At some point, all owners of bored, anxious, or destructive dogs are told to try giving their dogs a food-stuffed Kong or Toppl – but unless the toys are properly packed, the food will be consumed too quickly, or not at all. Here’s how to fill the interior of the toys with layers of high-value foods, so your dog will be motivated to work at the task of getting all of the food out – and so the process will take lots of time and diligence, which provides mental stimulation, relieves boredom, and keeps the dog from eating too fast.
What to put into a Kong or Toppl
To make a stuffed toy interesting, go beyond your dog’s usual kibble and peanut butter and employ a variety of healthy, delicious ingredients – and for maximum appeal, assemble the ingredients in layers. You can also stir the ingredients together before stuffing, but we’ve found that packing the various ingredients into the toys in layers keeps a dog engaged to the very end. Try different combinations of these canine favorite foods:
- Unsweetened, salt-free peanut or almond butter (check labels to avoid xylitol, which is toxic to dogs).
- Plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or cream cheese.
- Mashed, plain cooked sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, or green beans.
- Baked sweet potato chews or crunchy crackers.
- Chopped hard-boiled eggs.
- Plain unsweetened applesauce.
- Chopped or ground beef, turkey, chicken, or fish.
- Canned dog food.
- Fresh fruits like blueberries, strawberries, apples, bananas, or melon, cut into chunks or pureed.
- Shredded coconut.
- Any favorite kibble or dog treat.
If assembling a toy to serve to your dog immediately, you can keep things tidy by temporarily sealing the top layer with a flat piece of cheese or a layer of nut butter. If you have time, or are filling a number of toys for use over a period of days, finish the preparation by putting the food-filled toys in the freezer. Frozen treats last longer and satisfy dogs by revealing layers of flavor a little at a time.
How to serve a food-stuffed toy
Depending on the hollow toy’s size, you can feed an afternoon snack, dessert, or even part or all of your dog’s dinner. Use appropriate proportions and ingredients for your dog’s size and feeding schedule.
Your dog’s crate or another protected location lined with a towel or mat is ideal for feeding a well-stuffed hollow toy. Colorful ingredients can stain floors and fabrics, and frozen treats can make a mess as they melt – and your dog will enjoy every minute!