Sometimes I feel like educational dog toy companies such as the Kong Company should hire me to be their pitchwoman because I am constantly encouraging dog owners/parents to get their dogs solving food puzzles. Food puzzles are basically toys that have openings where you can stuff kibble, wet food, or anything else yummy so that your dog can spend hours digging it out. I’ve met so many dogs that have become destructive simply out of pure boredom, left home alone with nothing to do except chew on the coffee table. What food dispensing toys do is give your dog an appropriate activity to engage in so that they never feel the satisfaction that comes with eating your gym shoes or underwear. It can also be a great tool for those who have dogs suffering from isolation distress or separation anxiety. Give your dog a toy stuffed with irresistable boiled chicken or any other high value food and leave it with them before you step out. Your dog will start to understand that when you leave, something good happens to them and because they’ll spend at least a good number of minutes (if not more) emptying out the toy, they might actually take their mind off the fact that you’ve disappeared.*
My dog, Lucy, has a collection of food puzzles. She gets several each day to ward off boredom and to help keep her mentally stimulated. Our latest favorite is the Bob-a-Lot made by Starmark. It’s made of hard plastic, so it’s virtually indestructible. It’s a guaranteed good time!* Food dispensing toys could be incorporated into a behavior modification plan to help ease separation anxiety, but is not the sole answer to the problem. Seek the advice of a Certified Pet Dog Trainer in your area or a Veterinary Behaviorist.