If you're asking yourself the question - why interactive toys? Check out my blog entry Leaving the Bowl Behind.
Interactive Food Toys
There are a number of considerations when choosing a food toy for your dog. Here are a few things to consider before you make a decision.
Toys that your dog utilizes under supervision can be somewhat less sturdy. On the other hand, toys left with your dog while unsupervised should be able to withstand concentrated chewing and a frustrated dog's attempts to retrieve the very last crumbs inside the toy.
Here are a few toys I've found to be sturdy and typically survive most dogs' persistent attempts to retrieve the food inside.
|Everlasting Fun Ball: The jelly-like material is much sturdier than it appears.|
|Kong Extreme: Marketed for aggressive chewing, strong-jawed dogs. This is quite a sturdy toy and is frequently used by working dog handlers.|
And one that is less sturdy, but an excellent toy for less persistent dogs or for use under supervision...
|Tricky Treat Ball: The plastic is not all sturdy and can easily be chewed. This is a great toy for dogs less likely to chew while retrieving the food inside.|
Some toys are specifically intended to be used under very close supervision (not at all sturdy) or require frequent reloading for your dog to enjoy. All of the toys above (the Kong Extreme, Everlasting Fun Ball, and Tricky Treat ball) are intended for your dog to work on with little or no human aid. Here is a toy that you can play with your dog. The very popular Nina Ottosson line of toys fall in this category.
|Spot Seek a Treat: Requires frequent re-loading and is not at all sturdy - but great fun for and your dog together!|
Some toys work best when the dog has a little room to play with it; others are great in any space, including a crate. The Kong is a great crate toy, as is the Everlast ball. One of my favorite toys, the Kong Wobbler, requires a bit more space. I find that Premier's Busy Buddy Barnacle can best be enjoyed in a slightly larger space, so it's not my first choice in a crate.
|Kong Wobbler: Very easy to load, but best used in a larger space.|
|Barnacle: Can be used in a crate, but your dog can utilize more strategies with more room. This toy in particular lends itself to a number different problem-solving strategies.|
If you have no preference, no worries. Some toys work better distributing kibble; others are better with small treats or even a mixture of dry and wet. Premier's Busy Buddy line of toys seems to universally work well with kibble, though some of the toys certainly can be used with wet food and treats.
A good comparison is the Busy Buddy Squirrel Dude and the Classic Kong. The Kong can be stuffed in a variety of ways, but putting loose kibble in it is an incredibly easy win for most dogs. The Squirrel Dude is somewhat similar to the classic Kong, but it has small prongs in the opening that make it ideal for use with loose kibble.
|Squirrel Dude: Not visible from the picture, but there is an opening at the bottom of the toy. Inside the opening, there are a number of prongs that allow kibble to slowly fall out.|
Some toys are made of hard plastic and might scuff delicate flooring or make noise on hard floors. The Kong Wobbler is quite loud and can damage very delicate flooring. Contrast the Wobbler with the Everlasting Fun Ball. You'll find the material of the Everlasting Fun Ball very forgiving on floors.
There are a number of interactive toys on the market and more are appearing all the time. But if you are on a tight budget, you can improvise some nifty toys. Here is just one idea.
|Either stack the cartons or close the lid for a simple, home-made interactive food toy.|
|Vegas has unstacked the egg carton and is eating the kibble he's found inside.|