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Good scent toy/puzzle for older dog?

955 Views 5 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Kathyy
So I'm looking for some recommendations for a good scent based toy/puzzle for an older dog that doesn't have much interest in toys. She's 8, bloodhound mix (or so we're told but definitely some type of hound) and definitely likes to use her sniffer but mainly outdoors, I've noticed. She also likes chasing balls but also seems to only want to do it outside. We just adopted her about two weeks ago so we're still figuring out her likes and dislikes when it comes to toys but I'd really like to get her to play (or at least be more mentally stimulated) inside considering she hates going out in the rain and this is rainy season in Florida. She'll go out to potty but goes right back in.

I'm cruising Amazon right now but there's so many toys to sort through and I tend to read reviews before I buy but there's so many mixed ones. I definitely like the idea of the balls that leak treats/kibble because I know she already chases balls (so she might engage) and it might put that sniffer to work. But it's gotta be big and sturdy enough for an 80lb+ dog and a lot of them seem for smaller breeds? Any recs?

Also for the puzzles, I'm not sure she's ever been exposed to them but I think she might like it considering how much she loves to smell (and eat lol). Are there any that would be recommended for a "beginner" even though she is older? I'd rather start out simple and work up in case she doesn't quite grasp it yet.
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Kong Wobbler is a good kibble dispensing toy.

It can fit a cup and a half or so of dry food which means its actually usable to feed a meal for a larger dog, very strong plastic holds up to being knocked around, its simple to learn to use but not so simple that the food just falls right out.

Its got a weighted base like those kids toys from back when The Weebles or those blow up punching bags for example.

The puzzle toys with sliding compartments like posted above seem better for smaller dogs or very patient types. Big dogs seem more likely to just pick it up and shake or smash the thing. If you get one on a good sale, worth a try but I'd start with some simpler larger toys first.

You can hide treats just using household objects like plastic cups around the living room for the dog to sniff out.
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I've been doing a lot of homemade enrichment recently. A cardboard box filled with kibble wrapped in newspaper or brown paper/leftover wrapping paper. Toilet paper tubes with the ends folded in and filled with kibble. A homemade snuffle mat - basically a plastic or rubber grid with fleece strips tied in you can sprinkle kibble or treats in to sniff out. A muffin tray with kibble or treats in each cup - you can put crumpled paper or tennis balls over each cup to make it a little harder.

Our snuffle mat:

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My puppy cleared the Outward Hound/Nina Ottosson lvl 2 stuff in no time (she still enjoys them but they don't keep her busy for longer than it takes to eat the kibble I put inside). I like this one
better than this one
because you can reload it while in use easier and there are no detachable parts to loose (the doors come off the other one too easy, and the white plastic bones wind up all over the room). The dog has no preference and can barely contain herself no matter which one I pull out).
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I do home made as well. I'd so buy that kong wobbler if only I fed kibble though. All the store bought kibble toys I've had were noisy, slid under furniture, hard to clean and fill, hated them with a passion. Unfortunately the dogs adored them so I suffered.

A dry clean water or milk jug with a dinner's worth of kibble is so much fun to bop around. My first dog didn't quite get it and would chew the opening so nothing could come out but she still loved it even if she had to ask for help sometimes. Second dog would hunker down in his bed, pop off the screw top and empty it out in his bed somehow. Usually boxes belong to dogs. I'll open a box of crackers, one dog gets the box with some cracker crumbs inside and the other gets the bag with a few crumbs with top wound tight and reversed on itself. Riffing on the snuffle mat/IQ towel test I just now folded a towel over and around a crumbled cracker. Happy dogs for 10 minutes. All are supervised as dogs will try to eat things that smell like food and none of these are safe chews.

A real snuffle mat? I've long scattered handfuls of tiny bits of food on the floor or patio but why not in the grass? We call it chicken scratch and my current dogs work long and hard for vegetable bits as well as bready or meaty bits.

How about real nosework? Lots of info online and to start out is easy. Pair a scent with food, then the treat is offered after dog finds the scent and then work to making the scent harder to find. They aren't looking for food but are using noses. Could be a great bonding exercise as you are working together to find that lost bit of vanilla or whatever.
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