I’ve written before about WHY we use food puzzles and toys. I’ve mentioned a bit about HOW and even which food puzzles to use. Here, I just want to make a more complete list of the food puzzles we currently own and use, or those we love but had to “retire”. I’ll also rate them by ease of filling, length of entertainment, and durability. All links will be amazon for convenience, but I urge you to select your favorite charity and use amazon smile, or (better yet) find a local small business and support them with your patronage!
As a note: red, orange, and purple toys seem to get more use and attention from most dogs. Evidence seems to suggest that they can see these colors more distinctly against backgrounds like neutral colors or grass. Whenever possible, select some range of red or purple for your pup!
The Bionic Stuffer by Outward Hound . This is a wonderful toy that offers a good amount of space for foods. We use it with dry kibble and small treats that don’t leave a residue. Dishwasher safe, this is a super durable option for determined chewers.
- Durability ֍֍֍֍
- Duration ֍֍֍
- Ease of use ֍֍֍֍
The Kong lineup. Kong Classic, Kong Extreme Classic (for heavy chewers), Kong Wobbler, Kong Stuff-a-ball, Kong Genius, Kong Gyro… I’m sure I’m forgetting some of their treat dispensing products. These are the ones I’ve tried. And I can honestly rate them all about the same. They’re REALLY easy to stuff, dishwasher safe, fairly durable (the black rubber is more durable, but not every style comes in that material), can almost universally be used with dry kibble, wet food, or some mix thereof (the exceptions being the gyro and the wobbler). All of these products tolerate freezing for more of a challenge than would otherwise be presented. There is a reason these toys have been bestsellers for decades. We’ve also tried the wal-mart version of the Kong Classic and we weren’t disappointed in our purchase. It’s too similar for its own write-up. (* indicates that the rating varies between functions)
- Durability * ֍֍֍֍
- Duration* ֍֍֍֍֍
- Ease* ֍֍֍֍֍
Treat dispensing ball. This one is made by Starmark, which is known as a quality brand. Our local pet store has something similar for $2.50 and we buy several each year. They’re easy to fill with dry kibble and fun for the dogs.
- Durability ֍֍
- Duration ֍֍֍
- Ease ֍֍֍֍֍
Starmark Bob-A-Lot This is not a toy I own. I don’t really care for it as I’ve used several and I always found the lid difficult to manage. I don’t have a lot of hand strength and while my clients always love theirs, it just isn’t a toy I’ve had any success with. Still, it is a durable product that has ample room for a dog’s whole meal of dry food (a feat not usually accomplished with a single toy). I’ll try to not be biased and rate this one based on the reviews my clients share rather than my own very prejudiced opinion.
- Durability ֍֍֍֍
- Duration* ֍֍֍
- Ease ***** ֍֍֍֍
West Paw Qwizl, Toppl, Tux, Rumbl. These are on my list of things I’d like to get, but they’re a little more pricey (dog toys add up!) and I just haven’t invested yet. Regardless, I want you all to know they exist. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the West Paw line. I love that all four of these offer food dispensing opportunities, but the Toppl in particular can be stuffed similarly to a Kong Classic, frozen, and they’re all dishwasher safe! I know that the brand has other treat dispensing toys, but these look most likely to keep your dog entertained for longer periods of time. If you own or have used any of these, please feel free to leave a comment with your experience.
Additionally, I’d like to take a moment to rave about our new Super Chewer Box by BarkBox. (Both of those are my invite link. I get free boxes if someone signs up. Go sign up. It is totally worth it.) Not only has customer service been very accommodating, but every product they have sent has interested either my dogs or my client dogs. They’ve sent a treat or food dispensing toy (themed of course) in every box we’ve gotten so far. The squeaky toys are ridiculously durable and I’ve been very satisfied. This is a big reason why I don’t own any West Paw toys yet. I budget our toy investments and for the duration of our box commitment, we’re not investing in others. Fortunately, they’ve more than satisfied the desire to add to our enrichment cache. I think we’ll be well stocked at the end of our 6 month subscription. Which really just means that I’ll hide a lot of these toys in the kennel and continue to buy toys and claim that I “need” more. For work. Because it’s tax deductible for me.