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The 7 Best Work-To-Eat Dog Enrichment Toys

As a dog trainer and behavior consultant, I am constantly recommending that my clients introduce more work-to-eat enrichment into their dog’s lives. But just how do you do that? Which are the best puzzle feeders and canine enrichment toys?
 
That’s what I’m here to answer today.
 
I am ranking my all-time favorite enrichment toys, puzzle toys, and treat dispensers! But first:
 

What are enrichment toys?

If you don’t know what they are, they are durable, hollow chew toys that you can fill with your dog’s food or treats. Working to unpack their food from these toys is great fun for most dogs. And, it provides an outlet for their natural desire to work for their food.
 

Types of enrichment toys:

Stuffable Toys (think: Kongs)

Best for dogs who eat soft food for their main diet. These usually have a large opening for ease of filling with a combination of wet and dry foods, and they tend to be easy to clean. Can be frozen to give experienced puzzlers an added challenge.
 

Treat balls, dispensers, and puzzles

Best for dry foods like kibble pieces or treats. Great way to feed your dog’s meals if they eat kibble. For soft-diet dogs, you can still give dispenser toys and food puzzles filled with treats throughout the day.
 

Best enrichment toys and puzzle feeders for dogs

As ranked by a professional dog trainer

I am kind of a fanatic about dog gear and dog enrichment. So suffice to say that I have some opinions about enrichment toys!
 
I’ve created this list to help you find enrichment toys that are:
  • Easy to fill
  • Easy to clean
  • Versatile
  • Fun and a good difficulty level for most dogs
 

A note on puzzle toys:

Puzzle toys can be lots of fun! However, they are not my personal favorite enrichment toys for a couple reasons. I prefer enrichment toys (both that I use and for my clients) that require less of your time to fill, and that will occupy your dog’s time for longer. More bang-for-your-enrichment-buck if you will. The other reason is that puzzles are designed to be challenging. Solving a tricky puzzle can be very entertaining for some dogs, while others will get frustrated and give up very quickly.
 
In this list, I want to focus on the enrichment toys that will appeal to the greatest number of dogs without causing frustration. Plus, I find that puzzle toys are not as practical or versatile for feeding full meals efficiently and their uses are more limited.
 
So although they don’t make an appearance on this list, know that puzzle toys can be another excellent enrichment activity if you have a real worker-bee type dog.

7. Snuffle Mat

A snuffle mat is a great alternative to feeding kibble straight out of a bowl. Just portion out your dog’s meal, then sprinkle the kibble pieces between the strips of fabric.
 
The one downside to a snuffle mat is they are not the easiest to clean as compared to some other toys on this list. Depending how it is made, most can be thrown into the washing machine. Check with the seller for instructions on how to clean yours.
 
You can find snuffle mats on Amazon, pet supply retailers, or handmade by various sellers on Etsy. You might also be able to find a seller local to you at craft shows and dog events. Or, make your own!

6. LickiMat

I love lickmats for their ease of use. Just spread your soft food of choice, top with treats or kibbles, and boom! These also work great in the freezer.
 
I use these for brushing time in my house. My dog can lick the mat while still making it easy for me to brush her. And I don’t have to worry about her trying to pick up the mat and roam off with it like I might with other food toys.
 
Heads up – The material of the regular LickiMat is fairly durable, but on the softer side. So if you have a voracious chewer, opt for the more durable, “Tuff” version of the LickiMat. And make sure to actively supervise chewing time as always.

5. Kong Wobbler

I love the Kong Wobbler for feeding full meals of kibble. This toy can hold a TON of food. So the wobbler is my recommendation for larger-breed dogs, since you won’t have to fill 5 different toys in order to give out your dog’s meal.
 
Dogs can paw at the Wobbler or push it around with their nose. I like how each dog can develop their own strategy for getting the treats out. I also like how it relies on a tipping motion so that it tends to stay more in one place rather than rolling all around the floor and getting trapped under furniture.

4. Orbee Tuff Snoop + Nook

Once your dog is experienced with enrichment toys, some treat dispenser toys become too easy. That is when I love the Snoop, especially with the accompanying “Nook” insert. The Nook fits perfectly into the opening of the Snoop, which increases the challenge significantly and allows you to use smaller pieces of food without them falling right out.
 
This is my favorite treat dispenser for my dog Ciara. It is easy to fill, and quiet due to the soft rubber-like material (well, except for when she decides to chuck it around the room at high speed!).
 
She gets all the treats out of other toys in seconds. But this one lasts her more like 5-10 minutes and provides her with a lot more fun.
 
The Snoop is also great on its own (without the optional “Nook” insert) as an easy-intermediate difficulty enrichment feeder.

3. SodaPup Can Toys

SodaPup toys win the award for cuteness factor! SodaPup makes a variety of stuffable food toys and treat dispensers. Check out the adorable Soda Can (similar to a Kong Classic) or Coffee Cup treat dispenser. They also offer their own line of lickmats, “e-mats”.

2. West Paw Toppl

The Toppl is a favorite among dog trainers and dog owners alike. The wide opening makes it one of the easiest to fill. And it can hold large quantities of soft foods. It freezes super well. This makes it the best work-to-eat option in my opinion for dogs on a soft-food diet. Dogs also just seem to love eating out of this toy.
 
Two Toppl toys of different sizes can be interlocked to increase the difficulty level.

1. Kong Classic

It’s a classic for a reason!
 
The Kong Classic toy is iconic and tops out my list of the best canine enrichment toys. It is incredibly versatile – fill it with kibble, training treats, soft food, a mixture, freeze or don’t freeze – it’s up to you!
 
It comes in a great range of sizes to suit any dog. And the irregular shape, bounce, and durable make means that many dogs enjoy playing with kongs even without the addition of food.

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Mara Clare Van Valzah, CTC, PNWI

Mara Clare Van Valzah, CTC, PNWI

Dog Trainer & Behavior Consultant

I founded Collaborative Canines to help dog owners to better understand, communicate with, and coexist with their pets. Here, I share my dog training stories, tips, and tricks with you and other dog lovers all over the world. 

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I help dog owners just like you find better lives with their dogs every day. If you live near Anaheim, CA, and your pup could use some guidance, contact me!

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