Being bored is the worst, right?
Did you know your dog gets bored too?
Now I know that you’re thinking, “how would I even know if my dog is bored?
If your dog’s daily behavior is less than desirable (anxious, pacing, whining, in general naughty) then chances are, you have a bored dog.
Don’t stress, I have great news! Dogs do not always need intense outdoor play for their boredom, just mental stimulation.
It is possible to alleviate some boredom in your dog by the method you feed them. I’m not talking about the actual food, I’ll save the nerdy nutrition lesson for another blog. I’m talking about alleviating boredom through different feeding methods. Full disclosure here, feeding methods cannot correct all of the above but it can certainly help. Baby steps, right?
Obviously routine exercise, a training plan, and playing with your dog daily are the first choices for keeping boredom at bay. Teaching some new tricks is our favorite way to end the day, see my previous blog on trick training benefits here Trick Training.
Maybe your dog is injured or recovering from surgery. I have a cardiac dog who is on physical restrictions but she naturally has high drive, talk about a bad combination! I have to get really creative with helping her constant state of boredom. Being bored is awful, we can all agree on that. So let’s put that bored dog to work!
One easy way to help stimulate the mind of a bored dog is with food puzzles. There are multiple food puzzles on the market, all with the same end goal, stimulate your dog and provide them with something to do. We all want to be entertained, right? If you have multiple dogs sharing a space, be mindful of potential food guarding and unwanted behavior. For my own dogs they each go in their own personal space to enjoy their food puzzles, safety first!
Toppl is a treat puzzle that I actually use. It can be used in different ways and I use it daily. I have both the large and small toppl because they lock together, creating a wonderful food puzzle that’s fun and time consuming. I take my dogs kibble and soak it in water (using a boring regular bowl), once it has absorbed the water, I pack both toppl’s, smash them together, place in a gallon sized Ziploc, and freeze. I prefer to freeze it because I want the maximum amount of entertainment for my dog. I want my dog to work for her food. Laica is a shark, and it takes her roughly 45 mins to empty a fully frozen toppl. She loves working for her food! The toppl bounces, rolls unevenly & in general is just fun for my dogs. You could easily pack the toppl without freezing, or pack with some treats and freeze to use for crate entertainment.
Another option is an actual bowl maze, it requires your dog to move around the bowl, working for their kibble. It will slide on our tile floor, which again I prefer because I want my dogs to use brain power while figuring out how to get their food. This particular bowl maze is handy if you have a dog that is a food vacuum and won’t slow down their table etiquette (which can lead to digestion problems). Just like with the toppl you could freeze these as well.
Does your dog already have a favorite food puzzle? Do you have any creative ideas, recipes, or pictures you’d like to share; I’d love to hear from you! Find me on facebook
I’ve recently been asked about my homemade treat recipe. For those that don’t know me, I’m a health & nutrition nerd. For humans and dogs. I make my own dog training treats mostly because I know the ingredients and care about what I feed my dogs. As I mentioned I have a cardiac dog that has a very strict diet and well, health/nutrition nerd.
Do you buy treats and end up cutting them so they’re more size appropriate for training?? If so, you’ll love this recipe!
Escobar’s Training Dough
- 4 chicken tenderloins boiled
- Toss them in the blender, add 1/4 cup water (I use the water from boiling the chicken)
- 1 1/3 cup of flour (could use almond meal if you’re gluten free)
- Mix these ingredients in the stand mixer and let it go until it’s a playdough consistency. It will form a ball.
- You may need to add a little more water or little more flour depending on how you measure from the start, add slow otherwise you’ll end up with 15 pounds of training treats before you know it.
- This recipe works with any meat base, peanut butter works also just make sure to get no sugar added low sodium, you could use liver worst, beef, turkey.
- One option, roll this out and cut into tiny pieces then bake 350° for 7-10 mins.
- A second option, you can roll it out, score it and freeze it flat.
- A third option is to roll into a log and store in the refrigerator and use as desired.
My dogs like it baked and chewy. I love it because I can pinch off the smallest bit for training.