Food enrichment toys for dogs:
Dog enrichment toys are brilliant for our dogs (and for us!). It is so important to keep our dogs’ minds active and mentally stimulated. Especially for our troublesome adolescent dogs and naughty puppies! Keeping our dogs busy on something constructive, like licking a lickymat, will reduce the likelihood of them taking out that extra energy on less desirable behaviours such as unwanted barking, digging and chewing the sofa. When used correctly safe toys like kongs can also help with crate training and leaving our dogs alone. Food enrichment toys are also excellent at slowing down those dogs that ‘wolf’ their food in one go. Our instructors have tried and tested just about everything on the market, so feel free to ask for their options if you are thinking of investing in some enrichment toys for your pooch.
Here are some enrichment products we love:
Kongs: These are durable and they have different sizes and rubber toughness to suit every dog. Blue. pink and purple kongs are suitable for puppies and geriatric dogs. Red kongs are suitable for most dogs and black kongs are suitable for those extra tough chewers that are likely to destroy toys. There are cheaper versions of the kong available on the market such as ‘Sumo dog toy’ however, these are usually less good quality and typically don’t last as long. Link here for size guide: https://www.kongcompany.com/size-guide-by-breed
Nina Ottosson Level 2 Dog Tornado: This is a brilliant toy for something a little bit more complex but not too difficult for most dogs. Be sure to show your dog how to use the toy if they are a little confused or becoming frustrated. I don’t recommend using the white bone shaped add-ons that come with the toy unless you are 100% sure you don’t won’t chew or ingest these. This toy is sturdy but definitely supervise your dog with this toy to ensure they use it correctly and don’t chew it.
Snuffle mats: These are relatively new on the market and are brilliant for engaging your dog’s nose and encouraging natural foraging behaviour. Sniffing really tires out our dogs and is a nice calming activity. Get a good quality mat to ensure small parts don’t come off and always supervise. If you have a bit of spare time you can make these at home using rubber door mats and fleece or scrap material but there are plenty of ready made ones on the market.
Trixie Dog Activity Turn Around Strategy Game: This is another classic dog enrichment toy. This toy is very sturdy and good quality. It is slightly more challenging and involves a bit more thinking on the dogs part… unless they employ a ‘bull in a china shop’ approach and simply smash the toy about to get the food out. Either way the dog is occupied.
Licky mats: Anything that involves licking or chewing is generally calming for dogs. Licky mats are versatile and can keep our dogs occupied for a long time. You can choose to spread on healthy options such as banana and berries, or you can use dog safe peanut butter but be careful of the extra calories! For dogs on special diets you can super soak their food to become really mushy and spread that on the mat. You can even freeze licky mats for a more long lasting game. You can also get them with suckers to keep them in place while the dogs licks. Be careful of dogs chewing and ingesting the mat though as licky mats are not that durable.
Always use your best judgement when selecting any toy or enrichment for your dog. It’s up to you to ensure that they are safe and happy while using their toys. If you have any recommendations we would love to hear from you!