MEALTIME FUN

trusting paws

by Naomi Heck, M.Ed., CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

Mealtime Fun

How did your feed your dog today?  If your GSP is anything like my Chase, he practically inhales his food at mealtime as though he is starving, then a short time later is begging for more.  What a wasted opportunity, not to mention risky because GSPs are at risk for getting bloat (gastric dilation volvulus) which can be deadly. With a little creativity and not much effort, it is easy to provide your dog with a fun and healthy way to meet his natural urges to hunt and chew.

Before I got my puppy Minnie a few months ago, I have to confess I got lazy and often fed Chase from a bowl.  Now that he is becoming a senior, he lost interest in excavating food from his classic Kong toy, especially if it was frozen.  Why should he work so hard when it is always provided on a silver platter (bowl)?

But with the puppy came the need to prevent boredom and anxiety when I had to confine her and leave home during the day.  So I gathered all of Chase’s food dispensing toys that were gathering dust.  I would exercise Minnie (and Chase, of course) thoroughly before crating her with several food stuffed toys and a bully stick to chew on.  After a satisfying meal and chewing session, she would fall asleep.

The highlight of every morning is watching Chase and Minnie happily going from toy to toy with tails wagging, hunting for breakfast.   This keeps them busy while I shower and get dressed.  Chase loves this routine as much as Minnie.   He’s a lot faster at getting at the food, so I need to make sure he doesn’t eat Minnie’s portion, too.  To challenge Chase even more, I will sometimes hide the toys throughout the house.

The pet product industry has come a long way since the classic snow-man shaped Kong toy was introduced in 1976.  It became a huge hit with dog owners who were tired of chewed up shoes and furniture. The selection of interactive dog toys online and in pet stores today is mind boggling. The toys range from very easy to very difficult depending on your dog’s skill and determination.  Here is a photo of just some of my stash I’ve collected over the years:

Fun meals

Back Row (L to R):  Kong Wobbler (for dry kibble); Classic Kongs stuffed with layers of canned food + kibble + peanut butter + cheese (can be frozen); Tug-a-Jug (holds kibble and is loud on hard floors);  Kibble Nibble; Squirrel Dude; and Twist and Treat (purple ones are all by PetSafe).

Front Row (L to R):  Nina Ottosan Dog Tornado; beef shin bone stuffed with a mixture of kibble + canned food + grated parmesan cheese;  unknown brand from a clearance bin, filled with kibble + canned food + broken dog biscuits; 2 more unknown brands, wide mouth hard plastic bottle filled with kibble + biscuits +c heese cubes + apple chunks; and for dessert, a JW Pet Hol-ee Roller stuffed with a large Milk Bone and a Zuke’s beef filet.

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