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We’ve partnered with Barking Hound Village to provide training resources for pet owners who need assistance. Learn more about preventing rude behavior in your dog by watching the video and reading the training guide below.

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Almost all breeds of dog were created to work, and not just the obvious breeds like Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, and German Shepherds. Poodles were one of the first retrievers and can have a very high work drive, which is something that everyone with doodle family members may be familiar with. Great Pyrenees may not have been bred to run around all day, but they were definitely meant to be alert and ready all day while guarding their flock. Even our Labs and Goldens were meant to work. It’s why part of their name, Retriever, is an action word.

Your dog’s not-so-distant ancestors spent all day working in some capacity. It is only recently that we began asking dogs to lay around at home all day. Engaging your dog with mental and physical exercise is crucial to raising and maintaining a well-behaved dog. Food and treat-dispensing toys are one of the best and easiest ways to provide your dog with additional mental and physical stimulation beyond normal walks and socialization. And when used correctly, these toys can teach your young and energetic dog exactly how you would like them to behave as they get older.

There are two main categories of food and treat-dispensing toys that we like. There are those that are hollow with larger openings, meant for smearables like peanut butter, non-fat yogurt, sweet potato, pumpkin, and wet dog food, in addition to those with smaller holes meant for dry food and small treats. For smearable toys, put them in the freezer after you fill them to ensure they last as long as possible and keep the mess to a minimum. This is especially helpful if you have a puppy because the cold temperature will ease the pain associated with teething. The standard Kong toy is the most ubiquitous of these toys, but there are plenty in all kinds of different shapes and sizes.

Toys with smaller holes require your dog to push them around with their nose and paws as the treats or food slowly come out and will therefore provide additional physical exercise. Some of our favorite toys are the Kong Wobbler, the Starmark Bob-a-Lot, and the Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Snoop Toy.

There are a number of ways you can use these toys to prevent inappropriate behavior and teach your dog something more appropriate. If you have a dog that likes to chew on things they shouldn’t, make the common chewing areas magic. Whether it’s a kitchen with some tasty molding or the kids’ playroom with toys all over the floor, your dog will think a tasty goody magically appeared in the area if you put one of these dispensing toys there. They will often look for more of these toys instead of the tasty molding or kid toy.

If you have a high-energy dog, burn their energy with a Find It game. Spread at least 3 toys around a room when your dog isn’t around. Then bring them in, tell them to “find it,” and let them start sniffing for the toys. As they begin learning the game, you can spread the toys out farther from each other and eventually hide them throughout your entire home. Done right, a Find It game with some dispensing toys can take a dog over an hour to complete.

For high excitement situations or those that cause your dog to become fearful, these dispensing toys are a great way to redirect your dog’s attention. They will help keep your dog calm when guests come over and make them more comfortable when it’s storming outside. And the best part is that you won’t need these toys forever. If you give your dog something to focus on when guests first come in – at a time when your dog’s adrenaline is spiking – their body will begin conditioning to a calmer state during this triggering situation. And for those dogs that are fearful of a situation, a high value distraction like these toys will add something positive to the unwelcome event, causing your dog to become more and more comfortable when it happens again in the future.

It’s important to note that any additional food or treats you give your dog outside their normal mealtime is part of their daily amount of calories, not in addition to. If your dog is food motivated enough, you can feed them their meals with these toys. It’s a free time to give them extra exercise and is already part of your routine. And you should always be safe when using these toys. Do not leave your dog unsupervised with anything they can chew pieces from or that poses a choking hazard.

These food and treat dispensing toys are wonderful, but they’re only the first step in turning your rambunctious pup into a well-behaved adult. For more training information, check out Barking Hound Village at barkinghoundvillage.com/training or contact them at (404) 369-2014 and [email protected].

June 28, 2022

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