Challenge and Engage Your Dog with Treats

By Marjie Alonso, IAABC

Just like humans, dogs need ways to engage their minds and bodies to stay in good mental and physical shape. After spending all day at work, you may just want to feed your dog, take him for a walk and head for the couch, but he might need a little more activity than that. The good news is there are ways to give your dog his daily calories that can engage his brain, enhance his sense of fun and training and allow you to spend some quality time together. Toys paired with aromatic treats will engage your dog’s senses and challenge him to work to reach the delicious smell.


Sold under the brand name “Kong,” these hollow rubber cones are a dog owner’s best friend. Simply fill them with pieces of a high-quality, aromatic dog biscuit, such as Vita Bone Artisan Inspired Biscuits, some or all of your dog’s daily food and maybe a few yummy leftovers to top it off. You can even stick it in the freezer to make it more challenging to eat. Your dog will get his meal over the course of many minutes as he works the food out of the Kong, licking, bouncing and chasing his dinner in a happy game. These are also great for crate training, giving him something fun and rewarding to do during down time.

Lunch Bag Hunting 

A canine’s natural instinct is to hunt prey, or in this case the Wild Lunch Bag. Take some of your dog’s kibble or a broken-up dog biscuit and put it in a paper lunch bag. Inflate the bag so it’s not flat and then fold or tape the end shut. Shake it so it makes an interesting noise, toss it into the air or throw it in the yard and let your dog hunt.

Feeding Toys 

There is a growing variety of feeding toys for dogs, like Kong Wobblers and Pawzzles, Busy Buddies, Tug-a-Jugs, Kibble Nibbles and many others. The thing all of these toys have in common is the way they dispense treats or kibble a few nuggets at a time. It’s great to watch your dog sit, think and puzzle over the secret to obtaining the loot – often solved by bashing the thing with joyous abandon.

Paper Towel Rolls and Cardboard Boxes 

Place pieces of broken up dog biscuit or kibble in a cardboard tube or box. Wrap it in wrapping or tissue paper and let your dog shred away. You can really have fun by choosing small or giant options for your dog to investigate and tear apart. The tougher to break into, the better the challenge and the greater the fun.

While you’re exploring these new ways to challenge your dog, be sure to keep the calories under control and the quality of the food high. Vita Bone Artisan Inspired Biscuits are great for these games and can be found at Walmart. Full of real meat, vegetables and fruit, they have a delicious aroma and come in a variety of flavors. When selecting other items to put into the toys, avoid raisins, grapes, chocolate or onions, as these are toxic to pets. Check the ingredients of the treats and food before you buy them to ensure the healthiest option for your four-legged friend.

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