5 Awesome Food Puzzle Toys to Boost Your Puppy’s Meals

5 Awesome Food Puzzle Toys to Boost Your Puppy’s Meals

Are you feeding your puppy in the best way? I’m not suggesting that you serve your dog’s dinner on a silver platter; just the opposite. I want you to stop using a bowl to feed your dog altogether. Zoos have enrichment programs for their animals; the keepers put items into enclosures that the animals have to manipulate or destroy to get to the food. Unfortunately, this has not yet become common practice with pet owners; we dump the food in a bowl and consider it a job well done. Solving puzzle toys helps to build your pup’s confidence and independence. It can also calm them down and tire them out. And as any puppy owner knows, a sleeping puppy is the holy grail! So here are my (and my dog’s) favourite puzzle toys that make every mealtime an adventure.

Snuffle Mats

These are small rubber mats with pieces of fabric tied onto them. You then scatter kibble into the ruffles on the mat, and your pup forages through it all to find the treats.

Pro tip: When your pup has zoomies or is playing up, shake some dried parmesan onto the mat for them to hoover up. it should calm them down fairly quickly (Minimum food, maximum reward).

You can find a whole array of Snuffle Mats on Etsy.

Stuffable Toys

While I doubt any dog owner out there hasn’t heard of Kong many other stuffable dog toys are available. Our favourite are K9 Connectables.

I discovered the company years ago at Crufts, and then I think I almost bought up all their stock at a Victoria Stilwell Dog Behaviour Conference. They’ve had a constant stream of new products in the last few years.

As the name suggests, the toys are connected together once stuffed with food. Your pup has to pull them apart again to get the food. The connections can have their difficulty increased as your dog’s ability grows.

Once stuffed, you can freeze them for an added level of difficulty, and in the summer, it makes for a cooling treat.

Kibble Dispensers

These devices get filled with kibble, sealed up, and as your pup moves them around, kibble falls out of holes.

We have two kibble dispensers, one is a Kong Wobbler, and the other is a K9 Kibble Connector.

I would say the Wobbler is Kimber’s favourite when used in isolation, but you can stick other K9 toys (stuffed with wet food) onto the Connector, which creates a whole new level of fun!

Shiba Inu Puppy browsing the internet with owners | Food Puzzle Toys | For Pup's Sake

LickiMats

Kimber LOVES LickiMats. They’re silicon mats with ridges and bumps, and you smear wet food through them. Your pup then simply licks up the food from the grooves.

Smear peanut butter (get a 100% peanut one – do NOT pay a premium for ‘doggy peanut butter’ that has a whole load of crap added), natural yoghurt, or squeezy cheese onto the mats for an excellent post-walk snack which will also help to calm them down. And LickiMats are another toy you can try freezing.

We have many of these mats, but Kimber’s absolute favourite is the Wobble. While he usually enjoys the challenge, when feeling lazy, he’s learned he can put the Wobble on top of his snuffle mat to stop it from moving!

Slow-Feeder Bowls

There’s not much for your pup to figure out with these; they’re bowls with built-in obstacles that slow down eating. Great if your dog usually just inhales their food.

I mix the wet food up with the kibble and use the bowls in the mornings when Kimber gets picked up early for doggy daycare, and there’s a bit less time for him to play with his food.

They’re also perfect if your pup has to wear a cone of shame and can’t manipulate other toys very well.

Outward Hound has a great range of Slow-Feeder Bowls on Amazon.

“They’ll learn to love foraging
around for their food”

Every mealtime can be different and exciting. And you can mix it up, kibble in a snuffle mat and wet food on a LickiMat or mixed together in a stuffable toy and some in a slow-feeder. Now you have no excuses.

Just remember to monitor your pup at all times with any toys (food-based or otherwise), and be ready to help out if they look like they might be getting frustrated.

Share pictures of your pup enjoying an enriching mealtime with the hashtag #DitchTheBowl, and be sure to tag us at @forpupssake_uk on Instagram and Twitter.

Sharon Jennings

Sharon is a VSA-Certified Dog Trainer. She graduated, with distinction, from Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training and Behaviour in 2016. Sharon lives in West London with her beagle, Kimber, who she has had since he was a puppy. He was a troublesome pup, and was the reason that Sharon decided to become a trainer.

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