DIY food toys make it easy for your puppy to work for their food! Throw away their food bowl! That’s what I learned at the puppy class I took at the SPCA. And it works.
Do food toys benefit boat puppies too?
- Enrichment In Every Meal
- A Puppy’s First Food Toy
- Playing With Your Food
- DIY Food Toy
- Benefits To Boat Dogs
Enrichment In Every Meal
I was intrigued. I’d used Kong toys before as a distraction or reward. But it never occurred to me that every meal could be an enrichment activity for my dog.
So I vowed to avoid feeding Honey from a bowl.
Unfortunately, an eight-week-old puppy doesn’t have the coordination or mental ability to figure out a tricky food toy. What to do?
I came up with some quick, DIY food toys.
A Puppy’s First Food Toy
I didn’t invest big bucks on a food toy for Baby Honey. I made our first DIY food toy from something I found in the recycling bin.
First, I put her kibble in an empty, plastic soda bottle. Although she liked playing roughly with the bottle when it was empty, Honey didn’t play vigorously enough to make the kibble fly out.
My husband found the solution.
He turned the soda bottle upside down and balanced it on its mouth. All Honey had to do was knock it over with her nose.
While she was eating the kibble that went flying out, Mike set up the bottle again. Honey was very proud of herself and enjoyed touching the bottle with her nose.
Playing With Your Food
My idea was to have Honey search for her kibble.
On a lovely spring evening, I placed kibble on flat rocks piled up in my garden. Honey had to watch her balance as the rocks shifted under her weight and use her sense of smell to find every bit.
She loved it and it gave her a sense of accomplishment. And it boosted her confidence.
This DIY food toy didn’t take any work. It was a feature that already existed in my garden.
You can same on your boat with excess lines or your coiled power cord. As your puppy steps around the obstacles, they’ll have to work to find their food.
DIY Food Toy
My recycling bin gave me another idea for a DIY food toy–a plastic milk jug.
I used scissors to cut openings in the jug and filed it to remove rough edges. Honey experimented with putting her nose into different openings to rescue all the kibble.
Dinner that challenges a pup and stimulates her mind–what a great idea! I’ll be getting rid of my old food bowls at my next porch sale.
Benefits To Boat Dogs
You can start feeding your boat dog from food toys at any age. But you’ll find it especially beneficial to start with your puppy.
Feeding your puppy from a food toy will
- tire them out
- build their focus
- give you a foundation for future activities.
Adult Honey loves playing with food toys. I use the skills she gained as a puppy to help calm her or to tucker her out when we can’t exercise her off the boat. Forcing her to eat more slowly decreases the danger of bloat.
And it’s fun. And doesn’t your boat dog deserve to have fun when they eat too?
Update 4/21/10 — Lisa, the volunteer who runs Puppy Kindergarten at the local SPCA, told this story recently:
Lisa also fed her dog from a soda bottle. One day she returned to the house to find the floor sticky, the fridge sticky, the dog sticky. Apparently puppy had gotten hold of a full bottle of root beer and did his thing!
The lesson? Be careful what you teach!