The granddaddy of all work-to-eat toys, the Kong is a chew toy made of nearly indestructible rubber. It was originally based on a part of a Volkswagen bus’ suspension device that the creator’s German Shepherd found particularly irresistible. Kongs can be stuffed with a wide variety of yummies. Kong sells specially shaped treats and different things you can squeeze inside, but you can stuff it with whatever your dogs’ weakness might be: cream cheese, wet dog food, peanut butter, liverwurst, frozen blueberries, carrots…
This genius little Bob-a-Lot is weighted on the bottom, so it wobbles all around like those inflatable “bop bags” we had as kids. It comes in a few different sizes. The yellow part at the top screws off, allowing you to put kibble inside, or any kind of small and fairly hard treats. There are adjustable holes at the bottom that allow treats to shake out when Bob-A-Lot is batted around. If you feed your dog kibble, you can put his entire meal in this thing. It makes mealtime last ten times as long, which is a good thing for reasons both behavioral and healthful.
The Tricky Treat Ball
The Tricky Treat Ball is similar to the Bob-A-Lot. There’s a single hole in which you put in kibble or treats and they fall out as the dog pushes it. Much enjoyment will ensue. Your dog will continue to play with the ball after all the treats are gone–he’ll be holding out hope that maybe there’s still one lodged in there somewhere. He’ll also keep playing with it because, like so many humans, dogs like balls.
Here, the human puts dry food (kibble, treats, Cheerios, whatever) into the Tug-a-Jug, which unscrews at the bottom. The food comes out of a narrow hole at the top, which has a rope sticking into it. As the dog pulls on the rope, some food gets dragged out. Your pup will have crazy amounts of fun swinging this around and tugging at it. It comes in several sizes to accommodate different size dog mouths.
Stuff dry food into the sides of the barbell-shaped Waggle and the bits will fall out intermittently as your dog holds the middle part in his mouth and shakes it. Well, that’s supposed to be how it works, at least–my dog prefers to just kind of roll it around with his paws until the treats come out. That works too. There are rubber teeth in the holes on the sides that can be snipped out in order to reduce the level of difficulty. Premier also makes the Chuckle, which is similar but a little sturdier and has a squeaker inside.
The Dog Casino
The Dog Casino is a one of the many fine toys by Nina Ottosson, a genius Swedish pioneer in the world of interactive dog puzzle toys. Her offerings come in a variety of levels of difficulty and in both plastic and wood. Many of Ottoson’s line of toys require that you work with your dog a little bit to help him along. It’s really fun to watch them solve the little mystery of each game, and to figure out how to help them get it. Nina Ottoson has an entire line of toys and puzzles for dogs AND cats to keep them rewarded and busy when you are not at home.