Enrichment activities are a great way to keep your dog occupied during the day, however, if you’re not careful, you can spend more time preparing feeding toys than your dog spends chewing or licking them. can also take up a big chunk of yours.
Making frozen food toys is a messy business, especially if you’re using raw food or other wet ingredients like natural yoghurt. Minimising clean-up is the best way to save time in your day while still being able to provide tons of enrichment for your dog.
Here are some of the most helpful products I’ve used that make enrichment prep — and the clean-up afterwards—much more manageable.
PawsInEarnest Stopple and Stand for Toppl
We love our Westpaw Toppls but the little hole in the front of them can be a nightmare if you’re trying to fill a toy with anything sloppy, let alone put it in the freezer for a few hours to make it more challenging.
Enter the Pawsinearnest Stopple. This tiny plug is custom-designed for the Toppl and is 3D-printed in business owner Melissa’s house in the UK. Not only does it make the Toppl completely leak-proof, but it also comes with the option of a built-in magnet so you can easily store it on your fridge.
And they haven’t stopple-d there! (Sorry, I had to.) They also developed a 3D printed stand to balance your Toppl on while you fill it, so your dog is the one getting challenged, not you.
In a similar vein to the Stoppl, we have the Sodapup Unstoppables. They are a dual-purpose stopper and stand to help you fill your whole range of Sodapup toys.
The Unstoppables come in a pack of four and are brightly coloured, so you don’t forget to remove them from the toy before giving it to your dog.
My favourite thing about the Unstoppables range is that they make freezing the toys much easier. They no longer roll around and spill their sloppy contents all over our freezer drawers. Bing’s favourite, the Thanksgiving Turkey, is back in rotation now, thanks to the Unstoppables.
A special prep board
As a veterinary professional, I can’t overstress the importance of hygiene and preparing your dog’s food—especially if you feed raw ingredients. While our two don’t get that much raw food, we still use a designated chopping board or raw board when prepping our enrichment toys.
Raw boards are meant to be easy-to-clean chopping boards that you only use for your dog’s food. It protects countertops and human chopping boards from the harmful bacteria in raw meat, eggs, and other ingredients. We also use it to contain the mess that inevitably happens when prepping food toys.
We picked up a simple, wooden one from Ikea, but some beautiful custom ones are available on Etsy.
Coffee machine cleaning brushes
Harry originally got these cleaning brushes to use on our coffee grinder, but I pillaged them to clean our enrichment toys as soon as I saw them (don’t worry, he bought new ones for the grinder).
We don’t have a dishwasher, so these have been such a time-saver for us. Sticky ingredients like peanut-butter easily get trapped in hard-to-reach places and take ages to get off with a traditional sponge.
The stiff bristles and angled heads on these brushes make them ideal for getting into the small corners of some feeding toys, such as the Sodapup Mandala and can get to the bottom of an XL Kong with no issues.
Keeping your feeding toys clean is the only way to prevent tummy upset from mould and ensure your toys last for ages.
These four products make it fast and simple to prepare enrichment toys for the boys, and even faster and simpler to clean up after. It means making them is fun and easy, not a drag, so we do it all the time. Adding enrichment to your dog’s life shouldn’t be a challenge—it should fit with your lifestyle and routine.