How to Keep A Smart Dog Occupied With Minimal Effort
So when I brought Bloo, aka houdini dog, home I was expecting a smart dog. However not only is she smart, she’s fearless, extremely curious, and has seemingly ceaseless energy.
Two Types of Kibble
The first thing I always have on hand is a second bag of kibble. I have her regular kibble (from TLC) that comes in 30 lb bags, and a second bag 5lb bag of kibble (right now, it’s Performatrin Ultra, but I also buy Acana) that I use to switch things up. She is normally much more interested in the second type of kibble because it’s, well, different! Bloo is always interested in testing out other dog’s kibble when we go to friend’s houses. If I’m stuffing her toys with the second kind of kibble, it’s usually enough to keep her interested. However, I also use to regular kibble to stuff into these toys as well. When I’m using just her regular kibble, I mix in bits of cheese and breakup bits of apple chips as well.
Food Dispensing Toys
- The Kong Wobbler (1) toy is awesome because it’s big, Bloo can’t take it apart, and it can hold a good amount of food. the only thing I don’t like is that it’s almost too easy for her to knock kibble out of it. If I fill this with just her regular kibble and some other bits in there, she will knock it around and pick out all the “interesting bits” and leave her kibble lying all around the house.
- For a long time the Pet IQ ball (2)could keep Bloo occupied for an hour, but every time I give it to her now, she’s able to open it and loves to chew on the white plastic separator…
- I bought this for it’s unique shape. I’m always on the look out for shapes and textures that are new to Bloo. This chuckler dumb bell thing (3) is very challenging for Bloo to get kibble out of. Awesome! (TBH, I don’t think she can get the current kibble out because of its funny shape, but she hasn’t gotten bored from trying!)
- Bloo will eat her dinner out of everything but a bowl. There must be something really satisfying about having to work for your dinner? She will eat it out of any container except the designated bowl/mat that’s full of easy access kibble. I get some not too difficult puzzles for her to eat her dinner out of. Such as this dog tornado puzzle (4). She will always eat out of the puzzle she got as a puppy before eating out of anything else. It’s very similar to this one (5).
- $0 option: I discovered when I took Bloo on a trip with me that she loves eating out of ziploc bags! Now if we’re out during dinner time, instead of tranferring the kibble out of the bag and into a bowl, I just keep it in the bag and she LOVES it. Maybe it’s something to do with the burrowing/crinkle of the plastic. To keep things challenging, I’ll reuse the plastic zip bags that her treats come in and serve her dinner in those. You don’t necessarily have to spend money to keep your dog occupied.
What I haven’t included are the regular rubber Kongs. I can stuff them with kibble and peanut butter, but they don’t take Bloo very long to annihilate. What does work is mixing pumpkin puree, apple sauce, yogurt, oatmeal (or a combination thereof) with some kibble and freezing it. However, this takes a lot more “work” than the other options.
The other thing I didn’t include are bully sticks. I use these as treats, and in general they are much costlier per chew. They are her most “high-value” treat so I only pull them out when I’m grooming her. A good way to make them last longer is to stick it into one of these Quizl things (6). They’re a little pricey, but I heard that they are high quality and if your dog destroys it, they will replace it.
I try not to always use food to keep her motivated.
- Bloo prefers hard nylon chews over rubber chews. Which is great for me because they last forever! Nylabone makes some great options because they come in all kinds of flavors, shapes, textures. My favorite Nylabone that I’ve bought is this ring chew. I bought it not for Bloo, but for a HEAVY chewing lab/shephard mix.
- Benebones are also awesome, but tend to be a little more expensive than Nylabones. They also don’t have as many variations in terms of flavor, shapes, textures. When I took the Benebone out for the first time Bloo went crazy for it. It’s her number one choice chew.
- Borrow a friend’s dog! This is my favorite option because it’s free and the dogs usually tire themselves out. I can only play so much fetch in a day (although, Bloo has been trained to make sure she drops the ball within my reach and to wait patiently for me to finish reading my paragraph/typing my sentence before throwing the ball).
What I haven’t included in this list are new toys. New toys work great for a lot of dogs, however with Bloo she has to be supervised when chewing on anything that’s not a hard chew. She loves to defluff (and ingest fluff) plush toys. I’m really hoping that this is a phase because she used to play very nicely with her toys.
If you have any additional tips for me, please share! And I hope you find at least one of these solutions helpful!