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Interactive food toys will improve your dog's quality of life, and yours too.

Updated: Feb 5, 2022

Part 1

A dog searches for treats hidden in the fleece shag of a Snuffle Mat
Molly loves her Snuffle Mat

Why use food toys?

  • An appropriate challenge prolongs the pleasure of your dog’s mealtime, and provides healthy mental stimulation.

  • They provide a healthy and legal outlet for your dog’s instinctive desire to forage.

  • Many dogs choose to relax after a good foraging session.

Tips for use

  • Dogs have individual tastes in toys, so you may have to experiment to find your dog’s favorites. It’s nice to have a variety and rotate among them, to maximize interest.

  • Toys that roll are lots of fun, as long as you don’t have furniture on legs such that they’ll get stuck underneath. In my house, we stick to toys that can be enjoyed on a dog bed or rolled around inside an open crate.

Shows a rollable toy placed inside a dog crate
A “Rumbl” toy restrained within a crate
  • Supervise and be prepared to retrieve the toy when it is empty. Many food toys won’t stand up to gnawing.

  • Start with easy toys and introduce more challenging ones as your dog's skills grow.

  • During the learning phase, fill the kibble-dispensing toys very full, so the kibble comes out easily. Once your dog understands how to work it, then fill with a measured portion.

You don't even have to buy anything (but it's fun to)

  • You can scatter a handful of kibble on the lawn and give a "Find!" cue (or whatever other word you want to use).

  • Lay a Hansel and Gretel trail while a helper restrains the dog. Then release the dog with your cue to search. Place the pieces close together for beginners; gradually further apart to increase the challenge.

In Part 2 we will see a variety of food toys enjoyed by my dogs.

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