A New Kind of Stuffed Toy   2 comments

No, I’m not talking about stuffed animals or plush squeaky toys, I’m talking about dog toys that you stuff with food. These interactive toys have a myriad of benefits both for your dog and for you. Is your dog bored and acting out (barking, digging, chewing, etc.)? A stuffed toy will exercise her brain and make her think, helping to mentally tire her out so she has less excess energy to burn. Do you need to work on something without your dog’s undivided attention? Give her a toy stuffed with food she enjoys, and she will stay occupied while you work. Does your dog inhale her food, keeping her from getting all of the nutritional value from it and possibly leading to coprophagia (eating poo)? Put her meal in a stuffed toy so she can only eat small amounts at a time. When you leave does your dog get anxious and stressed? Always leave her a toy stuffed with a well-liked food, so she has something to look forward to at your parting.

To introduce a stuffed toy to your dog, first load it so that the food will fall out at a slight touch. Give your dog the toy, and sit with her. If she’s not trying to figure out how to get the food out, push the toy around some to encourage her, and let her eat any food that falls out. Each time you bring out the toy you can make it a little harder for her to get the food out. Before long she’ll be wagging her tail as soon as you pick it up!

There are a variety of stuffed toys, with more being developed all the time. Some are designed to handle dry food, some to handle wet or smearable food, and a few can handle either. Here is a selection of some of the stuffable toys I have found most widely useful and appealing to dogs:

Note: I did not receive any promotion or compensation for suggesting these toys.

Busy Buddy Twist ‘n Treat


This is one of my favorite interactive toys, because it can be used in so many ways! The Twist ‘n Treat is made up of two halves that screw together in the middle, each of which has two divots in the edge that food can fall out of. Your dog noses, paws, or tosses the toy to cause dry food to fall out of the openings, or licks in the opening to get smear-able food out. The size of the openings is adjustable – the tighter you twist the two halves, the smaller the openings. Because of this, Twist ‘n Treat can be filled with dry food or treats of many different sizes, and still be challenging and fun. Additionally, this lets you adjust the difficulty level for your dog; if you want to keep him busy for awhile, twist it tighter so he has to work harder for each piece of food, if you just want to slow him down so he doesn’t eat too quickly you twist it less so food falls out easily but isn’t all available at once. This also lets you set it wider and smear peanut butter or other similar foods on the inside for your dog to lick out. The Twist ‘n Treat comes in three sizes and two strengths of plastic (a lighter purple for puppies and a darker purple for dogs), so you can find one that’s perfect for your dog!



The KONG is a classic toy that many dog owners have heard of. It comes in multiple strengths of rubber, including rubber designed for puppy chewing, average chewing, heavy chewing, and senior chewing, and a variety of sizes, so there is a KONG for every dog. It is a hollow, bulbous toy with a medium sized hold in the wide end and a very small hole in the small end. It can be filled with a wide variety of foods, but most commonly owners will smear peanut butter on an inner surface. Because of the odd shape and the single access point, dogs have to work hard to get all of the peanut butter out, and really think about how to move their tongue and hold the toy. In addition to peanut butter, a KONG can be filled with a wide variety of fruits, veggies, breads, baby food, wet food, and even dry food if the large opening is capped with a substance like peanut butter. For relief from teething or a cool treat on a hot day, the KONG can be stuffed and frozen. This also typically increases the difficulty for the dog to empty the KONG.

Tricky Treats Ball

Tricky Treat Ball

The Tricky Treats Ball is a hard plastic ball with many divots shaped into it. One of those divots is actually a hole, leading to the hollow interior of the ball. Your dog noses or paws the ball, causing food to fall out of the hole.There is a lip around the edge of the hole, so food doesn’t fall out too easily, especially once the ball starts to get lower on food. The ball is not adjustable, but if you’re OK with your dog chasing a ball around your house, this toy may keep him entertained for a long time!

Buster Cube


The Buster Cube is a large, hard plastic cube with a hole in one side, which dry treats fall out of when the cube is pushed. The toy is adjustable; by rotating the central chamber you can change how hard it is for the food to fall out. The Buster Cube is a difficult toy for dogs to play with, its sides are smooth plastic so claws and teeth cannot grip it. However, if you have a larger dog who can figure it out, it can hold a lot of food and keep him entertained for a long time!

KONG Goodie Bone


For a bone-oriented dog, this toy is a great choice! Shaped as a fairly large rubber bone, each end has a notched hollow tube running through it, perfect for stuffing full of cheese, peanut butter, wet food, or other goodies your dog likes. Because of the ridges and the dimensions of the hole this can keep a motivated dog busy for a long time. Even after much of the food is gone it is still a fun shape to chew that can keep her working! If your dog is interested, this is often an especially good toy to give them when you’re leaving, since it is challenging and fun enough to capture their attention and keep it until long after they’re worried about your absence.

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Posted January 8, 2010 by Eileen in Training Tools

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2 responses to “A New Kind of Stuffed Toy

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  1. One word of caution, if I may…

    I read several articles about toys/balls that can be stuffed that recommended we be certain there are at least 2 holes in the toy, as some dogs have gotten their tongues stuck in similar toys where there was only one opening.

    Pulling the tongue out created a suction and the dog’s tongue swelled, preventing it from being removed. Several dogs have reportedly required some amputation of part of their tongues due to blood supply being interrupted.

    We have the Kong ball, used it outside to teach ‘get it’ and ‘bring it’. We loved it! Kodiak enjoyed getting the broken up biscuits out of it and willingly brought it back knowing I would put more treats inside.

    Hope you don’t mind that I shared that bit of information. :)

  2. Pingback: Carnival for Pet Writers | PETS -N- THINGS ONLINE

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