Some pets are just anxious and way too smart for their own good. Many dog breeds such as terriers, chihuahuas, and other smaller types especially suffer from this problem. You may also find this problem in mixed breed dogs, or dogs you adopt from a shelter as you do not know their exact background. If your dog is constantly sniffing around, whining at you, begging for food, or otherwise trying to get your attention, you may want to get some food puzzles for it, so that it does not get bored and has something to do.
What are Pet Food Puzzles?
Pet food puzzles are simply plastic or organic contraptions in which a treat is hidden―or several, depending on the puzzle. Your pet then has to use his or her paws and mouth to get the treats out. Some dogs will figure out puzzles rather quickly, and others might be at it for hours. If you have a very persistent pet who doesn’t tire easily, or one that absolutely loves treats and will do anything to get one, pet food puzzles simply ideal. For these kinds of dogs, mental stimulation is far more tiring than physical stimulation, and a tired puppy is a happy puppy! But remember one thing; if your pet tires easily, gets bored with repetitive tasks, or gives up toys without much play, pet food puzzles probably won’t work well for it.
Types of Puzzles
KONG brand pet food puzzles are great starter puzzles for dogs, and a good way to test how your pet will respond to other puzzles. A simple KONG toy is a red, rubbery, bulbous tube, in which you can put KONG brand treats―which are made specifically to fit the toys―or in which you can smear peanut butter or another creamy treat your dog loves. Give the toy to your dog and it will have to lick at it to soften the treat and get it out. KONG also sells other puzzles that have several places to store treats in them. Then there are chew toys that are made of indestructible rubber. These can be stuffed with yummy treats that your pet loves.
Slide-and-find puzzles are great for dogs that have mastered the KONG puzzle, and need a new challenge. These are contraptions that have small compartments, in which you put several treats and slide a cover over each compartment. The dog then has to figure out how to slide the compartments open to get the treats.
If you don’t want more toys cluttering up your home, try playing ‘find it!’ with your pet. This is a homemade food puzzle, that requires nothing to play but treats and some imagination. First, make sure your pet is out of the room. Then, hide a treat. Let your pet into the room and call ‘Find it!’. Your pet then needs to find the treat that you have hidden. The first few times you may need to reward your pet for finding the treats, so it knows it’s a game. But after that, the treat they find can be the reward itself. You can even think of hiding several treats at a time to keep them busy for hours together.
Roll-a-treat puzzles are similar to slide-and-find puzzles, except that you put the treats into a rolling toy that has a hole in one end. The hole is too small for the dog to get its paw or snout in, so it has to roll it across the floor. As it rolls, treats drop out of the hole, and your pet can pick them up and enjoy.
Here is one you can make by yourself very easily. Take some sort of small plastic container, like a round cheese container. Make small holes randomly at the sides. Fill the container with a favorite treat of your pet. Get another container lid that is bigger than this container, and fix it to one side, so that it rolls around unpredictably. As your pet plays around with it, the treat keeps coming out slowly from the side holes.
There are other interactive food dispensing toys available in stores, like the Dental Stick, Wobbler, Twist n Treat, Kibble Nibble, Dog Twister, Dizzy Puzzle Toy Ball, and many more. A visit to the pet store would allow you to check them out for yourself, so that you can select the ones most suitable to your pet. So do your pet a favor, and get some of these food puzzles right away, and you will have a healthier, happier member of the family around the house.