As a cocker spaniel, Chloe is a bit of a smarty pants doggo. This means that if she doesn’t get mentally stimulated she will get bored and become more annoying i.e. dig in the backyard, and get up to mischief.
To prevent this from happening, I am constantly looking out for toys that will stimulate her brain and keep her preoccupied, even for 15-20 minutes at a time. As she’s so food motivated, I tried to pair up the toy games with food. See my favourite brain dog toys below!
I’ve put together a list of my favourite toys, all split out into different categories depending on what you are looking for. I’ve also listed out one that was a bit of a let down (because not all toys work out in the end!). Let’s get started!
The nice and easy one: KONG Wobbler, Large
This treat dispensing dog toy is amazing! I bought this about a year ago, and although it looks used on the outside (scratched up by Chloe), it’s hardwearing and continues to be intact without anything cracking or breaking off. This is a very impressive streak, as most dog toys we’ve had don’t last for long, or you have to replace as it becomes a hazard.
How to use
It’s very easy to use, simply twist the top part off, place the dog treats/food inside (treats/kibble must fit through the hole), screw the top part back on and let your do enjoy knocking it around to try to get them all out! I tend to use this only for her regular, dry Orijen dog food for her breakfast or for dinner, I don’t tend to put in any other training treats as she’s perfectly motivated by her daily dog food. If your dog is picky, try placing a few higher value, strong smelling treats mixed in with regular food to get them motivated.
I know it’s a safe toy for her, it’s a very basic shape with few bits that could cause any harm. It’s fabulous because she has to use her a brain in a new and different way to get her dog food. She also has to earn her breakfast/dinner instead of just being given it all at once. It’s also an amazing toy for those dogs, like Chloe, that consume their entire meal in 10 seconds as this forces them to pace themselves and enables them to only take a few bits at a time. It probably keeps Chloe occupied for about 15-20mins in a safe way which is amazing.
The only downside is if you have wooden floors it does make a bit of racket, so just be prepared!
The recess snack: Petsafe Busy Buddy Waggle
So I can’t actually recall where I found this, I think I may have been just randomly browsing to see if I can find another challenge for Chloe when I saw this on Amazon. I liked the fact that you could make it harder (by cutting off the little inside bits) or easier depending on your dog’s abilities. It’s doesn’t hold as much food as the Kong Wobbler, hence calling this a fun, quick brain challenge. I would feel safe leaving her with this alone in the house, as the treats do come out regularly enough to keep her occupied.
How to use it
Super easy to work this, just insert the kibble or treats into either end of the bone ends and give to your dog! I bought size small and sort of regretted it as I had to tweak it quite a bit in order for the treats to come out, and this was standard kibble sizes. I couldn’t even get the kibble out, let alone poor Chloe! Once I made the adjustment she liked it and kept her occupied. She just had to drop it around the room to get the treats out, which she was use to doing with the KONG.
Really be careful how much you cut off. It’s really hard to cut off the little stoppers to begin with, but once you cut off too much you can’t change it! I think once it was big enough for the treats to come, Chloe managed to get them out quite quickly. I think in terms of originality it’s not that novel as I think the KONG does essentially the same thing.
The ultimate challenge: Nina Ottosson Twister Wheel
So I actually have the older version of this, so the photos will look slightly different, but the concept is the same. If anything, the newer version is an improvement on mine!
How to use it
It has a few moving parts, but all you have to do is put in the food/kibble under each of the paw categories. I like to change it up and put more or less in some to keep her interested, and then move the bones into each of the holes to “lock” them into place. Chloe then has to remove each bone before proceeding to move the slots with her paws to reveal the food.
This is quite a challenging puzzle compared to a lot on the market, but I think it’s fabulous because it has multiple steps that they have to follow exactly to get the food. It’s also great because it’s dishwasher safe so I just pop it in there to give it a good clean.
I left Chloe unattended a few times and she managed to bite and ruin a few of the white bones, so definitely need to be supervised. Once they understand the process, it also doesn’t take them very long to get through it all either, so it’s not a massively time consuming toy. But it’s great as a brain exercise! It’s also a pricier investment compared to these other toys, but I think well worth it.
The longest lasting one: KONG Classic Dog Toy, Large
This is probably the world’s most famous dog toy, as I’ve seen it everywhere. It really is great, because of it’s simple size/materials and it’s flexibility on how you use it. It’s also great because they have a “extreme” version made from harder material to make sure stronger jaws can’t break it apart.
How to use
This is a super easy dog toy to use, and you can make it easier or harder depending on your dog’s preferences. The easiest thing is to fill the Kong with dry dog food, as it will easily fall out for the dog. To make it harder you can combine your favourite wet food with the dry food and stuff it that way that way they have to lick it out. To make it the hardest (this is what I do for Chloe) I do wet food combo with dry dog food and then freeze it over night. This is marvellous as it takes her at least half an hour to get it all out.
Once again love the flexibility of this. You can just fill with dry dog food/treats, with a combination of wet food and dog food and you can do wet/dog food combo which you then freeze to make it super hard depending on your dog’s preference!
If you are using wet food, do make sure to carefully wash the entire toy after, including the narrow bottom bit which can be quite hard to do so. It’s dishwasher safe so you can always just throw it in there.
The one to avoid: KONG Marathon, Small
SO, not to be a negative Nancy, but I thought it would be fair to point out that not all toys end in success. I found this in TKMaxx and I was immediately taken by the name “Marathon” toy because it sounded like it will last her a long time. In theory it sounded nice, in reality it was a bit of a let-down.
How to use
It’s super easy to use, as the hard treat is already placed in the middle of the toy. Once they finish the hard biscuit inside, you can buy replacements online.
The dog is meant to just lick out the treat, which was taking Chloe forever and making me really happy. If you don’t want to buy the replacements which are quite costly online, I’d just mix wet food and her kibble and freeze it over night.
Chloe started getting impatient with how long it was taking to lick the treat out, so she then started biting out the rubber holding the treat it, until the treat was just able to slip out. This was obviously not very good. I had thought that the rubber was hard enough, but I guess not! This is why sadly I have to say, that if you dog is even a mild chewer to avoid this because they will destroy the product quite quickly.