An affordable alternative to the Kong! This easy to DIY food dispenser is great for improving those sniffing skills, mental stimulation, and providing slow feeding.
When Phoebe first came to me she was struggling with a number of issues, but the most lingering of them was her severe separation anxiety. I checked the internet, read books on the subject and consulted our trusty dog Behaviourist to find solutions to her extreme distress at being left home alone.
On the advice of the Behaviourist I decided that first and foremost I needed to find a way to distract Phoebe in a way that would keep her mind and body occupied. The discovery of the Kong was heaven-sent for me, but I needed more to keep her busy. My budget didn’t allow for the purchase of multiple Kong‘s, so a new plan had to be made.
The Behaviourist had a great suggestion – using plastic bottles as an alternative to the Kong. And what a great idea it is!
All I had to do was portion out Phoebe’s dry food for the day and place them in the bottles, add a taste of something that smells and tastes delicious then scatter them across the yard before leaving.
Here are the simple steps to creating puzzle bottle dog food dispensers:
Step 1: Find a suitable plastic bottle. Any bottle will do. Here I used some of kid’s sparkling juice bottles as they were small, but I usually use empty water bottles that have been washed and dried.
Step 2: Take empty bottles, wash and wait for inside to be completely dry. We keep a bag in the kitchen where all the emptied and cleaned bottles are kept to be used whenever we need them.
Step 3: Fill bottle with small-medium size kibble. Quantity will depend on how many bottles you are using and how you have measured out the full food intake for the day. You don’t need a lot in the bottle – just enough to rattle around and fall out when manipulated.
Step 4: Take a teaspoon of anything that your dog thinks is tasty and will be able to sniff out in the yard and slather it over the top part of the bottle (don’t close the bottle top as kibble still needs to fall out easily). I usually swap between cream cheese, anchovy spread and peanut butter.
Step 5: Scatter bottle(s) in the yard and watch as the dogs enjoy sniffing them out, licking off the delicious paste, and then playing with it until every single bit of kibble spills out and is eaten!
And there you have it! A quick, easy way to give your dog a treat while exercising body, mind and soul! 🙂
Phoebe’s Effectiveness Summary:
Issue Addressed: Separation Anxiety, Mental Stimulation, Play
Tool(s) Used: Any empty drinking bottles; various food ingredients
Ease of Implementation: Low. You can premake it by filling a number of bottles with measured out amounts of kibble to just grab and go
Phoebe’s Effectiveness Rating: 5/5 for Mental Stimulation and Play. Phoebe enjoys rolling the bottle around the garden until there is nothing left inside, then goes of exploring for the next filled bottle!
Note: Surprisingly neither Phoebe nor Cooper has ever tried to just rip the bottle in half with their teeth, opting to naturally rather enjoy the puzzle side of it by throwing it around and rolling it with their paws and mouth. I suspect most dogs like GSD’s or Pitties would probably be impatient and just rip the thing in half, possibly cutting themselves on the exposed plastic bits. So I recommend you supervise your dog the first few times just to make sure they have the hang of it, if not, rather stick to the hardier and stronger Kong.
Have you got any other DIY ideas for play and stimulation? I’m always looking to try something new so feel free to leave suggestions!