Brain Busters: Feeding with a Food Puzzle

As much as we might like to spend several hours a day making sure that our dogs get plenty of mental and physical exercise, we often aren’t able to devote as much time as we’d like to our beloved pets due to work, relationships, etc.

If you’re constantly scrambling to squeeze in a short trick training session before cooking dinner or keep hitting snooze on the alarm because you’re struggling to get up an hour early to take your dog out for a long walk before work, you might want to consider purchasing several food puzzles.

Food puzzles range from a simple Kong to more complex items such as the slow feeder bowl or the wooly snuffle mat. If you’re constantly running around and you feel as if you’re slacking on giving your dog some much-needed mental exercise, feeding them through a food puzzle will give them something to do other than laying on the couch napping the day away or constantly barking at squirrels and driving your neighbors crazy while you are at work.

For dog owners, keeping your pooch occupied and quiet while you’re gone will keep your neighbors happy. After all, who wants to have to constantly argue with your neighbors about how loud your dog is? No one has time for that, especially in our busy society!

For dog owners who are going out on a date or have a social engagement where you won’t be gone for more than an hour or so, you can keep your dog entertained by putting their meal or a light snack inside of a Kong . You can either stuff the Kong with different food—such as kibble or their wet food, peanut butter, and Easy Cheese before giving it to your pooch right before you leave. You can even try freezing the food inside to help the Kong last a little longer.

For work days, you can use a slow feeder both for both breakfast and dinner. Not only will it help prevent bloat, but it’s also a good way to help your dog keep busy while you are not home. Just like the regular Kong, you can also prepare your dog’s breakfast and dinner the day before and pop it in the freezer before giving it to them the next day for a bit of an extra challenge.

The slow feeder bowls run from very simple to more challenging. For dogs who are new to food puzzle toys, you can always purchase one with less nooks and crannies so they won’t get too frustrated before purchasing a slow feeder bowl with a more difficult design after they’ve gotten the hang of it.

However, if your dog doesn’t eat wet food, another good food puzzle toy is the Kong Wobbler or the StarMark Bob-A-Lot. You can put their kibble into the toy and give it to them before you leave. Not only will your pooch have to figure out how to get the kibble out in order to eat breakfast, but they’ll be so worn out from trying to use the toy that they won’t be bouncing off of the walls with pent-up energy when you return home from work.

If you really want to give your dog a mental workout, you can also purchase a snuffle mat and hide a few treats before leaving for work or when you get home. Since your pooch will have to use both their nose and brain to figure out where the treats are hidden, it will be even more of a mental workout and they should be tired after about 10 to 15 minutes.

Food puzzle toys are also a great way to pass the time on a rainy day too. I myself have noticed that if I hide a few pieces of freeze-dried chicken treats into Zoe’s seek-a-treat shuffle board , after about five to 10 minutes, she’s noticeably tired and less reactive on walks.

Regardless of which food puzzle toys you decide to purchase, they will help give your dogs a mental workout while you’re gone and will also give them something to look forward to when you’re out and about.

About the Author:

Amanda Ferris is an accomplished writer who has written for sites such as TheThings, IndieReader, Fashion&Style, and New York Family. For the past five years, she has volunteered for Bay Ridge, Brooklyn’s very own Love Wanted Pet Adoptions. She currently owns a laid-back 12-year old Bichon Frise named Esme, and a 3-year-old fearful mystery mutt named Zoe whose noise phobia and anxiety sparked her foray into the world of positive reinforcement dog training.

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