5 BENEFITS OF TREAT DISPENSING TOYS & FOOD PUZZLES
You've seen the dizzying array of treat dispensing toys at your local pet store, but if you're still not convinced to dish out your dollars for a few toys, here are some of the amazing benefits you & your dog will experience when you #ditchthedogbowl and start feeding meals out of toys!
1) Help Satisfy Heavy Chewers & Obsessive Lickers
Does your dog have an oral fixation? Chewing and licking are naturally stress-relieving behaviors for dogs to engage in, so it can be extremely beneficial for dogs who are hyperactive, anxious, or stressed to have something appropriate to get all that mouthy energy out on. Slather some peanut butter, nonfat plain yogurt, or even canned dog food on the inside of a Kong toy, pop it in the freezer, and let your pooch go nuts enjoying their "pupsicle." The frozen Kong route is especially helpful with teething puppies as the cool filling will feel soothing on their sore gums!
2) Get a Break from A Crazy Pup
Giving your dog their meals in a treat dispensing toy or food puzzle will give you a little break from their craziness. Which is fine! No judgement here. Even those of us who love dogs enough to have made working with them our careers sometimes need some me-time. Using treat dispensing toys & food puzzles ensures that at key times of day when you're at your busiest (breakfast & dinner time) you'll have at least a few minutes to do what you need to do without your four legged friend to focus on yourself, your family, your partner. Go water the plants, help your kid with their homework. The dog's busy for a while.
3) Build Confidence & Problem Solving Skills
This might seem silly to you if your dog is "just a pet," but at the root of a lot of problem behaviors are underlying problems stemming from stress, fear, anxiety, etc. Boosting your dog's confidence will help make handling some of those problem behaviors- like noise sensitivity, for example- easier to handle. Even if you don't have highfalutin goals for your pup, allowing them to build problem solving skills actually makes your life easier! A lot of what we do as trainers is teaching dogs to offer us behaviors, so that way we don't have to constantly hound them to do X, Y, or Z. They offer us behaviors like sitting, lying down, or giving us eye contact until they find the thing that works and gets them a reward (which doesn't have to be food by the way, more on that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xO5M3ALqMA0&t=2s). All we have to do is pick the thing we want them to do and reward them when they do it! However, if this is a new concept for dog, treat dispensing toys and puzzles are a great way for them to practice figuring stuff out on their own.
4) Strengthen Your Bond with Your Dog\
Some dogs will need a little help when you first introduce puzzle toys or certain treat dispensing toys that might be a little tougher, like this Tug-A-Jug toy for example (buy it here: https://www.chewy.com/busy-buddy-tug-jug-dog-toy/dp/48812). This is especially true for timid dogs. Helping them learn to solve these puzzles on their own is a fabulous way for you to bond with your dog. Plus, watching them learn and seeing how smart they truly are is super rewarding for us! The better bond you have with your dog, the easier life will be. If you just adopted a new friend, especially if they're a little timid, helping them out with some food puzzles & treat toys is a great way to fast-track that bond!
5) Much Needed Mental Stimulation
For me, this is the only one that matters. Giving your dog their meals through some kind of activity- especially for pet dogs who may not get as much stimulation as a performance or working dog home- will build in some much needed mental stimulation into their day. A lot of problem behaviors are simply the result of boredom, so channeling that energy into something more fulfilling like a tricky food puzzle or a new treat dispensing toy is a fabulous way for your dog to challenge their brain, engage their incredible sense of smell, and put everything they were born with to good use. You'll be shocked how much these games can tucker out even the most rambunctious pup! You can make them even more challenging by hiding treat dispensing toys in your yard or around your home, and releasing your dog to find them. They'll have to use their nose to find the toy, then they get to have a load of fun figuring out how to get the food out of it! Plus side for doing this outdoors- your dog gets to snuffle through the grass looking for the goodies.