Products: Tug-A-Jug, Kibble Nibble and Magic Mushroom by Busy Buddy (parent company PetSafe)
Cost: $7 – $13 at online retailers, $13 – $20 in most pet stores
Available: Chewy.com* and other online retailers; most pet stores
Length of ownership: 1+ year
I decided to lump all these food dispensing toys into one post because although they have different pros and cons, a lot of their attributes are very similar as they are made by the same company! On a whole, these toys are primarily hard plastic with rubber details (except for the Magic Mushroom, which is just hard plastic). All of these toys come apart so they make it easy load an entire meal – my dogs eat about a cup of kibble twice a day so I appreciate not having to load the toys kibble-by-kibble (I’m looking at you, Tricky Treat Ball).
My favorite of these three toys is the Kibble Nibble by quite a stretch. It is super basic – just an egg shape that unscrews around the middle with holes on either end. There are rubber fingers around the treat-dispensing holes that you trim so your dog’s kibble size fits through fairly easily. Your dog just has to roll the egg around until her meal falls out, which takes long enough that I can make coffee, eat breakfast, etc. while my dogs are getting their meal. When your dog gets good at the Kibble Nibble, there is plenty of room inside the egg to add a ball (or two!) to make it more difficult to get the food out. It is fantastically easy to clean because it’s just rubber and plastic. I liked this one so much that I bought one for both pups!
The Tug-A-Jug was a contender for quite a while. The dog has to work with the rope without pulling the rope too far, which blocks the treat-dispensing hole – it is super tricky! My lab developed a method of tipping the Tug-A-Jug and wiggling the rope to get the kibble out, while my cattle dog would pick up the Tug-A-Jug by the rope and throw it around until kibble came out. (Which was fine, except that she hit me in the head with it once because I was sitting on the floor – OUCH!) Unfortunately, because the rope is just a regular rope – a bundle of fabric strings – I never quite figured out how to properly clean this one. The rope was actually the demise of this toy for me because after leaving the Tug-A-Jug in our closet over the weekend, I discovered the rope had molded the following Monday. I couldn’t get it satisfactorily clean (even after running it through the dishwasher), so the Tug-A-Jug sadly went into the trash.
The Magic Mushroom – who in the world named this? – was the least satisfactory of these three Busy Buddy products. The pup is supposed to roll this toy end-for-end, making the treats fall out of the body of the toy and dispense under the mushroom cap. However, my pups weren’t able to roll this effectively on hardwood. The toy worked okay on carpet but I prefer to feed my dogs in rooms that just happen to have non-carpeted floors. But I didn’t want to change my entire feeding routine (trust me, it would have been an ordeal) just to use this toy the way it was meant! Because the toy didn’t work well in the rooms where I feed my dogs, my cattle dog started picking up the toy and tossing it, which worked okay for about a week until the cap of the mushroom broke off. I didn’t even try to fix it because I’m sure it would have broken again in another week.
These aren’t the only food dispensing toys on the market so look for more reviews on this type of product down the road. Have you tried any of these toys with your pups? What were your experiences with them like? Let me know in the comments below!
*I regularly use Chewy.com to order dog and cat food as well as other pet supplies. I’m not sponsored by this company in any way. I LOVE them because they are affordable, have great customer service and fast shipping.