There are a large number of commercial dog food toys on the market these days and the range can be quite frankly overwhelming. Do you get the spiky one, or the one with the twists? How about the one that looks like a UFO or maybe a puzzle? You can be forgiven for getting confused or for maybe going slightly crazy while trying to decide.
I recommend rotating the toys so your dog doesn’t get bored and you keep them challenged. I also recommend a selection of commercial and DIY dog food toys to keep things interesting for your dog and to keep money in your pocket.
I have three dogs of my own and have had the privilege of looking after many others including puppies. I have tried a wide variety of toys, for a range of different size dogs with different ability levels so have put together this list of my personal top 10 dog food toy picks in order of my personal preference:
10. Rope and bottle toy.
This is an excellent toy for those dogs who are good at problem solving, have patience or who has never had a food toy before. To access the biscuits or treats inside, the dog has to tug on the rope which drags the biscuits out. If your dog is used to other toys where they have to roll them around to get the treat out of they may find this more difficult as that strategy doesn’t work for this toy. Great if you are looking for an extra challenge for your dog or looking to teach your dog about food toys. I wouldn’t recommend if your dog likes to chew rope as they may be more interested in that rather than the food and rope can cause stomach issues if ingested.
9. Cardboard boxes.
This may seem strange but these are one of the easiest, versatile and inexpensive food toys you can make at home. Save any cardboard food boxes (e.g. cereal boxes, cracker boxes etc.) and put food treats or your dogs biscuits inside and voila you have a home made dog food toy. One of the major advantages of using these cardboard boxes as food toys is you can adjust the level of difficulty depending on your dogs ability. For example if your dog is a pro at getting into boxes and you want to make it more challenging you can add scrunched up newspaper to the box and tape up the ends so they have a harder time getting in and finding the biscuits inside! Genius I know.
Please note: these toys should only be given to your dog under supervision.
8. Hide and seek muffin tray.
This is another simple home made food toy that your dog will love. Simply hide food treats of biscuits in the cups of the muffin tray then top with a ball. Your dog will have to move the ball to get to the food.
You can vary the difficulty here by only putting food under a few of the balls so your dog has to work harder to find where it is.
Not sure whether to get your dog a commercial dog puzzle activity? Well try this first and see how your dog goes!
7. Scavenger hunt.
Though technically this is not a food toy it is one of my favourite food games with my dogs and is very useful if you are running late or if you want a break from giving your dog a food toy. Take a portion of your dogs biscuits and scatter or throw them in the back yard or patio and let your dog go sniff them out. Depending on the distance you scatter and how good your dog is at scenting will depend on how long this activity can take but it is certainly slower than eating straight out of the food bowl.
6. Treat balls.
Treat balls are any food toy that is cylindrical in appears and your dog needs to roll around to get the food to dispense. I have the Busy Buddy Twist and Treat and the Kibble Nibble varieties but there are many other types to choose from. These are great because you can adjust for variations in biscuit size or level of difficulty. Plus some dogs love to play with these even without food inside!
5. Wobble toys.
These are any food dispensing toys that have a heavy base designed to be pushed or nudged by your dog to dispense the food. Examples include the KONG Wobbler and the Starmark Bob-A-Lot toy. The Bob-A-Lot also allows for the adjustment of the size of the dispensing space.
4. Bottle Toy.
This is another home made dog food toy that promotes problem solving skills in your dog. Your dog will have to work out how to get the food out of the bottles. I’ve seen dogs hit the bottles to make them spin using either paws or their muzzle and my dog Ruby holds the bottle neck in her mouth and pulls down to get a flow of biscuits out at once. Either way they have to figure out how best to get what they want and it’s fun. If you are interested in learning how to make one of these for your dog there are many step by step videos available on YouTube.
3. PVC Pipe.
Another YouTube idea that you can make for your dog using a few items that can be found at your local hardware store. Drill holes in the pipe that are slightly larger than the size of your dogs biscuits and attach removable end caps to each end (so you can re-fill). These are great if you have a dog with a strong jaw or who is a bit rough as they can take a fair bit of rough play and bashing around. I know this as our Rotti Zeus has one and he has yet to break it!
2. Toilet Roll Envelope.
Huh? This sounds weird right? Well this idea is the most simple and inexpensive of the lot and PERFECT for small dogs or puppies. All you need to do is save your toilet rolls, fold down the ends and stick some treats or biscuits inside and watch your dog have a blast playing with this toy! Plus the amount of fun they get out of only a small amount of food is amazing.
1. Classic Kong.
This was one of the first dog food toys we brought for Ruby when she was a puppy and we have been using them ever since. They are extremely durable and also versatile which makes them a must have for any dog food toy collection. If you are only ever going to buy one commercial dog food toy then this is the one to get. Plus if you have a dog with a strong bite or who is particularly rough or destructive with their toys you can get the tougher KONG Xtreme (comes in black).
There are sooooooo many ways to use this food toy that I’m not going to be able to include them all here and I could probably even do a separate list! You can put your dogs biscuits inside, add water and freeze, put wet food in there or wedge in large dog biscuits. Honestly the options are almost endless. These toys wash up well though I recommend getting a bottle brush to reach into the crevices as bits of food can get stuck in there especially if you are using wet food. Honestly I could go on and on about these but I’ll save it for another post!
If you are interested in seeing how I use some of these food toys with my dogs check out my YouTube videos’ below.
If you and your dog have a personal favourite food toy I would love to hear about it. Leave me a comment or photo below.