Canine Enrichment Feeders We Love!
We started off 2018 by sharing 5 Do It Yourself enrichment feeders for Fido. This month, we’re going to tell you about our top 5 favorite enrichment feeders you can buy.
If you’re wondering why you should skip your dog’s dinner bowl and start implementing fun feeders in their daily routine, then here’s a quick recap from our January 1st blog:
“Appropriate mealtime enrichment challenges can slow down fast eaters, mentally drain overactive pups, encourage lazy eaters, boost confidence, develop problem-solving skills, and produce an overall more restful pup. Whether your dog is energetic or mild-mannered, he can benefit from mental and physical challenges.”
There are 5 things we look for when considering whether to dish out money to try a food toy for our dogs and for the Smartypaws Enrichment Library*:
1) Is it easy to fill?
2) Is it easy to clean?
3) Is it durable?
4) Does it have adjustable levels of difficulty?
5) Does it hold an entire kibble meal? (1 ½ cups in our case)
We’ve tried dozens of food dispensing toys available on the market, but these are tops on our list.
Smartypaws Top 5 Mealtime Enrichment Toys You Can Purchase:
1. Kong Wobbler – This is my husband’s favorite mealtime enrichment toy for pups because it’s quick and easy to fill. It also holds a full meal so it’s just as easy as dumping food in a bowl – only a lot more fun for your dog! It’s quite durable and not easily destroyed when used appropriately (ie. not used as a chew toy).
2. Buster Food Cube – I dragged my feet when it came to buying this toy. I just wasn’t convinced a cube shape was going to hold dog’s interest like the food dispensing balls or wobbler. It’s also loud and clunky when pups get to bashing it around the non-carpeted areas of our home. However, it is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Adjustable levels of difficulty keep our dog challenged, and I love that she is calm, content, and satisfied after the physical and mental stimulation of a Buster Cube meal. It’s not exactly easy to clean, but it’s other features make it worth the money.
3. Omega Tricky Treat Ball – I have been a long-time fan of the Omega Tricky Treat Ball. It starts out dispensing the food easily and gets harder as the mealtime play continues. I’ve always liked that pups can pick it up and toss it around, too. A bonus of this ball is that it’s soft and quieter than the above hard plastic feeders. Unfortunately, that can pose a problem for some because it’s easier to destroy if pup gets the chance to hunker down and chew on it. Cleaning an Omega Tricky Treat Ball isn’t exactly a simple task either, but I do enjoy the quietness of this mealtime.
4. Snuffle Mat – A snuffle mat is a mealtime “sniff-ari” for your pup. It’s similar to a shaggy fleece rug. You can purchase one off the internet or make one yourself. I love snufflemats because they encourage a different kind of interaction than most food toys. Sniffing and nuzzling are required to locate the buried food or treats. Again, it’s important to supervise and guide dogs when using this feeder. It can easily become a dangerous unintended chew toy if pups are left alone to forage and destroy. The snuffle mat is the only feeder listed that meets my 5 requirements! It’s easy to fill and gets clean with a run through the washing machine. It’s durable when used appropriately, and can be changed from easy for beginners to more difficult for proficient pooches. A whole kibble meal can be scattered throughout, too.
5. Kong Gyro – The Gyro is one of the newer additions to our mealtime activities. A ring surrounds a plastic spinning ball that holds and dispenses the food. Getting all the kibble in the ball and closing it correctly can be a little tricky. However, it’s not nearly as difficult as some other feeders we’ve tried. It’s not as durable as the Kong Wobbler but is just as easy to wipe clean. It also does not have an adjustable level of difficulty, but still makes for a nice lasting addition to our fun feeders.
Remember, these products are intended for problem-solving fun, and are NOT chew toys. Supervision is important anytime you provide your pup enrichment toys or games. You may need to guide or assist your furry friend to encourage appropriate interaction with these items, but many will catch on quickly. It’s also a good idea to pick them up after the food has been consumed so the temptation to destroy the dispenser is removed.
*Smartypaws has the only training program in Kansas City that gives clients access to a canine enrichment library! It is just one of the perks of our Elite Pup dog training package. Learn more here: https://www.smartypaws.net/dog-training.html