The Pet Dream House Wants Your Dog to Play With Their Food
No more wiping up saliva-covered kibble.
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My dog, Moose, has zero table manners. Recently, his etiquette has gotten so much worse — now his favorite thing to do is vacuum up anywhere from 20 to 400 pieces of kibble and then unhinge his jaw and release them all onto my kitchen floor. From there, he will approach every single piece of kibble with an investigative delight before eating each one individually — a meticulous process that can take upwards of 15 minutes. His commitment to the bit was honestly impressive, but I was getting sick of constantly wiping up the subsequent film of super slimy dog saliva off my floorboards.
I finally decided there must be a better way. I did some research and found that dogs actually benefit from the mental stimulation that comes from playing with their food. Exercising that mental curiosity can even help mitigate other more destructive behaviors that dogs will engage in when bored (i.e. destroying your couch while you’re at the grocery store). It can also reduce stress, help with digestion, and supplement the benefits of exercise.
At this point, I wanted Moose to play with his food — just not all over my hardwood floors. So, I went through some trial and error with different kinds of puzzle feeders. First, I tried a snuffle mat: a fabric mat with thick felt grass that you toss food into for your dog to find. It was great, at first. Unfortunately, after a week of meals, and Moose’s propensity to gnaw on the grass like an after-dinner toothpick, it absolutely reeked.
Next, we tried a feeder ball, where food is placed inside a ball with a small opening that will dispense the food as your dog bats it around. It did, however, quickly become clear that Moose would not be forced to “sing for his supper” as the ball demanded. He batted it around once, got a singular piece of kibble, and promptly decided he would rather go on a hunger strike than be insulted by such a tease of a toy. Finally, we found our holy grail — a washable, fun, and shockingly aesthetically pleasing puzzle feeder: The Pet Dream House Interactive Feeder.
Designed to ensure healthy, slow, and fun feeding for your pup, this interactive feeder is a step above the rest. First, its base model is available in two levels: easy and advanced. I started Moose out on the easy level, which features a beautiful spinning tulip that can be pushed to reveal food underneath. Immediately, Moose was obsessed. Even being the famously picky eater he is, I could tell he wanted me to refill his bowl so he could keep playing.
His sister, the slightly more intuitive Harper, loves the advanced version and will occasionally nudge it around between mealtimes for another chance to play. Luckily, the Pet Dream House Feeder also features anti-slip grips on the bottom to ensure your dog’s playing doesn’t result in major spillage. But with Harper, who is a more aggressive eater, I’ve found that a few pieces of kibble do manage to fall onto the floor when she is in a more playful mood.
Still, the best part of choosing a Pet Dream House feeder is the ability to purchase and change out different puzzles that fit the base of the feeder. As with its base models, Pet Dream House rates its other puzzles based on different levels of difficulties, so you can make the right purchase for your pup’s needs.
The only downside to this feeder is the price. While most other plastic feeders come in under $15, the Pet Dream House feeder is priced at a slightly more elevated $24. The detachable accessories do make this feeder more fun and much easier to clean, allowing your dog to play with their food — without your having to stand by with the Swiffer.
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Rebecca Caplan is a writer based in Brooklyn whose work has been featured in The New Yorker, Reductress, and Vulture. She lives in Brooklyn with her perfect, toothless dog Moose.