Every now and then I like to spice up Beagle teatime by serving their kibble in food-dispensing toys. We have separate toys for each of them; Beanie gets her kibble in a plastic jar whose open neck is blocked by a knotted rope, while Biggles gets his food in a hard ball that makes a squeaky noise as it rolls.
At one point we tried giving them both the jar toy, but while Beanie quickly learned to release the kibble in the manner envisaged by the toy’s creator, Biggles found a faster and much more direct method. He simply chewed through the knotted rope then rolled the jar around until the kibble fell out! So, now he gets the more or less chew-proof ball, and Beanie keeps the one remaining undamaged treat jar.
The idea behind such toys is to keep the dog stimulated and occupied so the owner can get some peace, kind of a set-it-and-forget thing, but in our house it doesn’t work out like that – it’s much more interactive. As you’ll see in the video, Biggles rolls his ball around at quite a pace, and inevitably some of the kibble manages to dodge his mouth and find its way under doors and furniture. We quickly learned that it’s absolutely vital to locate all this stray kibble, because if we don’t either he or Beanie (particularly Beanie!) will try to get it on their own, and anything that stands in their way is likely to take serious damage. For that reason, the second the ball goes empty I have to join Biggles for a team kibble hunt. I press my head down close to the floor and try to peer under the furniture, and more often than not I feel his furry head right beside mine as he does the same. Once we’re confident that all the strays have been rounded up and deposited in his stomach, I can turn my attention to Beanie. Usually there’s still a fair chunk of kibble left in her jar and I get to be her hero as I open it up and give her easy access.