Heart BEATS: "Throw Out Your Food Bowl and Make Your Pet Work"

We haven’t used food bowls to feed our four dogs in more than three years. We primarily use a variety of food puzzles, which we fill with measured amounts of kibble for each dog (we have two large dogs, 65 and 40 pounds, and two small dogs, 16 and 17 pounds).

It’s fun to watch them see which food puzzle is being loaded up. You can almost see a thought bubble above their heads with, “Aha! They think they’re so smart, but I remember how to get this slot machine to pay off!”

About eight months out of the year, we also make “Kong-sicles” for them. We take the appropriate size Kong, fill it with canned or homemade food, wipe a thin film of peanut butter around the rim, insert a pencil rawhide down the center of the Kong and into the goop, then turn it upside down and freeze it. When you deliver the Kong-sicle to the dogs, the rawhide acts like a fuse until they get down to an explosion of taste.

One of our dogs’ favorite activities is to forage for food in the grass like cattle with fang teeth and dewclaws. In the winter, I’ll scatter kibble on the vinyl floor of the basement or the concrete floor of the garage and let all the dogs ricochet from kibble to kibble like four-legged Pong icons. Our pack’s absolute favorite, though (and mine!), is when we scatter kibble in the grass and let them use their sight and sniffers to find them. While some of the dogs give up after a few minutes, our Grand Pug Bruce, who belongs to our daughter, Vetstreet pet-behavior expert Mikkel Becker, will keep searching the grass for hours. This activity not only serves to feed their bodies but perhaps, more importantly, feeds their minds as well.

We have a blind Golden with a terrific nose. And a Pit Bull-Labrador mix with a super-sniffer. But the Pugs, with those one-inch snorkels for noses, do amazingly well in finding those diamonds in the rough.

Google+

Join the Conversation

Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!