Three ways to surprise and delight your pet at mealtime
Pet parents sometimes feel their dog doesn’t dig in with the same gusto at mealtime. Could they be bored with their dog food? Or are they being picky? Absolutely, and mixing up the routine can help. In this blog, we will explore three ways you can incorporate fun and interactive elements into mealtime to stimulate them mentally and physically while providing some solid bonding time with you.
Stimulate their brains
- Puzzle Feeders: Unleashing the hunter’s instinct is one way to make feeding time more stimulating for your dog. Puzzle feeders are interactive toys that require your dog to work for their food. They come in various forms, such as treat-dispensing balls, puzzle mats, or even intricate puzzle boxes. The challenge of figuring out how to access the food keeps your dog engaged and mentally sharp. Not only does this provide mental stimulation, but it can also help slow down fast eaters, promoting better digestion. We love using our freeze-dried dog foods in these because they tend to crumble a little and are a fragrant incentive for your dog.
To get started with a puzzle feeder, choose one that matches your dog’s size and difficulty level. Begin by placing a portion of their meal or freeze-dried treat inside the puzzle toy and let them explore it on their own. You can gradually increase the complexity of the puzzle as your dog becomes more proficient. Not only will this make mealtime more enjoyable, but it will also provide a healthy outlet for their mental and physical energy. You can use puzzle feeders as the mechanism to deliver their meals. If you use it to provide snacks, just be sure to subtract those calories at mealtimes.
Turn on their nose
- DIY Snuffle Mats: These scent-filled adventure snuffle mats are a are fantastic DIY project that engages your dog’s sense of smell and provides a reward. These mats consist of a base with a thick layer of fabric strips or fleece tied onto it, creating a soft and snuggly surface. The idea is to hide small portions of your dog’s food among the fabric strips, challenging them to sniff and search for their meal.
To make a snuffle mat, gather an old rubber mat or a piece of non-slip material as the base. Cut fleece fabric into long strips and securely tie them onto the base, ensuring they are evenly spread out. Sprinkle kibble or treats among the fabric strips, allowing your dog to use their nose to find and forage for their food. This activity engages their natural instincts while providing mental stimulation and a delightful feeding experience. If you’re a visual learner, check out this video guide on how to make a snuffle mat from the American Humane Society. Other options are to hide small, smelly treats like meatballs or liver in rolled up socks or towels.
Mix training with feeding
- Training and Trick Incorporation: Learning with rewards feeding time can also be an excellent opportunity to incorporate training and teach your dog new tricks while enjoying their meal. This idea combines mental stimulation, obedience training, and bonding time all at once. Begin by selecting a few basic commands or tricks that you would like your dog to learn or improve upon, such as “sit,” “stay,” or “shake hands.”
During feeding time, hold your dog’s attention by using the food as a reward. Ask them to perform a command or trick before each meal portion. For example, you can ask your dog to sit before placing the bowl down or have them give you their paw before giving them their food. This not only stimulates their minds, but also reinforces positive behaviors and strengthens the bond between you and your pet. Remember to keep the training sessions short, positive, and rewarding. By integrating training exercises into feeding time, you transform a routine activity into a fun learning experience for your dog.
Feeding time doesn’t have to be a monotonous affair for your canine companion. By implementing these three ideas – puzzle feeders, DIY snuffle mats, and training incorporation – you can turn mealtime into an exciting and engaging event. These interactive activities stimulate your dog’s mental and physical abilities, providing enrichment and creating a stronger bond between you and your furry friend. So, unleash your creativity to bust through your dog’s boredom.