Whoever said breakfast had to come in a bowl?

27_dog_nash eatingIf you have a dog that has a hard time settling when you are away, or is bothersome while you try to have a family dinner, try offering him something highly rewarding, such as an intelligence or food distribution toy. These irresistible puzzlers will keep him busy and content while you have your dinner or get ready for work. Mentally stimulating as well rewarding, food distribution toys are a great way to challenge and tire out your dog, especially if you don’t have time for a long walk or game of fetch before leaving for work. Whoever said breakfast had to come in a bowl? Fill your intelligence toy with dry dog food the evening before and give it to him for breakfast. Your dog will love scrounging for his grub!

Here is a list of intelligence toys that I like, but there are many others out there:

Premier (now PetSafe) Toys:

1)     Twist and treat:  http://www.premier.com/View.aspx?page=dogs/products/toys/busybuddy/twistntreattoys/description

This link is to the Premier website and shows and describes the toy. I really like this one for dogs who don’t like noise, or are a bit unsure of new things. It is made of hard rubber and rolls around on the floor distributing treats, without making a lot of noise. You can make it easy or hard, it comes in a variety of sizes to match your dog, and it is pretty durable. All my dogs love it.

2)     Kibble Nibble: http://www.premier.com/View.aspx?page=dogs/products/toys/busybuddy/kibblenibbletoys/description

This is another treat distribution toy. It is made of bullet proof plastic, but is banded in rubber so the noise level is low. You fill it with your dog’s kibble and let them roll it around to release the food. It has rubber prongs on the ends with holes that you can trim back to make it easier for your dog if your kibble is large chunks. It distributes pretty fast, so the dogs are quickly rewarded. I will sometimes put treats in the kibble nibble so that the food comes out more randomly and it remains more interesting as one can smell the biscuit, but can’t get it!! Once again, my dogs LOVE this. Dogs who are noise sensitive do well with this one, especially if they have had experience with the Twist and Treat.

3)      Tug-a-Jug: http://www.premier.com/View.aspx?page=dogs/products/toys/busybuddy/tugajugtoys/description

This too is made of bullet-proof plastic, but has no cushioning plastic, so it is loud, but really fun! It is also designed, in my opinion, for the dog who is well acquainted with food distribution toys as it requires a fair amount of maneuvering to get the kibble out. While all of my dogs will play with it, Bingley is the only one who gets really on fire for it. If your dog likes puzzling things out, this would be good for him.

Other intelligence toys:

1)     Buster cube: http://www.arcatapet.com/sresult.cfm (enter Buster cube in the search box)

This is the original treat distribution toy and remains one of my favorites. It comes in two sizes, small and large so little dogs can join the fun too! (Our Shih Tzu loved his buster cube!). The cube has a central cylinder that you put the kibble into, then you shake the cube around to distribute the food into the inner chambers. (It can hold a surprizing amount!). The central cylinder can be rotated to adjust the amount of kibble that is distributed as the dog rolls it around the floor. Start with the easy setting so the dog is set up for success and as he or she masters it, make it harder. It is make of hard plastic, is indestructible, and loud on hard wood floors. Best if played on carpet, or something with a bit of friction so the cube rolls when nudged by the dog. (On slick surfaces, the cube will just slide along the floor and it needs to roll to distribute the kibble). The website above has the best prices on the internet, but you might be able to find it in a local pet store, be sure to call first! When ordering from Arcata, I recommend you call to place the order. The inner cylinder can stick sometimes, so you want to ask them to be sure to check and be sure the cylinder moves easily before they ship it to you. They are very nice about it!

2)     Everlasting fun balls: http://www.chewy.com/dog/starmark-treat-dispensing-chew-ball/dp/45444

If you live in Granville, Danielle Wilson carries these at Bath and Biscuits, and reports that they are durable as well as fun. She has a variety of other treat dispensing toys, so be sure to talk with her about your dog’s chewing habits and needs. Some dogs have soft mouths but need hard puzzles, others just need a lot of movement and durability. Danielle will be happy to explain her toys and help match your dog to the right treat toy. She is always getting in new things, so be sure to stop back often! 740-587-0011, 1616 Columbus Rd. Granville

3)     Kongs:  http://www.kongcompany.com/

Kongs are the industry standard for treat delivery toys, and the means by which you can stuff them is limited only by your imagination! These toys can provide your dog with a very satisfying chewing experience and give them something to stimulate their minds as well as satisfy their hunger. Start out by adding your dog’s dry food to the Kong and let them roll it around and play with it to distribute their food. As your dog gets good at getting the food out, make it harder by adding peanut butter or canned food to the kibble before stuffing the Kong. Then, when they really need a challenge, freeze it to extend the fun! Kong stuffing recipes are available at Kong.com.

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