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(Podcast) #PetParentsAsk Ep. 5: Should I Leave My Dog Alone With a Food Toy?

 I'm debating whether to get my dog a snuffle mat or a food puzzle for when I go out. My dog figured out a puzzle toy way too quickly, and I'm concerned about leaving her with the smaller pieces. Though she only mouths things, doesn't chew them.

 This is a very good question. When it comes to snuffle mats and puzzle toys, I love them both. As far as behavior and when I'll use them. Putting aside what the dog prefers usually, dogs that enjoy a snuffle mat will enjoy a food puzzle and vice versa. But as far as if I really wanted to get specific as to how I would use them and when, if I have a dog that is feeling very overwhelmed, very, aroused, very excited, doesn't really know how to settle.

I likely won't go towards a puzzle just because a puzzle usually a lot of them will have or require that your dog uses their body a little bit and not so much, their mouth or potentially where you have to carry, move a few things, but also, their paws, their claws to open drawers. A lot of puzzles will have those.

So if a dog is feeling overwhelmed or over-tired, potentially. I'd rather switch to a snuffle mat because that's a little bit more about snuffling, just using their nose, just figuring out where the food is and just having to move any fabric to get to it. I would use a snuffle mat in that instance, more so than a puzzle toy.

But as far as general enrichment, I would use both, and I would maybe if a puppy's just waking up or you just. Come back from your walk and your puppies are feeling okay. I would go towards a puzzle toy just to get them engaged with that a little bit more, keep maintaining that excitement that potentially came from the walk.

I would go towards a puzzle toy and then to help them wind down, I would do a snuffle mat. As far as which one to leave a dog with, I wouldn't leave a dog with. Either because one, I don't want them to, I know she mentions here, or the person mentions here that their dog is not chewing them, just mouthing.

I would still not leave, I would still not feel comfortable leaving my dog with a toy that's not meant to be chewed. Like a Kong would be, a chewable toy or rubber toy or something that's really safe. That's what I would leave them with. and again, I would really only leave them when I know that they've gone what they need. Meaning the puzzles, the snuffer mats, the running fetch, playing ball, doing all those things. It's what I would try before leaving a puppy alone, period. And even then, I would only leave them with a Kong or a toy that is designed for chewing that I know is going to be safe for my dog to be left alone with.

as far as difficulties, in terms of. Puzzles versus snuffle mats, usually snuffle mats are a little bit easier. Once a puzzle feels too easy for your dog, you do not have to go out and buy a new one unless it's really completely different potentially one puzzle has the option where your dog needs to use, their paw to open draw drawers, and another one asks your dog to, pull on the little boxes to reveal the treats.

Then, Sure. But even then, what I would do first is incorporate the snuffle mats and the puzzle toys into some DIY activities. And that's where I would use a cardboard box. That's where I would grab a big empty box and put some towels in, put the snuffle mat in or the food puzzle in, and make it so my dog has.

The scavenger has to snuffle just to get to the mat or the toy, the puzzle toy. And so that's what I would do and I would do those while I'm there so I can supervise, and make sure that everything is safe and make sure that after they're finding it too difficult, I can guide them along the way so that they're not getting frustrated.

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