Interactive Puzzles: two quick reviews
Updated: May 18
There are so many wonderful options available in the food puzzle department, also known as interactive toys. Some are designed to hold dry kibble and treats, while others can be stuffed with soft food.
I find myself frequently recommending two food puzzles in particular. One is the Kong Wobbler.
This comes in a small or large size, and is weighted at the base so it wobbles but doesn’t tip over. As a dog pushes it around with nose or paws, dry food falls out intermittently. This is an ACTIVE toy, and some dogs get quite enthusiastic about pushing it around. If he's too noisy or rough with it, put it outside in your fenced yard for the dog to play with there. If your dog seems sensitive to the noise it makes initially as it's moving around on the floor, offer it on a carpeted surface first.
For most dogs, it's relatively simple to achieve treat-dispensing success, so it’s a good starting toy for a dog new to food puzzles. If your pup seems confused, you can show him yourself how batting it around causes food to pop out, or you can smudge a bit of peanut butter or cream cheese on the exterior to promote interest. It's made of very sturdy, hard plastic, and I’ve not heard any reports of dogs destroying one. It unscrews at the base, so you can refill and also wipe clean.
The other food puzzle is a fake marrow bone made by Nylabone:
This is also very sturdy, resistant to chewing damage, even with tenacious chewers. Comes in a small and large size. The center is hollow, allowing you to scrape in some peanut butter or cream cheese on the interior walls. You can also moisten dry food, and then stuff the softened mash into the bone, or stuff with canned food. You can freeze it to make un-stuffing it more challenging. I categorize this as a CALM toy, because most dogs will settle down to lick at the inside. It's nice to use when you want to promote the behavior of lying on a dog bed while family is having dinner, for instance. It's easy to clean, long lasting, and safer than marrow bones, which can splinter. If you have a very tenacious chewer and are concerned about the hardness of this bone, ask your vet to weigh in.
Would love to hear about your dog's favorite food puzzles. Send me a photo! Virginia Dare is a certified dog trainer & behavior counselor with decades of experience. Her business offers live video consultations anywhere in the US for training and behavior help, puppy matchmaking services, and pre- and post-arrival counseling for new puppies. She also provides in-home, private lessons and behavior consultations in northern Fairfield and Westchester counties, western New Haven county, Putnam and southern Dutchess counties.
Please visit www.NorthStarCanines.com/services to learn more, or contact me at 804.784.0120
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