DIY Puzzle Food Dispenser – Filling Bottles

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.

phoebe bottles

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.

kibble bottles

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.

kibble bottle flavour

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!

kibble bottles

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

Cost: Low.

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!


6 thoughts on “DIY Puzzle Food Dispenser – Filling Bottles

      • I had one of those balls for Phoebe long ago, but that one wasn’t great quality – she is very delicate when playing with toys, and it broke within a day. But maybe I should get one for her again? She loves the variety!
        Yup, the tops go off so that the treats can spill out if turned and manipulated.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Maggie likes things that squeak, though she only needs to make it squeak herself once, then she’s content. Her toys were lovingly licked and cuddled (and eventually stank), but never chewed or damaged. In the Great Sort Out everything went and we still don’t know what happened to her two favourites that we’d put to one side. Hubby bought her a soft fabric bone, with squeaker for Christmas. The new Baby is taken everywhere.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi “Guys”! My name is Ray, and I’m a rescued Shepherd/Rotti X (a very handsome one!). My Mum and Dad contemplated the plastic bottle idea because I get through Kongs fast however, they decided not to because I am a very aggressive and powerful “chomper”! Their concern was that I would split open the bottle which would then leave sharp plastic edges for me to mess with.
    Thanks for following my blog……… well it’s my Dad’s blog really, but I ensure that he has lots of material to write about!


    • Hi Ray! You are very handsome indeed!
      I suspected that might be the case with some of the more powerful dogs. I had a beautiful German Shepherd a few years back and he would also destroy everything in just one or two powerful bites!
      Looking forward to reading more about you on your blog, and thanks for the follow back!

      Liked by 1 person

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