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My 3 favorite products to get your puppy started on food toys

You've heard all about how it would solve your puppy biting problems: Give your puppy a Kong® and they'll be chewing that instead of your chair legs and slippers. In fact, when I enter homes of new puppy guardians, I often trip over empty Kong® shells, just for exhausted humans to point at it and tell me that their puppy isn't into it.

Don't get me wrong, Kongs® are fabulous, you definitely want them, and you definitely want your puppy hooked. Not only do they keep your puppy busy and teach them which objects are legal to chew on, they will also help you (and your pup) stay sane through your pup's teenage stage.

But Kongs® can be really hard for puppies to get into, literally. They're an advanced food toy as puppies have to learn to not only lick the food out of the small hole, but also to squeeze the Kong by chewing on it, so that the food loosens up and falls out.

To make it easier for your puppy to discover the joy of self-entertainment and to develop some perseverance when it comes to food toys, here are 2 easier alternatives. And some tips on how to make a Kong® work for you and your puppy (or rather: your puppy work for the Kong®).

As always, these suggestions are also picked with the environment in mind: given that they're refillable, we're hopefully keeping our dog's environmental footprint small. Most small pet supply businesses will carry them, so I recommend you shop local and support a small business.

#1: Lick mats - for beginners

I love those, because it's easy for me to spread the food, and easy for a puppy to get started with.

Just make sure to take it away after your puppy has finished, so he doesn't chew it up.

I like the original Lickimat®, but generally speaking you can look into those made out of rubber or silicone (not plastic) if you want to keep it as eco-friendly as possible.

#2: Westpaw Toppl® - the next level

Honestly, I love the company for their aim to make keeping my dog happy in a sustainable way. Plus, their products are great quality and durable.

My favorite one of their food toys is the Toppl®. Toppls® are easy to fill (and clean), and fairly easy for your puppy to eat out of. You can also get two, one of each size, and stack them together.

#3: Kong® - for puppy pros only

Finally, the Kong®. As I had said, getting food out of a Kong® can be quite difficult for dogs, and they are also a bit more annoying to fill (in my opinion). However, they do last for a long time, especially when frozen, so it's worth it teaching your puppy to enjoy them. Here are a few tips to help your puppy be successful:

  1. Buy one size bigger that you think your puppy needs as this will come with a bigger hole

  2. Start easy and smear PB or other sticky & yum food around the opening only

  3. Put some extra yummy stuff in first (making it accessible to your pup last), so that your puppy stays motivated to make it all the way through

I first start out with only little filling that is easy to get out, then move on to stuffing the Kong fully, and once my puppy or dog can master that level, I will freeze the Kong with its filling so that it will take my dog even longer. I don't usually use kibble (only) but food my dogs can lick.

What kind of food to use

Here's what I use (but, as always, please check with your vet to learn what is okay for your pup).

Most of the time I use wet food (canned dog food). However, as I try to avoid too many cans (since not the best option for the environment...), I will usually mix some of my dog's daily kibble allowance into it. Other times I will stuff them with dog friendly veggies, like cooked sweet potato or pumpkin mash.

I sometimes top it up with natural yogurt (making sure that there's no sugar or other weird ingredients added). And every once in a while my dogs will get a spoon of PB (unsalted, and without Xylitol) or cream cheese - both of these I mostly use on lickimats and only in small amounts.

How to extend the fun

Once your puppy gets the hang of it, you can freeze the food toy for your puppy to enjoy it for longer.

Another ideas is to hide the stuffed food toy instead of handing it over to your puppy "for free" (though there's nothing wrong with that). This way your puppy gets to enjoy a toy search first before indulging in the goodness.


Are you looking for more help with your puppy? Check out of free downloadable PDF with tips on potty training, socialization and a shopping list!


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