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Meal Time Fun For Your Dog: 3 Ideas To Get Him Thinking Outside the Food Bowl

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meal time fun

Does your dog tend to gobble his food? Is your dog acting out because he’s bored and needs some mental stimulation? Here are ideas to prevent gobbling and make meal time fun for your dog:

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The “find-it” game

Most dogs seems to instinctually catch on to this game quickly.  Hide small portions of food at various locations in your house, then tell your dog to find it.  This will encourage him to use his sense of smell, will give him mental stimulation and some exercise all at the same time.

When I play this with dogs, I usually have them wait in another room with the door closed so they won’t see where I’m placing the food portions. It’s amazing how smart dogs are!

Puzzle Toys

There are many of these to choose from with varying levels of cost and complexity.  One puzzle toy I use with my dog April is wood and has small compartments to add the food with a little door to cover it when filled.

She has to sniff to find which compartments contain the food and use her paw to slide open the door to access the food.  Supervise your dog when using puzzle toys. Some toys have small parts that can be ingested and harm your pet.

When selecting puzzle toys for your dog, keep his/her personality in mind.  As this video shows, my dog April is up for a challenge and will work to figure out how to access treats in the toy, while J.R. stands on the sidelines watching.

He’s not really interested in toys that take much thought, he prefers the more straightforward ones, while April is much more open to toys that make her use her brain to figure them out.

Food/Treat Dispensers 

Once again, there are many options available here.  When shopping for dispensers, keep your dog’s size and chewing habits in mind.  Make sure your dog will be able to get the food out of the dispenser. If your dog is a strong chewer, look for a dispenser that indicates it’s tailored for durability.

Check the dispenser every few days to ensure it’s in good condition. Discard damaged dispensers.  Dogs usually figure out the trick of these dispensers pretty quickly. Invest in a few different ones to add variety and keep it challenging for your dog.

Consider the noise potential of the dispenser when selecting one for your dog.  If it has a squeaker that will drive you crazy or possibly damage your floor, look for another dispenser.  Many dogs are very food motivated and get pretty spirited in chewing a dispenser to access the food inside. Consider this before trying a do-it-yourself project for a dispenser.

Dogs usually look forward to eating, but these suggestions will add more meal time fun so they’ll love it even more!