Feeding time is a very important aspect of training our dogs that we often forget about. In most homes, dinner time is more of a missed training opportunity than anything else. But, let’s face it, we don’t all have an hour to dedicate to using every single piece of kibble as a training treat. Especially for those of us who have dogs that are eating 2 or more cups of dog food for every meal. So, how can we take advantage of feeding time for our dogs as a training opportunity, without giving up our whole evening of relaxing?
Using Puzzle Toys With Your Dog
The easy answer is puzzle toys! Puzzle toys are an incredible innovation that combine feeding time with play time and training time. The best part about puzzle toys is that you don’t really have to do any work. Just watch your dog go to town on their puzzle toys, and enjoy the show. There are a lot of different options for puzzle toys:
- Stuffed Puzzle Toys
- Feeding Balls
- Time-release Puzzle Toys
- Classic Puzzle Toys
- Eco-Friendly Puzzle Toys
- DIY Puzzle Toys
Opinions can vary from toy to toy. However, don’t let all of the options overwhelm you, it’s hard to go wrong with any of them. Just figure out the one you think is most appealing for your puppy, and give it a try. Puzzle toys will help work your dog mentally as well as physically. So not only will your dog be fed and happy, but they will also be tired and allow you to have more time to relax.
What does working your dog mentally mean?
When we train our dogs, they are learning. This works out their brain. The more your dog is thinking and learning, the more their brain is working. Remember when you were in school? You would spend most of your day sitting at a desk, learning but not really moving a whole lot. Then you would come home exhausted. The same thing happens to us now as adults. You spend the day at work, sitting at your desk, and still manage to come home drained. This is because our brains have been working the whole day. Our dogs are the same way.
A tired brain = a tired dog.
We tend to get very focused on meeting the physical needs of our dog’s energy level. This is great, as our dogs do need to be properly exercised. However, the mental aspect tends to fall through the cracks. If you’re dog is not getting an adequate amount of mental exercise and stimulation, they can very easily become a frustrated dog. Think about when you are exhausted and trying to go to bed, but your brain is going a mile a minute and just won’t stop. It’s very frustrating for us, and tends to lead to grumpy people. Dogs are the same. If they are physically exhausted, but their brain hasn’t worked, they will get frustrated and start displaying undesirable behaviors.
So what do we do?
Throw away your food bowl!
Puzzle toys can be your absolute best friend in stimulating your dog mentally. It’s easy to use: just fill it with food, put it down, and enjoy watching your dog work. The best way to utilize food bowls is to have a variety at home, and rotate through them as unpredictably as possible. If you only use one puzzle toy, it will soon become just like a food bowl to your dog, and lose it’s ability to stimulate them.
There are also some great ways to make your dog work for their food that don’t involve a puzzle toy. You can hide piles of food around your house, throw your dog’s food out into the grass in your backyard, even build some puzzle toys of your own. Have fun with it, and make dinner time exciting and unpredictable for your dog!
Dog Puzzle by Eddie~S
It’s a fire hydrant by Sherry J. Ezhuthachan