Yesterday I posted about how to keep your dog occupied when you cannot be with him. One of the suggestions was the use of stuffable dog toys. Today I’m going to do a product overview to look at some of the best products on the market and look at the pros and cons of each. Now there are literally hundreds of toys that fall into this category, I am not going to even attempt to look at them all, instead I’m going to focus on the ones that I use regularly with my own dogs, as I can provide personal experience in what works and what doesn’t.
Having said that, as there are so many items available I would love feedback from you about what products you have used and how you (and your pet) found them. I’m always on the look out for top dog toys to cure boredom.
Benefits of stuffables
As I said yesterday, one of the things that these toys are awesome for is keeping our dogs occupied when they have to be left alone, but there are a range of other benefits too!
- slows down the ingestion of food
- provides mental stimulation
- improves problem solving skills
- harnesses a dog’s natural instincts of searching for food
- your dog has to work for his food
- can help in reducing separation anxiety
- can help with problem behaviours, such as barking, whining, digging and chewing
- can assist calmness when left in a crate
- can be soothing for teething puppies – especially if you freeze it first
There are so many things that you can fill these toys with, there are commercial fillings available, but you can also be as creative as you like with low fat home made fillings. Here are some of the things my dogs enjoy in their toys:
- natural yogurt
- fruit and vegetables (see harmful foods list here)
- peanut butter
- cream cheese
- cottage cheese
- mashed sweet potato
- stock (frozen)
- dog treats
- tinned dog food
- dried kibble (from their daily ration)
These are the toys that I use with my own dogs on a daily basis. They key is variety – mix up with toy they get when and what you put in it. If they’re new to stuffables then start out easy, some loose treats they can get out easily to begin with, slowly working up to more tricky fillings. For a longer lasting and more challenging filling you can freeze them too.
They come in the Classic (red) and extreme (black) for stronger chewers. They can be frozen and are dishwasher safe. My dogs love filled kongs, I usually do freeze them as they last longer and they will keep them occupied for anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour or so, depending on what’s inside.
I love this toy, I’ve had it for several years and it is great for teaching them problem solving skills. The top screws off and you can put treats or their whole meal inside and let them wobble it to get the goodies out. When I give the whole meal inside it can take Jive (who is well experienced at the wobbler) up to an hour to eat his meal. It’s also really easy to clean.
I prefer the unfilled hooves, but I can’t always find them in the local stores. You can buy ready stuffed hooves, but I don’t care much for the stuffing and it can cause stomach upsets, so if I can’t get an unfilled hoof I will scoop out the filling and bit it, then fill it myself with some of the suggestions above. My dogs enjoy chewing the hoof long after the contents have gone, so this really can be a boredom breaker that lasts for a good long time.
Similar to the hooves, I find that the ready filled bones are more readily available, but again I’m not fond of the fillings, so if I cannot find unfilled ones I just discard the filling and make my own. These are another great way to keep the dogs occupied for a good long while, if you can get a long and thin bone it can take them a good while to get right to the middle of the filling and get everything out. Once emptied your dog may still want to chew, or you can give it a rinse and refill it next time.
These are amazing, I saw them in a photo on Facebook and thought they looked fun, then I saw them in a discount store in my local town, so I bought three! The head has a squeaker inside and the body has a channel right along where you can stuff treats or food. They’re a different shape to most of the stuffables I use, so the dogs enjoy something different.
There are so many treat balls around, they vary in design but all generally work on the same basis whereby your pet has to roll the ball to dispense the treats. More straightforward than some of the other products reviewed here, they may be good for those dogs who are new to stuffables.
I have one of the original Buster Cubes that I must have bought more than 20 years ago, it is a large plastic dice which has channels inside, you fill it with threats and then the dog has to toss the dice in a variety of different directions to release the treats. This takes a lot of time to learn, so probably best for those more experienced in treat release!
Cows windpipes – ewww – I know, but they are a totally natural treat and very easily to fill. They don’t last as long as some of the man-made products, but my dogs absolutely love them!
This is a new one to my collection, it is a small plastic square with raised pimples, you smear treats on it (cream cheese, peanut butter, wet dog food, etc) and your dog licks it off. The licking itself is very soothing for the dog, and the pimples (for want of a better word!) mean that it takes a long time to get all the treat off. I have been using this for my dog Jive, as he doesn’t much care for being groomed, so I let him lick the mat while I tackle his tufts!
Get going and try some
As I said at the start, this is just the tip of the iceberg, there are so many products out there that fall into the ‘stuffable’ category. Drop me a comment below to let me know which ones you have used and how you found them. Any questions too, just ask.