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Treat Dispensing Toys

Treat dispensing toys are an excellent tool which can help you with a long list of dog training problems. These wonderful toys can help bust boredom, slow down your fast eater, build your dog’s mental skills, and redirect inappropriate behavior!  There is almost an endless variety of options which contain food that will entice and challenge your dog. These products encourage your pup to chew, lick, nudge, and paw in order to reach the hidden treats.



Food Stuffable Toys

Kong, of course, is a well known toy of this particular type, which is great for stuffing food into along with using for Fetch.  This toy comes in a variety of colors, each which tell you the level of chew they are built for.  Pale pink and blue are for puppies, then the classic red for medium chewers, Black for extreme chewers, and even purple for senior dogs.  


Between kong and their competitors, there is huge list of food stuffable toys for dogs with different shapes, sizes, materials and colors. Some have grooves, perfect for stuffing cheese, or peanut butter into for licking. Some toys are hollow, which is perfect for stuffing.  You can stuff your dog’s dinner into a few hollow toys!  Some of our favorite things to stuff into these toys are: Shredded cheese, peanut butter, pureed pumpkin, treats, kibble, carrots, blueberries, green beans, and apples without the core.  To extend the amount of time your dog takes to get the food out, you can freeze your toys! 


Trainer’s tip: Put your kong into a coffee mug before you stuff it. The cup holds it up so you don’t have to!

Pros:

· Most are dishwasher safe

· Huge variety, keeping your dog interested

Cons:

· Dogs can chew these up! If you have an aggressive chewer, do not leave your dog alone with these toys


Snuffle Mats

These are newer on the market, but are very interesting!  They are short pieces of fleece which were tied onto a mat. The idea is similar to tossing your dog’s food on the grass to make them take longer to eat it.  Snuffle mats are available commercially now, but there are plenty of different instructions online to teach you how to make one for yourself. Some of them have fleece, some now even have rubber!


The mats are perfect for dogs who enjoy scarfing down their food and tend to choke on unchewed food. Sniffing out and retrieving food from the mat helps slow down even the most enthusiastic eater.  These mats are also useful for keeping your dog distracted during times where they might get restless. Bringing a snuffle mat to the vet’s office may help your dog positively view the clinic!  They are also great to help prevent your dog from getting bored when you’re not home. Just fill the mat full of treats, and you’re good to go! (We don’t recommend this with aggressive chewers).


If your dog is gentle, or more timid by nature, they may need help learning how to use the snuffle mat.  Begin by tossing treats on top of it, instead of burying them deep inside the little tufts of fleece.

Pros:

· Most are washing machine friendly!!

· This engages your dog’s mind, since they use smell, taste and touch to find the food.

Cons:

· Again, Dogs can chew these up



Slow Feed Bowls

These stay in one place, but are designed to slow down the chow hounds!  Feeding your dog with a slow feeder may help decrease choking or bloat, something which can happen with dogs who eat too quickly.  They are usually a typical bowl shape, with huge bumps or a variety of mini walls within.  The design forces the dog to use the tongue to reach the food.



Pros:

· Most are dishwasher safe

· Works great with all types of food, kibble, raw, frozen or wet

Cons:

· Some dogs learn to flip them over

· They can be difficult to wash without a dishwasher

· Usually designed for large dogs. There are not a lot available for small breeds.



Treat dispensing toys

These are toys which need to be pushed or rolled to get the treats out.  They all have some sort of area where you load the treats or kibble and a hole where the good stuff spills out, if your dog gets it right. There are a ton of variations of these type of toys, but they are often seen as balls which your dog can roll to get the treats out.  You want one that won’t give out the treats too quickly, but aren’t so hard that your dog gets frustrated.   One that I recommend is the Kong Wobbler, which is shaped like a traditional Kong, but the top and bottom half separate, making it easy to load and keep clean!!

Pros:

· Dogs who love to play should really enjoy these!

· Excellent for replacing the food bowl, and making your dog work for their meals

Cons:

· These can be noisy! If you have hardwood floors, they could make a racket

· These aren’t designed to be chewed, or stuffed.


Lick Toys

These are considered a newer type of toy.  These are products that are supposed to be filled by a treat that can only be reached by constant licking, like peanut butter, cream cheese, yogurt, baby food or canned dog food.   These toys are often seen as lick mats, which are very popular for keeping dogs still during a bath.  They keep your dog occupied, licking up the good stuff, while you groom, trim nails, bathe, etc.

Pros:

· These toys usually have suction cups to keep them in place, which helps your dog to settle down without restraint on your end

· These can actually help your dog view bath time as an exciting and positive experience!

Cons:

· These aren’t for chewers. Don’t leave your dog alone with these products. A lot of them are made of rubber, which means they’re not as durable.

· If your dog tends to guard their food, do not use these toys, since they are often immobile.


Puzzles

Last on our list is dog puzzles! While they may appear to be a gimmick, we can assure you that they are the real deal!  These toys make your dog work hard for their treat, with the mind as well as the body.  Brain games are so helpful for keeping your dog mentally entertained.   These toys provide your dogs with fun and stimulation, which can be very helpful on a stormy day.

Pros:

· Great for all sizes! Even senior dogs, injured dogs, small breeds or handicapped dogs can enjoy puzzles

Cons:

· Some are very complex and your dog may need assistance. Begin with easier ones and work up to the harder ones.

· Some may have small pieces that you have to keep an eye on

· These toys are easily destroyed if you leave your dog unsupervised with them

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