Raven, The Director of Feline Toy Testing, at PetProject has long loved the MouseRat by MetPet (scroll to bottom). MetPet has three Classes of FlyToys—there are some really neat looking ones. New MouseRats make Raven growl. She will “request” vigorously and endlessly that we play with her, if we happen to even be in the room where the toy lives on top of a shelf. She absolutely does not like Sage, her co-worker, to play with the MouseRat. It is hers and we’d best remember it!
The MouseRat and the other FlyToys from MetPet are made the same way flies are tied for fly fishing, minus the hook of course. The MouseRat is made from deer hair, which Raven loves. They are very durable and last a long time. You need to put them away when not in use. They come on nylon line and an acrylic rod. We actually prefer a longer piece of lighter weight line, so I retrofit mine with fishing line.
When we first adopted Saffron, she wasn’t good about eating her food. She just wasn’t very interested. I thought that since she’d been a stray on the Yakima Indian Reservation, she’d be a chow-hound, but no. So, it was hard to get her on a schedule for needing to go outside to go potty. And because she wasn’t in good shape, she’d get tired very quickly at the dog park and then other dogs would try to pick on her.
I needed to get her eating regularly, so I started acquiring different food dispensing toys in an effort to get her to eat. The Buster Cube is one of these. She loved it! You fill the cube with kibble or small treats and as the dog plays with the cube, food travels through the channels inside and small amounts of food will randomly fall out. You can adjust the center tube to control how much food falls out. It comes in two sizes for small and larger dogs. It is hard-sided and therefore noisier than some other treat dispensing toys, but it’s durable.
Other people have the problem of their dogs eating so fast they risk bloat. And all dogs can benefit from the mental exercise of “working” for their food. The Twist ‘n Treat and the Tricky Treat Ball are other treat/food dispensing toys. The Brake-Fast Bowl is a bowl designed to stop dogs from bolting food.
Here’s video of Roland, the Husky, using his Buster Cube:
Gary Burghoff (M*A*S*H*’s “Radar” O’Reilly) did a segment about the Marymoor Off-Leash Dog Park on his TV show Pets Part Of The Family. (direct link to video)
Marymoor Off-Leash Dog Park in Redmond, Washington is our favorite dog park. It’s a 40-acre, fenced, off-leash dog park along the Sammamish River. There is water access for hot, summer days. Big, grassy fields for running all out. Lots of paths, dogs, smells, and people for your dog to enjoy. We’re fortunate not to have a tick problem, chiggers, or poisonous snakes either, so all we have to look out for in the tall grass is the occasional dog poop. It’s a wonderful place for people too. The views are lovely, we see Bald Eagles and Blue Herons, walking the trails is good exercise, and it’s always entertaining watching dogs get to be dogs.
We drive about 25 minutes to take Saffron to this park. It was here that her confidence improved so much with other dogs when she realized she can outrun or out-maneuver most dogs. She loves the grass and is interested in the water, but prefers if we get in with her. That has to wait until it warms up more.
The creation of this wonderful off-leash park was made possible by Save Our Dog Area or S.O.D.A. They continue to be stewards of the park today—maintaining and making improvements to it. The environment is also protected—for a section of time every year, some of the water access is fenced off to protect salmon and flooded areas in the winter are fenced off to avoid degradation. We encourage users of the Marymoor Dog Park to support S.O.D.A. by joining them.
Twist ‘n Treat is another food or treat dispensing toy. Not only is it a great way to make your dog work for a treat, it can be a good way to slow down a dog that bolts its food. It doesn’t hold as much as the Tricky Treat Ball or the Brake Fast Bowl, both of which I’ve written about before. With the Twist ‘n Treat, you screw the two pieces together making it easy to fill and easy to clean. You make it harder or easier to knock treats or kibble out depending on how tightly you screw it. If your dog doesn’t know what to do with it at first, make it easy for the food to fall out. Your pup will catch on quickly. They come in three different sizes. When we fill it, we hide it somewhere in the house for Saffron to find giving her a little more work to do. She loves it.
You fill the Tricky Treat Ball with your dog’s kibble—I can get about 1.5 cups in the orange one—and then let them at it. There is one hole in the side with a tube that leads to the center of the ball, so as they roll it around and toss it, small amounts of kibble fall out for them to eat. If your dog is unsure what to do with it at first, try putting some really good treats in it. They’ll catch on quickly.
We’ve had the opposite problem of bolting food with our dog Saffron. We actually had a hard time getting her to finish her dinner, which made it difficult to predict when she’d need to be let out to go potty. The very urgent 3:00am bathroom breaks weren’t fun. When I started using the Tricky Treat Ball, she would work at it until her kibble was all gone because it was fun.