Treat-Dispensing Toys Are a Reward for Both of You
Every pet parent wants their pets, aka kids, to become well-adjusted, smart and happy members of the household. For moms and dads of dogs, it’s important to know how to unlock their interest around the house. Keep their minds active, and brighter, happier, more stimulated kiddos will follow.
Try a treat-dispensing or puzzle toy with your dog. KONG has a variety of toys that fit this category, including KONG Classic and Goodie Bone. If introduced correctly, they will occupy your kiddo with a progressively challenging and intellectually stimulating activity.
And if your dog has a bad habit you’re trying to fix, these toys are very effective redirection tools. They’ll distract your kiddo from engaging in unwanted behaviors. Or use them as a reward during or after training sessions.
Most of these toys are easy to introduce with a little training. Just follow these steps and enjoy some bonding time.
Enrichment Dog Toy Introduction
- Introduce the new toy before a meal, this way your dog will be hungry to learn. It’s also best to choose a quiet time and place with no distractions so your kiddo can focus on the task at hand.
- Fill the toy with treats that easily dispense. Most treat-dispensing enrichment toys have at least one opening that randomly dispenses or grips the treat. Be sure the treats dispense or release easily. Other toys have adjustable openings. For those toys, make sure the opening is at its widest-dispense or easiest setting.
- Have your dog watch you fill and test the toy. Be sure your kiddo sees the treats going in and falling out of the toy as you test the rate or ease of dispensing.
- Place the treat-filled toy on the floor in front of your dog and roll or shake it until one or more of the treats fall out. Let him eat those treats and praise him for his attention.
- Now let your dog try the toy. Most dogs, after watching the filling and release demonstration, will understand how to manipulate the toy to get the treat rewards. If yours does not, repeat steps two and three several times and leave the toy out for a few hours. Important: Always supervise the use of any new toy until you are confident it is safe for your kiddo.
- Always let your dog win. During the introductory stage, use the easiest challenge level to ensure he is able to solve the treat puzzle. Following this simple rule will allow him to win and greatly increase the desire to repeat the puzzle.
Increasing the Challenge
- Once your brilliant dog successfully solves the treat-dispensing puzzle multiple times at the easiest level, it’s time to slowly increase the difficulty. Do not immediately move to the highest level of difficulty; take your time and gradually increase the challenge. Remember to let your kiddo win at each increasing level of difficulty.
- If your dog has repeated difficulty solving the puzzle at more challenging levels, go back to the last level solved. Continue at the previous level for a longer period of time before increasing the difficulty.
- After some experimentation with the toy at various levels of challenge, you may find a certain sized treat or previous level of difficulty is perfect for entertaining or occupying your dog.
- At this point, instead of continually trying to force a higher level of difficulty, try adding variety with additional enrichment toys. Introduce the new toys following the same introductory steps. Offering a variety of puzzle toys will keep your kiddo interested in the challenge and provide a greater degree of intellectual stimulation and growth.
- You can also try offering multiple enrichment toys per session for longer playtimes.