Feeding your dog from a bowl is like using a Blackberry… there are infinitely more useful options out there. For the overworked urban owner, feeding a dog in a food-dispensing toy is an effective way to help him release some energy (especially “mouthy” energy) and engage his brain while you’re busy doing other things. While never a substitute for training or exercise, these toys add a little fun to your dog’s day without any extra effort on your part.
One of my go-to toys is the oddly named -- and oddly-shaped -- Kong Genius Mike. This tube-like, rubber toy has slits at both ends, which you can fill with treats or kibble. I use this to feed both my dogs their evening dry food; I put the dogs in separate rooms and shut the doors, giving them 5-10 minutes of alone time to work independently. In turn, I get a few minutes of peace and quiet while they’re busy getting all the pieces out. This toy is also suitable for training treats or other hard goodies, but not for wet or sticky food.
Kong Genius Mike is an easy treat-dispensing toys for dogs to figure out, so even less "academic" types can stay interested for several minutes without getting frustrated. Its value isn’t in the complexity but rather in the time it takes for a hungry pooch to finish his meal and the energy it takes to get every piece out. For added challenge, you can connect it to other Kong “Genius” line products.
Batman demonstrates his Kong-slapping skills in the video below.
Kate Naito, CPDT-KA, MS, is an accomplished author and dog trainer with Doggie Academy in Brooklyn, NY. Her books, articles, and videos cover everything from house-training to leash aggression.