Dog’s need entertaining but sometimes we just can’t be there interacting with them all day so they need to learn to cope by themselves for some durations. It is also healthy for them to learn some independence and resilience, but left totally bored, they will find their own entertainment….and in our view they can be disruptive or destructive. So what better than to mix two of their favourite pastimes – food and puzzles! Kongs, Toppls and other interactive feeders can be great to beat the boredom, or provide their dinner in a more exciting format than just a bowl.
Kong’s and Toppl’s (and others) are rubber toys made to be filled with yummy foods and your pup has to work out how to get the treats inside. Being small, you can use for dinners, or something to do whilst you are busy, or even to help them settle and occupy them when out and about.
Introducing the toy
Dogs don’t always instinctively know what to do so start with some liver paste, or squeezy cheese on the outside top edge, and just inside, sit down with your pup and hold it while they investigate and lick the paste. Whisper sweet words to them whilst they are being brave and eating – make it a wonderful experience. Move on to filling the feeder more with soft mashed food that they love, and then place it on the floor next to you. Enjoy the moment. Once they are LOVING them, you can then freeze them to make them last longer.
Always supervise when they have a new toy, so you can remove if they start to destroy it (Kong have an extra durable option if needed), or help them if they are struggling. Kongs come in various sizes and shapes so get the right one for your size of dog. Toppl’s have a wider opening so are less frustrating for your dog – I personally prefer these for my girl. She also has the snake – comes with a squeaky head too!
If you have the ‘Classic’ Kong cone, there is a hole at the other end, and this is to avoid the suction effect that can trap the dog’s tongue so if you are going to freeze, stick a skewer through both the holes before you fill, freeze with it in place, and just before you serve to the dog, remove the skewer. Cling film around the feeders will also help to avoid spillage out with the runnier fillings, but remember to also remove before serving!
So now the important bit – what do we fill them with???
Raw fed – mince their dinner, squish it in and you can add chopped veg or fruit too.
Dry biscuit fed – you can soak their kibble in warm water until it is soft and fill. Again, you can add chopped cooked meat or veg.
Fresh fed – mash, fill and freeze! My girl often has her dinner this way.
Chopped cooked meats and cheese can be mixed with veg and fruit. Either mash, or mix with dog gravy (Bob and Lush sell sachets), cream cheese, natural yoghurt, peanut butter – WITHOUT XYLITOL, or even dissolve a tiny smidgen of marmite in warm water. Top with fruit, or a dash of honey. Mix sweet and savoury – whatever your dog likes!
Word of warning – change the recipes to suit your dog’s health needs such as no fat for pancreatic dogs, no cheese or yoghurt for dairy intolerant dogs.
Here are some recipe suggestions:
Small tin of sardines/mackerel in olive oil blended with natural yoghurt and some grated cheese. Stir in some cooked peas.
Put aside some of the dry roast meat (no cooked bones, or human gravy), sweet potato, carrot, broccoli or other green veg. You can just mash the veg and have the chopped meat as tasty chunks. Use dog gravy or the marmite/water mix to soften the mixture if needed.
Quick ready meal – suitable for no fat/no dairy diets
Buy some of the toddler squeezy pouches – you can get ones that are quite natural (just fruit, or Ellas Kitchen do veg versions too). Chop up some ham and fill.
Mix together peanut butter (no xylitol sweetner version), mashed banana and honey. Add some blueberries or raspberries for those more adventurous palettes.
Have other tasty recipes – let me know!
I also sell Toppl’s and other toys to my local clients – check out my Goodies page to see what I recommend.