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Food Puzzle Videos

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Will Work For Food

Videos -- This video was prepared for our veterinary staff training, but we think it will also be helpful for you!
Creating "Pup-Sicles"

Pet Perception Management by Dr. Rolan Tripp

Food Puzzles

Pets need, desire and benefit from daily activity

There are many brands and types of food puzzles. It's best to offer a few puzzles with varying difficulty and then rotate what is offered daily to keep these toys interesting. Finally, some pet parents make their own food puzzles using PVC pipe or other improvisations. For cats try a tissue role or Kleenex box stuffed with paper and hide food inside. Then let them tear it up!

A “food puzzle” is any toy or object that can contain food and requires the pet to work to find a way to obtain the food. The most common food puzzle is a, “Kong” toy. Kongs can be filled with cheese, peanut butter, cheerios, kibble or a variety of many things. The goal is for the food to be released slowly and with some effort on the pet's part.
Filling a Kong with canned food and then freezing it is a good way to slow things down! Just beware of where you offer the food puzzle as carpets have been known to take the brunt of these feeding devices. Placing them in a kennel is ideal.

Pets need mental stimulation and something to do during the day when their people are gone. Wild Canids (wolves, dogs, foxes, etc.) spend about 60% of their day searching for food. Feeding an entire day’s food in 5 -10 minutes does nothing to encourage activity. Feeding from Food Puzzles allows hunger to be the motivation to play with the puzzle for hours, thus doing what nature intended.

Is it fair to frustrate your pet with a puzzle?

Because PEOPLE eat fast food, they think dogs should. But people still spend the day in mental and physical pursuit of the money to buy the food. Ideally, pets would spend about the same amount of time “working” for their food.

Does a pet become frustrated with a puzzle? 

Sure. The same way a teenager becomes frustrated with a video game. In both cases, the intermittent reward keeps them engrossed and excited. Kongs and rubber toys with holes in them can be filled with various soft or hard treats such as cheese, bread, peanut butter, cheerios, store bought treats stuffed tightly with a larger biscuit to help block the openingStart easy and work your way up to making it harder and harder for your pet to get food from the puzzle. Human creativity in stuffing the food puzzle helps slow down the process of getting the food out. The slower the better once the pet is comfortable with puzzles. Have at least 3 different puzzles in different difficulty levels to rotate every day.

If needed to get your pet interested in a puzzle, smear a little canned food or peanut butter on the outside of the puzzle.

How to introduce the first food puzzle

Do not feed your pet for 24 hours before introducing the first puzzle. Place a few hard or semi-hard fragrant treats in the food puzzle to help attract initial interest. You may need to show your pet that tasty rewards fall out. If your pet is not interested smear canned food on the outside of the puzzle. For dogs you can use peanut butter! Most puzzles are top rack dishwater safe for easy clean up.

Once your pet will readily work to get treats out change to their own kibble. Start each day with a measured amount of food appropriate for your pet's weight. That will be the allotment for the day to be placed in the puzzles. Provide 80% of food in food puzzles with the rest used for hand feedingWorking on kennel training? Try placing one puzzle in the kennel!  

Ask your veterinarian

Ask your veterinarian what type and how much food to feed you pet for optimal health. Get any homemade food puzzles approved by your veterinarian in advance. Some pets may consume cardboard pieces.

Benefits of Food Puzzles Summary

  • Makes mealtime stimulating, unpredictable, and a way to expend energy
  • Hide them around the house
  • Vary the difficulty
  • Some are adjustable
  • Need to be customized to the dog's weight and personality
  • Start with easy and work your way up to harder ones

When doing internet searches for purchasing food puzzles look using the key words:  Food Puzzles, Interactive Puzzles, Treat Delivery Device

Tripp's Tips

Rotate at least 3 varieties of puzzles daily. If you are kennel training, place the puzzle in the kennel to associate it with positive surprises.  If you want a positive association with the bath tub (and an easy-to-clean solution) and if your pet is a size that works, place puzzle in the bathtub. Puzzles can be left when you are not home or any time you need a distraction. Start each day with a measured amount of food recommended by the pet's veterinarian to avoid overfeeding. Decrease food by the amount of treats added. Combination of store bought and home"425" height="344">

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...::::::: Copyright 2000-Present  All Rights Reserved by Rolan Tripp, DVM  and Susan Tripp, MS, Animal Behavior Network and Associates :::::::...