Consider the Kong Classic. DVGRR dogs get peanut butter-filled Kongs at bedtime, and each dog gets one in the adoption bag. There are many yummy recipes for stuffing a Kong. The most used is probably peanut butter. You can also use canned pumpkin, yogurt, squirtable cheese, etc. If you need to keep your dog busy for an extended period, you can stuff multiple Kongs with a portion of his normal daily food ration. If it’s dry kibble, moisten it with water or a bit of one of the other ingredients mentioned. Then freeze it. He can eat his entire daily meal from Kongs. It’s always a good idea to have a few in the freezer for when guests show up unexpectedly or repairmen arrive. Kongs can be a wonderful distraction. The Kong Classic comes in different sizes, so be sure you get the appropriate size for your dog. If he is a hard chewer, err on the bigger side. They also come in black and red; the black is stronger rubber.
The Kong Company makes other food-dispensing toys that are suitable for adding dry kibble or a small treat. There are also other companies that make hard rubber, treat-dispensing toys. Planet Dog’s Orbee Tough line has a few neat toys that hold kibble. Basically, anything sturdy with holes can be stuffed with something. You can fill several different kibble-dispensing toys and place them in a bowl or small bucket. (Ensure the bucket is large enough, so your dog can’t get his head stuck in it.) The dog will have to work to get the toys out of the bowl or bucket and then work to get the food out of each individual toy.
There are other puzzles that are more stationary. Nina Ottosson makes a line of puzzles, pricy but good quality. The dog may have to remove cups or spin the top around to get to the food. There are puzzles for all skill levels. (See “The Pick” for a selection of these toys.) For some dogs, simply putting their food into a muffin tin and placing tennis balls in the cups over the food can be a challenge.
Make your dog work for his meals and tire him out! As they say, a tired dog is a happy dog…with happy owners.