Trouble with Food Puzzles? Here are Six Tips

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Some veterinarians suggest utilizing puzzles to ship a portion of a pet’s each day meals to confined cats and canines. However what should you are unsure if meals puzzles are such a good suggestion on your pet? Or what should you’re unsure your pet will use one otherwise you suppose they appear to be an excessive amount of work? I’m right here to inform you that the payoff on your pet is great and properly price any further work.

In my years of working with pets and their house owners, I’ve come up with quite a few methods to “troubleshoot” meals puzzle issues. Here are some widespread considerations about meals puzzles and the way I tackle them with my shoppers.

1. “My pet doesn’t want a meals puzzle.”

I hear this largely from shoppers who are unfamiliar with meals puzzles and are used to feeding their pets from a bowl solely. How do I attempt to persuade these house owners to provide puzzles a strive? First, I’m not right here to stress anybody. I do know that is one thing that many homeowners usually must “really feel” their approach into making an attempt, so I as an alternative use mild encouragement. I’ll level out that many consumers really feel this fashion initially however finally discover that meals puzzles can present many advantages to their beloved pets if they struggle them. I remind them that canines and cats are hunters by nature — an exercise we deprive our pets of after we preserve them confined. We are able to return this exercise to them with meals puzzles and, in my expertise, most canines and cats take pleasure in them when the puzzles are correctly chosen and launched. If an proprietor nonetheless doesn’t wish to strive one, I attempt to go away the door open for extra dialog and questions later if she or he reconsiders.

2. “My pet gained’t use a meals puzzle.” 

In my expertise, most pets can be taught to make use of and revel in meals puzzles, together with aged pets and pets with disabilities. I hear this objection each from house owners who haven’t tried meals puzzles and from those that have tried and failed with them. For these of you who haven’t tried to make use of one but, there are many various sorts of meals puzzles obtainable — simply ask your veterinarian for some suggestions. Begin by selecting puzzles (movable or stationary) based mostly in your pet’s preferences, traits (akin to quickness to be taught and chewing energy, particularly in canines) and your value preferences (meals puzzles could be cheap and selfmade or costlier ones purchased in shops). 

For shoppers who’ve tried and failed, we will have a look at a number of prospects. Possibly we selected the incorrect puzzle to try to the pet simply didn’t prefer it or discovered it too exhausting to make use of and determine. One other risk is that the puzzle was perhaps supplied on the incorrect time (e.g., not at time for supper when the pet was hungry and motivated to be taught what it was). Or the puzzle may need been supplied within the wrong situation, akin to when there was loads of distracting exercise within the family, just like the presence of different pets, youngsters or individuals. As soon as we determine a potential downside, we will strive once more!

three. “I don’t wish to put together meals puzzles each day.”

This downside is simple to deal with. Some puzzles require no extra work than putting meals in a bowl or you may get a number of totally different sorts of meals puzzles and rotate them regularly to additional stimulate your pet’s curiosity. You possibly can simply put together a number of days’ or perhaps a week’s price of meals puzzles at one time. Simply you’ll want to store them in a cool place in an hermetic container. If a perishable meals merchandise is used, ensure to retailer the puzzle in your fridge or freezer based mostly on what the merchandise is.

four. “I don’t need small items of meals from the puzzles scattered round my house.”

Most pets eat all of the meals they get from the puzzle. In the event that they don’t, you possibly can prohibit utilizing the puzzles to just one or a number of the rooms of your home, such because the kitchen or lavatory, the place meals gadgets could be simply seen and retrieved. For cats, it’s also possible to place puzzles in additional restricted areas akin to bathtubs, baskets, under-the-bed storage containers or within the lids of huge storage totes. The one draw back of limiting or lowering the world the puzzle can be utilized in is that it makes the meals simpler to acquire, thereby lowering your pet’s alternatives for activity. A stationary meals puzzle can be resolution to this downside.

5. “Food puzzles frustrate my pet.”

Pets can certainly turn into pissed off once they can’t have one thing they worth. Bear in mind, although, that a bit frustration is stimulating — the truth is, it is the purpose of meals puzzles. The pet has to work to get its meals and has to think about different methods to get at it within the puzzle. An excessive amount of frustration, nonetheless, can result in helplessness or hopelessness. We do our greatest to keep away from this by planning rigorously coached introductions, which go away the pet challenged but not defeated. Frustration is most certainly to occur in unenriched environments, so I all the time attempt to tackle another enrichment points within the pet’s atmosphere, akin to competition with other pets for sources, boredom and instability earlier than introducing meals puzzles. Your pet additionally would possibly turn into pissed off if she or he “loses” the toy, so ensure there are no inaccessible areas that the meals toy might roll below or be dropped into. It’s also possible to provide your pet a number of meals puzzles to supply selections and assist forestall frustration if one puzzle does roll below the sofa!

6. “I simply don’t know the place to start out.”

Begin merely. Food puzzles sometimes are available two types — rolling and stationary. They are often bought or selfmade and can be utilized with dry or wet food or treats. To start, maybe begin with a easy clear puzzle with loads of holes so your pet can see and scent the meals. Be certain that it’s a minimum of half full so the meals comes out simply. If dry meals is used, you possibly can sprinkle a number of items across the puzzle so your pet will examine and hopefully get the thought. As your pet will get the dangle of it, steadily improve the problem if obligatory through the use of puzzles that are opaque, have fewer holes or are distinctive shapes. There are numerous methods you possibly can proceed to intrigue your pet, and your veterinarian can advise you on further choices.

Food puzzles have been used to complement the lives of zoo animals for many years, however their use with our pets has been newer. This has resulted in an rising consciousness of the optimistic results of environmental enrichment, akin to that supplied by meals puzzles, on confined pets. And whereas many pets do dwell in appropriately enriched environments, many extra seem to not. The correct use of meals puzzles might help enhance the lives of our pets, assist cut back well being and behavior problems and thereby improve the human-animal bond to the good thing about all involved. Let’s go foraging!

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