Written by @babybellslife's mom, Jazmyne.
Recap of Canine Enrichment
The saying “a tired dog is a happy dog” has been around for generations, however, most are relating this to their pet being physically tired. We all know dogs need interactions and socialization to thrive and stay out of trouble but what exactly does this mean? Physical stimulation is the obvious running, walking, fetch, hikes, etc. while mental simulation is anything that activates or enriches the brain. Both physical and mental stimulation can fall under the category of ‘enrichment’ for dogs. There’s many different types of enrichment which is where this and other blogs can come in handy! I often refer to BindisBucketList’s blog (and IG) for any enrichment advice, questions or inspiration and I definitely recommend checking her blog out because there’s so much information for everyone on there- you’ll definitely learn something new. An important note to make is to switch up the activities you’re doing with your pup so it will always be a fun and (hopefully) challenging game for them. For example, using different toys to stuff, new food dispensers, and getting creative with fun DIY toys too!
Stuffed frozen toys??
Similar to the licking Mat blog, there are toys that can be stuffed and frozen for some mental stimulation. My 5 year old Boxer, Bella, is very nervous when we’re eating in public so I will bring a towel and a frozen toy, set it on the patio and she becomes so consumed in the treat she doesn’t focus on the craziness of life around her. If she finishes before we are done eating, she is much calmer and happier than when we first arrived! I also use these when I’m relaxing in the house or doing some cleaning and she seems a little bored. The benefits are nearly endless- you may notice your pup getting into less trouble, these toys help ease separation anxiety and provide an outlet for licking and chewing which can be calming to dogs and ultimately fill their satisfaction of doing these on the appropriate objects. Not to mention, stuffing the toys is semi-relaxing to me too!
Here’s a list of different types of toys you can get, keep in mind there’s all different sizes to choose from that works best for your pet!
How to stuff the toys
Now that we know what kind of toys to use, we can discuss different recipes! The beauty of this type of enrichment is that you can tailor the ingredients to your pet and what works best for their tummies or preferences. For the best frozen results, I recommend always trying to use a ‘base’ which would be a thicker substance such as peanut butter or canned dog food mixed with adding something more liquid-based such as bone broth, goat milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, applesauce, pumpkin, even water and so much more. The last ingredients I usually use is a treat, dehydrated chew, berries, veggies or even some kibble to be mixed throughout- this can be your pups favorite treat or snack. Sometimes I will also stick a small chew inside such as a chicken foot or tendon for extra yums haha.
Bella’s Favorite Stuffed KONG Recipe
I thought it would be fun to share Bella’s favorite recipe! Although she is not a picky eater, it makes it easy to get extra creative with different ingredients I know she loves.
bone broth (make sure there’s no onions or sodium in it if you’re getting it from the grocery store)
Kibble/freeze dried food
Bella’s favorite toy to use is the West Paw Toppl.
Start off with some kibble layered with peanut butter (I also put peanut butter in the hole on the side as a ‘seal’). I layer some more of the other two dry ingredients and then add the bone broth (a few squirts from the squeeze bottle) and some dehydrated chicken and sprat on top.
Sometimes I’ll also add one of the pre-made ice cubes into it for some extra fun, I do various types from simple bone broth or goat milk, water and fruit or an “antioxidant” one (made from puréed eggplant, red cabbage, beetroot and blackberries and ginger spice)! This allows me to get really creative with this.
Once the toy is stuffed it’s best to freeze in a bowl or egg carton overnight.
Making ice cubes out of the antioxidant purée we home made.
Using a squeeze bottle to easily fill liquids such as water, bone broth or goat milk! This saves both time and frustration when trying to fill them.
Using a bowl or egg carton when freezing can help keep the freezer clean. I personally use a bowl as pictured below but egg cartoons likely work better with KONG toys.
Prepping multiple toys at once will help save time throughout the week!
We hope you can take something from this blog to try at home to help your pal get some mental stimulation! I also wanted to mention if you are feeding these multiple times during the week, consider using them as a meal replacer or feed slightly less to avoid weight gain. Check out Bindi’s Bucket List blog (https://www.bindisbucketlist.com) for tons of more information on canine enrichment! If you recreate any stuffed toys, tag WPCO so we can all see those beautiful creations!
- Jazmyne & Bella