For the past five days I have been experimenting with different toys that allow me to put Nadia’s kibble in them to make her work for her food. I have compared the differences between 5 food toys. They all have pros and cons, but I was hoping this would help you to pick the right one for you and your dog! It is important to note a few things, first of all they were given to Nadia in the order they appear below, prior to being used for her breakfast Nadia has used each toy at least once, with treats in it. She regularly eats out of a stainless steel bowl, she gets 1/3 of a cup of kibble with a few broken up treats mixed in. Prior to the start of this experiment I made five bags of her pre measured food with the treats mixed in, ready to go each morning so that the time preparing her food would not be taken into consideration with everything else. As for the length of time each toy takes, it is important to remember that Nadia, like most dogs, gets better and better at “hunting” for her food the more I give her toys like this, so this may account for the shorter time lengths of the later tested toys.
Premier Busy Buddy Kibble Nibble
The Kibble Nibbler comes in two different sizes to accommodate dogs of different sizes. With my dog since she is 20 pounds I find I can use either size.
Preparation: The rubber teeth at either end need to be trimmed to accommodate your specific kibble size, and this can be a somewhat difficult process. Try not to trim too much off all at once because this will make this toy far too easy for your dog and the kibble will fall right out! The process took me about 15 minutes when I first bought the toy. I took a large piece of my dog’s kibble and tested how easily it would fall through the opening as I trimmed one tooth only slightly at a time, until I had trimmed all four a bit.
The rubber that surrounds this egg shaped toy makes it good for tough chewers and helps make it quieter. This toy does tend to roll under things, which can be annoying. When there are only a few pieces of kibble left, they don’t come out easily, Nadia kept trying, but it could be frustrating for some dogs.
Time to Fill: 1 Minute
Time: 20+ minutes Nadia ended up with about 5 pieces of kibble that wouldn’t just fall out on their own so I ended up opening the toy and letting her eat them, but this was easy enough and did not take extra time to empty. Cleaning with warm water and gentle soap was easy enough.
Average Price: $12
Premier Busy Buddy Magic Mushroom
The Magic Mushroom comes in two different sizes to accommodate dogs of different sizes. With my dog since she is 20 pounds I find I can use either size. The Premier website does not reflect their new smaller size available in the magic mushroom, but I have both sizes and have seen the smaller one in several pet stores. The Magic Mushroom is noisy! I practice with Nadia to teach her to keep her toys on the carpet, but when it would roll off onto the wood floor it made a lot of noise, and Nadia loved to pick-up and drop this toy even on the carpet it made a lot of noise. Nadia loves this toy and will continue to play with it long after it is empty. As a general rule, to keep these toys high value, I don’t allow her to play with the toys too long after they are empty, but with this one I notice she stays interested in chasing it around.
Preparation: There is an opening where the kibble will come from and it can be opened half way or the full way depending on the size of the kibble you are using.
This toy also tends to roll around and under things a lot.
Time to Fill: 1 Minute
Time: 20 minutes
Average Price: $15
Nina Ottosson Dog Treat Maze
The treat Maze comes in several different sizes including a cat option! Hand wash only, but not difficult to clean. Only good for dry foods and treats.
Filling this toy each day is a bit tedious, and does take about 3 minutes, which is the longest of all the toys. The kibble starts to fall out as it gets full. This is a sturdy toy that will likely hold up to the serious chewers, especially with the different size options.
Nadia finished this one very quickly.
Preparation: None it is ready to use right out of the box
This toy is very skinny and does spin and roll under the furniture.
Time to Fill: 5 minutes
Time: 5 minutes, Nadia worked through this one the fastest.
Average Price: $16
Northmate Interactive Green Dog Feeder
This is large, and does not come in different size options. It is also a bit more expensive than the other toys. This is the only toy that is advertised as being dishwasher safe, but I don’t have a dishwasher so it was rather tedious to clean, it took the longest to clean by hand. It is well made and seems like it would hold up to even the strongest of chewers.
Preparation: None, this is ready to use, out of the box.
Time to Fill: 1 minute
Time: 10 Minutes
Average Price: $35
Home-Made Kibble Toy, using a plastic bottle
Prep Time: 20 minutes to clean, and cut the bottle so it will be a fun treat dispensing toy. I have used a knife and scissor to cut four holes into a long narrow plastic bottle. I used a piece of Nadia’s kibble to be sure the openings were big enough but not too big.
Time to Fill: 1 minute
Time: 10 minutes
As far as the time goes you can make this toy as easy or as hard as you want because you can cut as many or as few holes in the bottle to accommodate your dog. If she is great at food stuffed toys, then maybe only cut one or two holes into the bottle. If your dog is just learning about these toys and sometimes isn’t too food motivated, cut up to five holes in the bottle so it is easier for your dog to earn a reward.
Average Price: It depends on the kind of bottle used, but you also get whatever was in the bottle, so technically this toy could be considered free!
In conclusion, there are several different food dispensing toy options out there, and they are great for you dog for so many reasons! Make your dog work for his meals to help get his energy out, allow him to use his cognitive skills for problem solving, and slow down his food intake to keep him healthier. I think it is best to have a few different options for your dog, and hopefully you can choose the one that is right for you and your dog using the above information!