Many dogs and puppies really like to chew on and unpack puzzle toys, and providing them with a “legal” outlet for such activities – like Kongs, treat balls, and enrichment toys and games – can be a great way to satisfy that need. Sure, having objects that are okay to chew on can save you from having to buy replacement shoes and furniture, but it can also help to reinforce calm and settled in your dog. Once your dog enjoys chewing on their chew toys, you can put that to good use to help them become more comfortable home alone.
To teach your dogs to love their chew toys, here a few easy steps to follow:
1. Play with the toy with your dog to make it fun and interesting.
2. Show your dog what the toy can do by loosely putting a few yummy treats in the toy so your dog can get the food out easily.
3. After your dog learns to get the food out easily, use some peanut butter, cream cheese, or pumpkin to help keep the kibble in the toy longer.
4. Over time, your dog will learn to get the food out more quickly. You can make it more challenging and enriching by mixing wet and dry ingredients, including all or part of their daily meals. Try freezing the toy for short periods to make the food more challenging to get out.
The trick is to create a toy that your dog loves and will spend some good time unpacking. We’ve found that once a healthy food toy habit is created it can then be used to help dogs tolerate being alone for longer periods and can even help when you have to leave your dog with a friend or with your neighborhood boarding facility.
Here at Doggy Business, we give our lodgers Kongs stuffed with peanut butter and their own kibble as a bed time snack. This gives them something fun to do
when they are in their rooms and helps to create positive associations with their surroundings. We also use Wobble Kongs and other treat balls for the same purpose. These “games” are enriching for dogs and can help to satisfy a species-specific need to scavenge and “dissect” food items. Dogs who enjoy these activities become more tolerant to the absence of other forms of reinforcement, like when they are home alone or in a room at a boarding facility.
Give it a try and see if it helps with your dog!