August 2019

Audience: Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers

Food-dispensing toys provide mental enrichment and physical stimulation for your dog. They can be used in a variety of situations from keeping a bored dog entertained to relieving anxiety when the dog is left alone. They are useful for crate training and for slowing down those dogs who inhale their food. By offering your dogs meals in a food-dispensing toy, your dog has something to play with, instead of your furniture or favorite shoes and they get exercise.

Here are some food-dispensing toys to consider:


  • Safety Tip: Remember to always supervise your dog's first encounters with these toys, before you leave them alone with food-dispensing toys. Observe behavior and see if any of the toys are too small or too challenging for your dog, falling apart and/or have sharp edges.
  • When first offering your dog a food-dispensing toy, you might need to help them a little. Move the toy around so that the dog sees some treats fall out. Stuff the toy with 'easy to get' food at first, then fill it with food that's more difficult to retrieve as the dog gains skill.
  • Pick the right size and type for your dog; hard chewers, fearful dogs, sound sensitive dogs, etc. The toy should be able to be cleaned easily.
  • If you notice any aggression with your dog around food and/or food toys, please contact your shelter/rescue group, foster coordinator, positive reinforcement trainer or veterinary behaviorist for advice.

Special Needs Dog Tips

  • For strong chewers, look for durable rubber toys labeled for harder chewers, like Kong Extreme or GoughNuts.
  • For fearful dogs, or dogs that are sound sensitive, dispensing toys made of softer material that do not make a lot of noise when rolled are the best. It is also helpful to have the first food-dispensing toy for a fearful dog be pretty easy to encourage confidence and success with it. Here are two to check out:
    - Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball
    - Jolly Pets Monster Balls