If you're having trouble with crate training, dealing with an overactive pup, or simply trying to alleviate puppy boredom, this blog post is a must-read!
Keeping dogs mentally stimulated is a key to their overall well-being and trainability, and making them work for food is an easy way to provide this stimulation! By replacing the traditional food bowl and introducing food dispensing toys, you can give your puppy a fun and engaging challenge. This approach is especially helpful for fast eaters, puppies with separation anxiety, and those who need in-crate entertainment.
Oh, and these are fantastic for retreating to your room in peace for a long enough period of time if you haven't had any "intimate time" since getting your dog… (sorry, it had to be mentioned).
EASY AMUSEMENT: SNUFFLE MATS & SLOW FEEDERS
Snuffle mats are common tools used by breeders to facilitate weaning and playtime for puppies. Work up to serving a full dinner by beginning by concealing some top-value treats in this mat. High-quality kibble can be placed on the mat to limit your dog's eating, keep them occupied in a crate or pen and teach your puppy or dog to hunt for food. The majority of LierChonPoo dogs & puppies have experienced one of these possibilities:
Small Snuffle Mat: This mat is portable and reasonably priced. Both puppies and adults can use it.
Medium Snuffle and Play Mat: We adore this medium mat since it has several areas to hide meals and treats for larger breeds, households with multiple little dogs, or an entire litter. We also appreciate the simple washing and suggest doing so once a week.
Slow feeders: Although similar to snuffle mats, slow feeders are intended to slow down a rapid eater and do not provide the same stimulation level. You can maximize the slow feeder's fun value by combining your kibble with top-quality wet food that takes a lot longer to consume when distributed on the feeder's walls.
LEVEL 2: SNOOPS
Snoops are marketed as an interactive treat dispensers, but we frequently use them as bowls to feed & occupy puppies by filling them with a combination of kibble and other food. Due to their simpler manipulation by the puppy, we start snoops before feeding in Kongs. You can buy the smiley face insert to make it more challenging, but we've found it's simpler to stuff food and bulkier parts into the hole to increase the difficulty. To introduce these, we will combine a little kibble with a few high-value treats. Once the dog is familiar, we'll switch out the rewards for chunkier bits of cooked chicken or jerky that are harder to get to. The difficulty can be raised by filling the Hole in the bottom with treats or kibble or adding items like peanut butter or plain yogurt inside. We appreciate that Snoops are covered in mint oil to help keep breath fresh and that they can be put in the dishwasher on the top rack. Our young dogs will play with these for twenty to thirty minutes, providing us with times as we tidy up around them, run errands, etc.
Level 3: KONGS
Possibly the Kong is the most well-liked "work for food" toy available. In order to keep pups clean & stuff, you should start them off with the little binkie Kong and purchase the multi-pack. Go up to the medium as your puppy develops and matures (or to feed complete meals). We have written a full blog post HERE about stuffing the Kong from the simplest to the most complex. We will reiterate that the Kong is an excellent tool for rewarding and entertaining puppies in crates, as well as for making them work for their food.
Level 4: PUZZLES & INTERACTIVE TOYS
It is uncommon for us to serve an entire meal in one of theses toys or puzzles, but it is possible if you give your dog a high-calorie kibble like PawTree.
Although our dogs love the Bob-A-Lot Interactive Dog Toy & the Tug-A-Jug, we utilize them sparingly because they can be challenging to clean and are truly only appropriate for kibble or treats. Depending on how the dog learns to give the treats, they may also be noisy.
Again, if you use these frequently, ensure you only use top-quality treats with one component and account for these calories to prevent your puppy or dog from becoming overweight.
Puzzle Toys are entertaining as well, but with certain cautions. With these kinds of toys, you MUST watch over dogs & puppies because the majority of them feature bits that, if handled carelessly, can be chewed and even eaten. They can be challenging to clean as well.
Lick Mats: Our pups and dogs also love these well-liked lick mats. Typically, we only use these on occasions when we want to treat and amuse the dogs for a while. If you're going to use these mats effectively, you must discover a mixture to distribute on the mat that is nutritious and tempting to your dog. Various ideas are covered in the Kong stuffing section also apply here.
For our dogs, we take it a step further and store these fully prepared in the freezer: natural peanut butter combined with plain greek yogurt, pureed pumpkin mixed with peanut butter or yogurt, Ollie dog food spread & re-frozen, or Ollie mixed with yogurt.
We hope you found this post helpful and will let us know what is effective and what doesn't.
Remember that any toy or bowl that doesn't support your pet's entertainment can be donated to your neighborhood shelter for a needy dog, so trying new things is never a waste. Please also check out our post on keeping your pup occupied!
Many puppy owners complain that their dog is a fussy eater, but more often than not, we've discovered that the owner may be half (or more) of the problem). If owners are not careful, they may find themselves physically feeding their dog fillet mignon from their hands without even realizing what is going on. A finicky eater is incredibly simple to produce if you're not attentive.
Try these suggestions before you categorize your dog or puppy as a finicky eater:
Now that we've discussed some of the causes of lack of appetite, here are the steps you should take (in order) before giving your dog treats, changing food or hand feeding:
I have volunteered in our community shelters for 30+ years, and during that time, I have never encountered a picky eater or a canine that starved themselves to death. Try not to worry or become fixated on your dog's feeding patterns. Take these steps and consult with your vet to create a feeding routine for them that doesn't involve them actually eating out of your hand
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