Monday, December 16, 2013

The Twelve Dog Days of Christmas, Day Three

These are a few of my favorite things!
EverythingDogBlog #103: Day Three - Foraging for Food is Fun

On the third dog day of Christmas I decided to throw away my dog's dog food bowl and feed him creatively. I made dinner last longer so he will eat slower and not ‘wolf’ down his food. Foraging for food is fun for dogs (and funny to the folks watching).
I often wax poetic about the value of ‘alternatives to the dog food bowl,’ and I have over the years written about them, from handfeeding to treasure hunts to food puzzles. Dog trainers call this, enrichment.

The Buster Cube (above) is probably the original food puzzle – a hard plastic cube that holds kibble and dispenses it at various times when the cube is pushed around and over. It can be made more difficult for smart dogs.
Nina Ottoson ( then flew with the idea and came up with incredible puzzles of varying difficulties, first made of pressed board, then plastic. Dogs have to push little covers (or other things) to reveal pieces of kibble. The tornado, the casino, the brick, . . . .
2013 brought two new innovative food puzzles that I love – the Green and the Maze.
The Green, by Northmate – A Slow Feeder for the Puppy Within 

(Boxes of Greens for the Holidays!)
Believe it or not, the Green (photos courtesy of Northmate) is actually green (teal, green or dark green) and resembles hard, fat ‘blades’ of grass. Dog tongues reach down between the blades to scarf up pieces of kibble. It takes about 15 times longer to eat from a Green than from a dog food bowl! I even timed it! See illustration below for "How To Go Green."
Go Green!
Larger than a dinner plate, the Green also comes in a mini version for little dogs and a purple version called Catch for cats.
“Eat slow. Be healthy. Have fun.”
The Maze, a Food Puzzle 

(Above: The Buster Dog Maze) 
Also from Denmark, available in black, tan, or light gray, and larger than a dinner plate, the Maze is also one piece and looks like a maze (see third photo). Like the Green, dog tongues reach down to scarf up pieces of kibble, but, in addition, can push kibble in two directions off the maze to fall off onto the floor. I have found that most dogs love the Maze, as opposed to the Green which dogs either love or don't.
Click on some of the links above to watch videos of dogs in action.
Tomorrow: Comfy and Stylish Collars for Canines
Disclaimer: I purchased both of these interactive feeders at local independent dog stores: the Green at Clipper’s Canine Café in Savage Mill, MD, and the Maze at My Pet Store and More in Ellicott City, MD, near the "Enchanted Forest."
(This article first appeared on, 16 December 2013.)

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