Here are four of my favorite basic food dispensing toys for dogs. These food dispensing toys need very little input from you so you can relax with a book or a movie, and your dog can relax with his awesome toy. There are many versions of these toys, but if you have at least the first three of this list your dog’s mental stimulation is sorted.
Dogs are natural scavengers and scavenging for their food is very rewarding. These toys also offer some form of problem-solving which will tire them out in a positive way and help to keep them calm and relaxed.
The Classic KONG
If you only purchase one food dispensing toy ever, let it be a Classic KONG. They can be pricey but they last for years, especially the black extreme KONGs. These toys are dishwasher safe, which saves you a lot of cleaning time.
If you are going to purchase the generic ones there are a couple of things you need to look out for:
- There must be two holes in the toy, one at the top and one at the bottom.
- They tend to wear out very quickly, so do not leave them lying around in the sun, rain, snow, etc.
- Dogs with strong jaws end super chew powers that can destroy it in a day.
To get your dog started with the kong, fill it loosely so that he can get the food out easily. If you make it difficult, to begin with, he might lose interest completely. The better your dog becomes with getting the food out, the more difficult and more sticky you stuff it. Freezing it can up the difficulty level and is great for cooling off on hot days.
CLICK HERE for some KONG stuffing ideas.
There are many versions of this toy, it is usually in the form of a ball or a cube and you get different difficulty levels. Some of these toys have bigger holes or more holes, that would be the easiest version of the toy, and then you get the ones with only one or two small holes, which are more challenging for the dogs to get out.
If you feed your dog kibble, you can simply put his meal in the ball/cube and let him play it out. He can manipulate the toy with his feet or nose to get the food. It’s best not to put wet food in these toys because eventually the dog will not be able to get it out, and not all of them can be opened up to clean properly.
Another toy that falls into this category, would be the Kong Wobbler. It has a very heavy bottom so it can not be rolled around easily. The dog would need to manipulate the Wobbler to get the food out, but the toy balances itself back upwards as soon as the dog lets go of it. The dog has to keep in mind what worked before to get the food out and try to do the same again. Of course, randomly kicking it around will also dispense the food, so it’s a win-win. There are less pricey generic versions of the wobbler available too.
The fourth toy I’m going to mention is a bit more difficult and dogs who do not enjoy solving problems for the food will give up on this one quite easily. Your dog might surprise you though so give it a try. It’s called the Tug-a-jug dispensing toy. It’s bottle-shaped with a thick rope inside.
The dog has to manipulate the bottle as well as the rope, to get the food/treats out. Only one out of my group of nine dogs, enjoy this toy an he will keep at it for hours and just do not get bored of it.
Keep in mind that when you have a multi-dog household, each dog must have his/her safe space away from the others to enjoy his/her toy. If space is an issue, you have to supervise to make sure that they do not wander off to try and steal the other dog’s toy.