I want to show you my dog’s 5 favourite food enrichment toys and how I prepare them!
Video version of this blog post available HERE
First: Why bother with making the effort to provide dog enrichment at all?
Part of raising a happy and healthy dog is allowing them to engage in their natural behaviours such as chasing, playing, sniffing, chewing, scavenging, and dissecting. Offering opportunities to do these behaviours helps your dog be physically, emotionally, and mentally satisfied.
As their guardian, it’s up to us to find fun ways to meet our dogs needs!
There are many ways to add enrichment to our dogs lives. In this blog I’m going to show you 5 of my dog’s favourite food enrichment toys and how I prepare them.
Some people make their own homemade recipes for stuffing Kongs (Google it and you’ll find plenty!) .
I WISH I was one of those people, but I simply don’t have the time. So personally, I use a can of wet dog food to make about a weeks worth of daily frozen treats.
With one can of wet food I make three Kongs and four Pupsicles. I give my dog a frozen treat most days, so this ends up being a week of enrichment with one can of food & about 10 minutes of prep work. It’s a really affordable and easy way to add enrichment!
(Tip- Using a baby spoon to stuff the Kong’s makes this way easier!)
To start, I scoop the wet dog food into the 3 Kongs. Make sure that you really pack it in because if it’s completely squished in before freezing, I find that the Kong’s last a lot longer. If there’s a lot of air pockets my dog finishes the Kong much faster!
After stuffing them, I just put them in an old takeout container for freezing!
Fun fact: if you were ONLY making stuffed Kongs, then one can of wet dog food equals four perfectly stuffed Kongs!
However, I instead use the remaining bit of canned dog food to make 4 Pupsicles.
How? I add water to the little bit of leftover dog food (fill can to ~ 50% volume). Stir it up, then pour that mixture into the Pupsicle tray.
Each tray makes 4 Pupsicles which you just pop out like an ice cube & put in the holder when you want to give your dog one. Pupsicles are faster to make, but I find my dog finishes them a lot faster than a stuffed and frozen Kong, so there are drawbacks.
Next, let’s talk about three enrichment toys that I just fill with my dog’s kibble.
I like using Neirah’s meals as enrichment when possible so that she gets extra enjoyment without extra calories!
1. Snuffle mat:
Some people meticulously place treats in the snuffle mat, but I tend to just dump Neirah’s kibble into the mat and then quickly spread it around so that the pieces are hidden.
Snuffle mats are great for allowing your dog to do their natural tendencies of sniffing and foraging, which can then help them relax and provides mental stimulation. I recommend this one from Amazon to almost everyone because the fabric is densely packed, it’s machine washable, and mine still looks brand new despite having it for years!
2. Treat ball:
This treat ball is a bit smaller, so I just put a quarter cup of kibble in it at a time. It has adjustable holes so you can make the puzzle easier or harder depending on your dogs skill level.
As they push the ball around the house, the kibble will slowly fall out and reward them.
Tip – Give this to your dog somewhere where they can’t get it stuck under your furniture! Otherwise you’ll constantly need to rescue it, and it’s not really solo entertainment anymore 😉
3. Snuffle ball
My dog LOVES this toy!!
It does take me ~5 minutes to fill it, but it’s definitely worth the effort.
The ball looks like this once it’s been emptied.
I take a piece of kibble, put it on the fabric, roll it up and squish it in.
It looks like this when it’s filled and rolled up!
It takes my dog a long time to unroll it all and “dissect” her dinner (which satisfies one step of the predatory sequence too! My dog used to be a notorious animal chaser including rabbits, squirrels, cats, and more. This guide explains how I trained her not to chase animals.)
My dog tends to not really chew her food. She eats very, very fast! If I am just giving her her dinner out of a bowl, I do make sure that it’s a slow feeder bowl. However, I actually prefer things like this snuffle ball because it takes her even longer and she gets a little bit of enjoyment out of it.
This particular toy is machine washable, so you can easily clean it in between uses.
I hope this blog has given you some fun ideas for how to easily add enrichment into your dogs life!
If you want to check out another useful toy, watch this video:
With just 90 minutes of training I had Millie running stairs all by herself with this awesome treat dispenser. It’s a great way of adding some extra exercise & fun into your dogs day
Happy training 🙂
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