Is your dog home alone for long hours? Does he get bored and destructive? Why not fixate your dog on something you would like him to do? It’s fun and easy too! Dogs have a real need for mental stimulation just like we do. Humans have friends, family, movies, cell phones, books and more to keep busy with. Dogs have us, and whatever else they can find to pass the time. Providing your dog with a safe, fun, interactive puzzle game goes a long way to helping him deal with alone time. Dog trainers call these objects “food puzzles” and they are wonderful way to satisfy that very need.
Since it’s not always possible to spend every waking moment with your dog, a little bit of advanced planning can go a long way to ease their anxiety or just make “alone time” enjoyable for them through the use of safe canine food puzzles.
Canine food puzzles are generally rubber or specially made plastic balls and toys of all shapes and sizes with cut outs and pockets to hide dog treats and snacks. They are called “food puzzles” because when properly “stuffed,” dogs can spend hours interacting with them while being mentally challenged and rewarded in the process! You can also feed your dogs their entire meal in food puzzles to keep them busy when you leave the house.
Here’s how to get started: In the beginning, remove all other toys from the area and interact with your dog and the food puzzle by putting a nice tasty treat in it which is easy for them to remove. Play together like this new object is THE BEST toy on earth. Once your dog is interested in it, put it up and out of reach to keep it “special.” After your dog has learned to love it, you can use it as a canine pacifier of sorts when you need to leave them alone. Over time, stuff the food puzzle so that the treats are hard to remove easily which will occupy your dog’s time as a fun positive challenge. Peanut butter, a bit of kibble, baby carrots and appropriately sized biscuits are great items to use but you can get as creative as you’d like with dog-appropriate treats.
Remember to keep the food puzzle novel by ONLY stuffing and putting it out for your dog at “alone time” Be careful not to let it sit around and be taken for granted when you are there so your dog knows it means you are gone, but the fun is ON, and you’ll be back soon!