Enrichment toys for canines are well-liked, and for a number of good causes. They are often nice boredom busters, serving to to channel a canine’s power into a suitable exercise. They will sluggish a canine’s behavior of consuming too shortly, thus serving to stop choking. And analysis means that canines could choose working ultimately to acquire their meals to consuming meals that’s available in a bowl.
One of many oldest enrichment toys in the marketplace is the Kong, first developed within the Nineteen Seventies when firm founder Joe Markham found his German Shepherd’s love of a discarded rubber auto half. The unique toy that Markham invented is now thought of a basic, simply acknowledged by its authentic vibrant crimson coloration and hole beehive form. At this time, Kong toys can be found in all kinds of shapes, colours, and sizes – and there are nearly as some ways to stuff a Kong as there are trainers to assume them up!
Whereas the Kong Firm is a pacesetter in innovating and refining increasingly more canine toys that may be filled with meals, many challengers have introduced different thrilling food-puzzle toys to market. One in every of our newer favorites is the Toppl, made by West Paw. Its vast opening is extra attractive for these canines who’re postpone by the tougher activity of getting meals out of the Kong.
No matter toy you employ to carry meals on your canine to unpack, the following tips will allow you to stuff probably the most enjoyable and performance into the toy on your canine to get pleasure from:
1. Get the precise measurement. I choose to start out my puppies with no matter measurement they’ll use as grownup canines, to ensure outgrown toys don’t by accident grow to be choking hazards afterward. And, for pups and younger canines, I exploit food-dispensing toys to feed everything of their meals – I solely hardly ever put their meals in a bowl. Any little bit of time that they’re totally engaged in a protected exercise is time I can use to do one thing else!
The purpose, then, is to discover a toy of simply the precise measurement, or a mix of toys of the precise sizes, to include their meal. This takes some experimentation, and is dependent upon the type of weight loss program you feed (kibble, canned, rehydrated, business uncooked, or home-prepared).
Traditional Kongs are available six totally different sizes, from XS to XXL. Toppl is available in two sizes (small and huge); the 2 sizes can be utilized as a pair, with the smaller one inserted into the bigger one to create a further problem (the canine has to separate them earlier than he can begin getting the meals out).
2. Educate your canine how you can get the meals out – and make it simple at first! When first introducing your canine to a food-stuffed Kong, it is best to make the contents particularly tasty and notably simple on your canine to extract; some canines lose curiosity if it’s too tough to unpack.
Let your canine watch you add a small handful of kibble blended with some small favourite treats. Excitedly shake the Kong earlier than providing it to your canine. Set the Kong on the bottom and gently manipulate it till a number of treats fall out. Encourage your canine to work together with the toy and calmly reward his success.
After he understands that shifting the toy round could make treats fall out, begin including a smear of peanut butter, creamed cheese, or canned pet food simply contained in the rim of the toy. Maintain the toy for him and manipulate it in order that he can attain all of the yummy goodness inside along with his tongue. Then reload it and put it on the bottom for him to attempt with out assist.
So long as he’s motivated to work persistently to get the meals, you’ll be able to hold rising the problem of the food-extraction problem with every food-stuffed toy you provide him. Subsequent, you may pack the toy with moist meals or a mixture of kibble and one thing like peanut butter or yogurt; these meals require a mix of licking and tossing or dropping the toy to extract.
Listed here are some extra methods to maintain ratcheting up the problem of the food-extraction problem:
If utilizing kibble or different small treats, add a number of bigger, oddly formed treats (reminiscent of dried beef lung or a big piece of biscuit) that may get in the way in which of the small treats and require extra work to extract the contents.
Tightly pack the contents into the toy. Don’t be afraid to actually shove stuff in there! I typically use the again finish of a butter knife to tightly compact the contents of the toys.
Put together plenty of food-stuffed toys prematurely and freeze them for an added problem and as a cool deal with on a scorching day. A bonus to freezing is you can put together a number of without delay in order that they’re all the time available whenever you want one. (Professional Tip: Muffin pans, espresso cups, or ramekins work nicely to carry Kong toys the other way up within the freezer as they set, particularly when utilizing liquid contents which may drip.)
Educate your canine to seek for treats and toys after which cover the food-stuffed toys someplace in the home.
Put the food-stuffed toys in a cardboard field or folded-up paper bag and encourage your canine to do no matter it takes to “get the toy!”
3. Be artistic and alter recipes to retain your canine’s curiosity and curiosity. Something that’s protected for a canine to eat could be added to a food-dispensing toy. Kibble, canned pet food, canine treats, recent fruits and veggies, meats, cheese, yogurt, canned pumpkin, mashed sardines, dry cereal, even choose leftovers pulled from the fridge all make nice elements. (At all times introduce new meals in small quantities to assist stop digestive upset.) See the recipes under for a few of my canine’s favourite “Kongcoctions.”
4. Make changes for canines who must rely energy or who’re on a limited-ingredient weight loss program. In case your Westie is watching his waistline, or your Labrador’s weight loss program is proscribed, stuff their food-dispensing toys with their common weight loss program, with the addition of maybe just some low-calorie treats or tidbits that received’t set off an allergic response.
Right here’s a tasty technique to enhance the enchantment of your canine’s ordinary kibble with out including too many energy: In case your canine enjoys peanut butter, whisk a tiny bit into scorching water and use the peanut butter water to coat the kibble earlier than stuffing it into the toy.
5. Preserve it clear. A fast soak in heat soapy water and an outdated toothbrush or bottle brush works nicely to handle any remaining meals particles caught inside. Kong and Toppl toys are additionally protected to scrub within the dishwasher (however use the highest rack!).