End the Cycle of Boredom - Enrich Your Primitive Dog’s Mealtime

Most owners don’t realize that feeding their dog out of a bowl is the greatest missed opportunity of their dog’s daily life. That’s 2-3 opportunities a day - 14-21 opportunities a week! That’s almost 1000 missed opportunities a year!

What are owners missing out on? The chance to give their dog something that will lower anxiety, build confidence, improve digestion, help prevent choking, reduce the onset of separation anxiety, reduce destructive chewing, reduce barking, and help stave off cognitive dysfunction caused by old age. The simple change is throwing out your dog’s food bowl and giving your dog a food dispensing toy.

Most owners don’t realize that 15-20 minutes of operating a food puzzle burns a significant amount of mental energy. For some dogs they can be wiped out for hours after. The reason for the improved behaviors following a food toy, is that the act of eating while working on a challenge reduces stress, anxiety, and other behavior problem. So instead of dropping food into a bowl and walking away, take 3-5 extra minutes are set your dog up for a stimulating experience that will leave them content and relaxed for hours.

Don’t let another meal be a wasted opportunity to turn your dog into the perfect companion. If you are the DIY type, you can make one at home right now by digging through your recycling bin and turning that plastic jug or water bottle into a kibble dispenser.

Niki loves her Buster Cube!

Niki loves her Buster Cube!

If you like to feed things like canned food, dehydrated, or raw you’re not out of luck. There are lots of toys you can make or are on the market that will suit your needs too. In fact if you feed wet spot foods, you can take it up a notch and freeze your dog’s meals overnight so that they take even longer to consume. Here is link to using food toys if you feed raw.

Going out for the day? Leave your dog with a food toy that will keep them buy while you’re gone. Just be sure to pick a toy they won’t ingest - just the food inside. Give them to your dog when company is over so they mind their manners and relax while you entertain. And don’t forget in the car, the vet waiting room, and even on a restaurant patio. The times when you can give a food puzzle are limitless.

You’re also cutting down on vet bills. Slowing down eating allows for better digestion and prevents life threatening health emergencies like bloat. And for puppies it spreads out digestion which helps with house training. Older dogs thrive on food toys as well because the use of problem solving slows the effects of canine cognitive disorder.

If you have a multi-dog household be considerate and keep dogs separated when using food toys. Dog’s who are insecure or like to bully other dogs will make turn these objects into things to fight over. So in multi-dog homes, give them to your dogs in crates, or separate your dogs with baby gates.

Get creative. I highly suggest you have more than one. Variety is the spice of life after all and you want to keep your dog challenged. Below is a long list of a variety of different options based on type. Pick ones you know your dog will like, are tough enough if you have a super chewer, or get a variety to keep your dog guessing. Note that I have not suggested ones marketed specifically to puppies  as they are usually too soft and become dangerous as the dog gets older. You also do not want to start a precedent of being able to tear the toy apart.

Finally be sure to observe your dog using each toy at least once or twice to ensure your dog is not breaking off pieces or ingesting parts. Every dog is different and you might need to try a few before you find just the right ones. Once you make this your new routine you’ll have a whole different experience with your pet. I can tell you from personal experience - none of my dogs eat out of a bowl and when you put one in front of them with the option of a food toy instead - they pick the food toy!

Kibble Dispensers

Busy Buddy Kibble Nibble Meal Dispensing Toy

Busy Buddy Magic Mushroom Meal Dispensing Toy

Busy Buddy Tug-A-Jug Meal Dispensing Toy

KONG Wobbler

Kruuse Buster Cube

Kruuse Buster Ball

Kruuse Buster Cube - soft

Omega Tricky Treat Ball

Starmark Everlasting Fun Ball

Starmark Bob-A-Lot

Nina Ottosson Treat Maze

Treat and Train

DIY PVC pipe - Screw on caps for the ends and drill holes for the kibble to fall out.

DIY Plastic bottle or container - make your own dispenser out of just about anything in your recycling container.

DIY Plastic bottle spinner - take your DIY bottle to the next level with this spinner toy


Hollow Toys

Busy Buddy Twist & Treat

Busy Buddy Squirrel Dude

Busy Buddy Barnacle Toy

Busy Buddy Cow-wow

KONG Classic - Red - for regular chewers

KONG Classic - Black - for tough chewers

KONG Genius Mike

Puzzle Bowls

Northmate Green Feeder

Kyjen Fun Feeder



Puzzle Toys (supervision required)

Nina Ottosson Brick

Nina Ottosson Tornado

Ethical Pet Seek-A-Treat Shuffle Bone


Share your dog’s food toy adventures on our Facebook group. We love to see busy and happy primitive dogs!

*Portions of this article were originally posted on the Kindred Companions website.