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Enrichment is an important part of your puppy’s life. In addition to adequate space, care and exercise, you also need to provide the right interaction. Ultimately a bored puppy is a neglected puppy! Luckily, there are loads of ways to enrich their daily life, and there are puppy food enrichment ideas that can help!
Puppies are actually just furry bundles of energy and always searching for something to do, so even things like giving them a quick meal won’t do much to spend energy reserves. It seems convenient to just drop a bowl of food in front of your puppy, but it’s actually the worst way to go about feeding them.
Instead, using certain puppy food enrichment ideas can make your pup “work” for their food, to give them something to do in addition to a tasty meal.
You see, dogs still have their prey drive, which means your
Most puppies have a natural ‘prey drive’ which can be satisfied if allowed to sniff out, chase, find, tug and shake food. That’s how you help train and curb destructive behaviors.
Here are five great puppy food enrichment ideas that will make feeding time more interesting for your pup.
1. Treat and Food Balls
The simplest way to make your puppy work for their food is to invest in a treat/food ball. These balls can be filled with dry treats and food, and often have several difficulty levels you can set up. As the puppy plays with the ball and rolls it around, treats will fall out of it.
Some food balls are intended for treats only, but others can be larger and even used for the whole daily portion of dry food.
Here’s one we’ve used and recommend:
LickiMats are the perfect way to give your puppy a tasty soft treat, such as peanut butter, and make it last for a long time. The LickiMat has a textured surface that can hold soft treats and stimulates your pup’s natural drive to sniff. It can also have a calming effect on your puppy.
Repetitive licking is one way puppies tend to soothe themselves whilst stressed. For example, when there’s a storm or when they are home alone, so having a LickiMat helps keep them calm. Before you leave them alone with the mat, make sure to supervise how they use it to prevent them from chewing it! Buy a LikiMat here.
3. Food Treasure Hunt
You don’t have to limit feeding time to a single area in your home, or just have one feeding toy! A food treasure hunt is one of the most affordable puppy food enrichment ideas since all you have to do is scatter the food around the yard or several areas throughout your house.
Your puppy will enjoy foraging for food. There’s even a food hunt toy available, called the Snuffle Mat, that is an expert difficulty challenge for all those pups who have mastered regular food hunting.
4. Kong Toys
Kong is the undefeated champion of puppy food enrichment, especially when it comes to puppies who are a bit too enthusiastic about chewing through everything.
They are incredibly durable and come in different sizes to suit your puppy’s needs. Their design means you can stuff them with food, kibble or treats and you can make it more or less challenging than you like.
Kong’s can be hours of fun for your puppy, and we’ve tested many of them. For working puppies these are the best of the puppy food enrichment ideas for them:
5. Puzzles and Intelligence Games
If your pooch has outsmarted all your other puppy food enrichment ideas and food balls are just way to easy, choose complex doggy puzzle games.
The Trixie turnaround activity game is a beginner intelligence toy to get your dog thinking! Make your own DIY version here if you want to:
There are other options from strategy games like this:
To memory trainers like this:
Puzzles are a great investment because you can customize it and increase difficulty levels as your puppy figures out the easier ones.
Which one of these puppy food enrichment ideas have you tried out already? Do you have any more ideas on how to make feeding time more fun for your puppy? We’d love to hear about them, let us know in the comments.
The team behind The Puppy Toolbox with combined puppy experience of over 10 years! Bringing you the best puppy care tips, tricks and advice for your favorite Puppy Care Magazine.