong.
Or maybe your pup is already a pro with food dispensing toys like a Kong or Busy Buddy and you're looking to up the challenge. If that's the case, then food puzzles are where you'd want to start. These toys range widely in difficulty and are made by many different brands. Some of my favorites are the Brick Treat Puzzle by Outward Hound, Tornado Treat Puzzle by Outward Hound, and the StarMark Bob-A-Lot.
Now, I know this can be a lot to take in and dog toys aren't cheap. So, if your on a budget or have a creative side, some interactive food puzzles can be made yourself! One of the easiest options is to take a muffin tin and 12 balls (tennis balls, ping pong balls, or bouncy balls work great). Place a couple treats or pieces of kibble in each hole of the muffin tin. Put the balls over the treat and lay the tray down for your dog. Be sure to always supervise your dog to be ensure they don't chew or ingest any of the balls. This is a cheap and great option for your dog to use his brain to figure out how to move the balls to get to the treats in the bottom.
Another great DIY option is to make a Snuffle Mat. Snuffle Mats are essentially shaggy rugs that you sprinkle kibble on to and your dog has to use his nose to sniff out where all the food is. They're very simple to make and you can find a great how to here; https://www.petsplusus.com/pet-information/lifestyle/diy-snuffle-mat-for-pets .
All of these options are not only fantastic ways to give your dog
more mental stimulation during the day, but also great for slowing down fast eaters, keeping pups busy, and enriching their lives with us. All of these and more can be found on our Amazon Shopping list here;