Interactive toys are a great way to provide your dog (or cat!) with mental and physical exercise. Instead of just dumping the food in a bowl, why not put the meal inside a toy that allows your pet to think, play, move and solve a puzzle? As the pet plays with the toy, food pops out. The more the pet plays, the more she or he is rewarded for playing! Interactive toys are great tools for dogs who become upset when you leave, high-energy or intelligent breeds, or during dinner parties when you want to entertain your pooch in the other room!
Below are a few wonderful toys for meal-feeding your pet. Simply place your pet’s treats or measured meal inside the toy, present the toy to your pet, and let the fun begin!
- To ensure your pet’s safety, always supervise play with interactive food toys.
- Stop using these toys immediately if your dog displays aggressive behavior toward you or other animals in the home, and contact an animal behaviorist right away.
- If your pet shows little interest in it, try putting tasty, smelly, small treats (such as dried liver treats) inside the toy to add incentive.
Here are a few popular toy examples:
BUSY BUDDY® TUG-A-JUG
Your dog must manipulate, turn and dump this toy to get food to come out of the end. This toy comes with a rope made of cotton or rubber that prevents the food from pouring out. However, this can easily be chewed off, so you may wish to place a ball inside to restrict the treat flow. This toy can be tough for some dogs to figure out, so they may require human assistance at first. Tug-A-Jug comes in small and large, and is available in some pet supply stores, department stores and online. When properly sized, this toy is very durable and easy to clean.
Probably the most recognized interactive toy, the Kong serves as treat-dispensing entertainment. Available in soft, medium and tough textures, Kongs are well suited for most chewers. Fill this toy with kibble, peanut butter, soft food, raw diet or anything your dog likes. You can even freeze it for longer-lasting fun. Kong comes in various sizes and is available at nearly every pet supply store or online. The small puppy size is perfect for your feline friend.
BUSY BUDDY® KIBBLE NIBBLE
This toy allows your dog to see, smell, hear and taste the food inside. He must manipulate and turn the toy to dump the food out of both ends. The holes on each end have little rubber “fingers” that prevent the food from falling out too easily, but this toy is much easier than the Tug-A-Jug. Kibble Nibble comes in various sizes and is available in some pet supply stores and online. When properly sized, this toy is very durable and easy to clean.
This toy requires the dog to use his nose and paws to move and turn the cube in order to get the food out. It can be very difficult for some dogs to use, especially when carpet is not available. If your smarty dog is able to figure it out, there is also an option to increase the level of difficulty of this toy! The Buster Cube comes in small and large, and is available in some pet supply stores, department stores and online. When properly sized, this toy is very durable, but can be difficult to clean.
BUSY BUDDY® SQUIRREL DUDE™
Squirrel Dude’s rubber “fingers” prevent food from pouring out, and therefore require your dog to pick up, toss, roll and flip this toy — plus its irregular shapes makes it bounce all over! Squirrel Dude is easy for many dogs to figure out, but can be chewed by stronger jaws. This toy comes in small, medium and large, is fairly easy to clean and is available in some pet supply stores or online. The small size is perfect for playful kitties.
ATOMIC TREAT BALL
This molecule-shaped toy is very easy for most dogs to figure out. Rolling and picking up this fun toy causes food to fall out of the single opening. This toy is best for non- or mild chewers and is the perfect size to carry around. The Atomic Treat Ball comes in large and mini sizes, is fairly easy to clean and is available in some pet supply stores or online. Larger, more energetic cats may love the small size.
BUSY BUDDY® TWIST ‘N TREAT™
This unusual flying saucer-like toy screws apart to hold treats inside, then dumps them out through the adjustable openings along the “seam.” This toy is easy to figure out and ideal for non-chewers, as the rubber texture is fairly soft. Twist ‘n Treat comes in small, medium and large sizes, is very easy to clean and is available in some pet supply stores or online. The small size is a great choice for cats.
This article contains just a few suggestions for interactive toys and is not intended to be an inclusive or exclusive list. Many other wonderful interactive toys are available — check your local pet supply store or search online!