Wilbur Reviews the Kong Wobbler

The Kong Wobbler is one of our most used food toys here at Treat. Play. Love. It looks like a giant version of the classic Kong, but it is made from hard plastic instead of rubber, and it has a weighted bottom so that when the dog knocks it over it immediately pops back up. The bulk of the toy is a hollow cavity, and there is one small hole for the biscuits to fall out of. The toy unscrews for easy filling and cleaning.

kong wobbler review

What can you put in the Kong Wobbler?

The Kong Wobbler is ideal for dry biscuits and treats. I use a variety of odd shaped treats in Wilbur’s one to make it harder for the biscuits to fall out. The cavity for food is very large, so if you wanted to feed a whole meal from this toy it would be easy to do. Being hard plastic the toy is easy to clean thoroughly, so you could put semi-moist food into the toy as well – something like “chunkers” might work quite well.

How does the dog get the food out?

Due to the weighted bottom keeping the toy upright, the dog needs to push and paw at the toy repeatedly to get the treats to fall out of the single hole. Some dogs figure out how to step on the toy and keep the hole face down, so for those guys (or for anyone wanting to make the toy harder) you can try putting a tennis ball or a couple of golf balls in the toy with the food, or some scrunched up paper. Either of these options slow down the rate at which the food will drop out. This toy generally takes Wilbur under 5 minutes to empty completely.

Durability

As with all the Kong products i have tried, this is a winner for durability. You can see in the above photo that Wilbur has managed to make some scratches on the plastic with his teeth and nails, but he hasn’t been able to cause any real damage to it. I think this toy would be great for some of the bigger chewers.

In Summary

We love this toy for its capacity, ease of use (for the human), and the level of activity required to get the food out. There is always plenty of pouncing and running around after the spinning toy (talking about the dog now). Often we will use this toy for a large portion of Wilbur’s daily biscuits, while using other toys for smaller quantities of biscuits, treats, or even wet food.

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What’s my goal?

I want to pose a question that i don’t think we ask ourselves enough when we interact with our pets, especially when we are trying to get them to do (or stop) something. It’s too easy to behave reactively to a situation, without regard to whether we are behaving in a way that will make things better next time. When we are stuck in the moment, we may not consider the consequences. We need to ask ourselves “What am I trying to achieve?”, and then act in ways that will help us reach those goals with our pets.

It is common to see people acting in extremely counter-productive ways with their pets. Perhaps someone wants their dog to not lunge at other dogs on lead, so when they see another dog they start shortening the lead and restricting the dogs movement and choice. Or it could be that they approach their bird and chase it away when it lands somewhere it shouldn’t. What the owner wants, and what they will get, are completely opposite in these cases. Our behaviour influences our pet’s behaviour, so we need to get smarter.

If we are trying to help our pet feel less wary, afraid, or stressed by a stimulus (like other dogs) then we have to make sure our handling isn’t adding to their stress. Restrictive or sudden movements with the lead and collar do little to help our dog make good associations, and plenty to increase their stress in that situation. Instead we could try working at a greater distance, and rewarding calm behaviour with something our pet likes (treats, toys, play, petting). How do we know if it’s working? Things will start getting better! How do we know it’s not? Things will get worse. We need to keep reviewing what our goal is, and making adjustments so we are steadily working towards success.

If our pet is not afraid, but rather engaging in annoying behaviours in an attempt to stay entertained, then we need to get proactive and set them up to interact with their environment in more appropriate ways. That parrot who keeps flying to the bench to throw your worldly possessions to the floor? Rather than adding to his fun with a game of chase, start setting his play areas up with new toys, foraging games, and browse (leaves/branches/flowers) to investigate. Provide social contact and play when you notice him hanging out on approved parrot-stations. Reward the behaviour you want to see more of, not the behaviour you’re trying to extinguish. And while you’re at it, clear the bench of all those enticing parrot toys (e.g. coffee mugs, car keys, can you tell i’m speaking from experience….).

parrots on the bench

As owners and trainers, we should always be thinking about how we can help our pets succeed in our homes. If something goes wrong and you find your pet engaging in unwanted behaviours, stop and think about how you can change the behaviour for good rather than how you can interrupt it just for the moment. Long term plans and smart training lead to long term results, which is what we all want! Train smart, not tough.

The Truth is in the Behaviour

People commonly complain that their pet either “knows” what they’re being asked to do, or that they “know” when they’re misbehaving. This accompanies feelings of frustration and betrayal, because if the pet knows what is being asked then they must be willfully ignoring their owner. Perhaps they are being described as stubborn, strong-willed, cheeky, or perhaps he’s “giving you the paw”.

I want to challenge this idea that our pets “know” but are choosing to act otherwise. I want to suggest to all pet owners that your pet is doing exactly what you have, or haven’t, trained it to do. The truth is in the behaviour!

If we keep in mind that pets repeat behaviours that lead to good things happening, we can generally find out why our pet is behaving a certain way. Is Fido ignoring you when you call? Perhaps he’s having fun where he is, sniffing something great, playing with mates at the park, or he’s otherwise engaged in something he considers fun. Pair that with the common history we create where we punish our dogs when they do come back to us, albeit slowly (scolding them for running away or ignoring us for so long), and you have a pretty darn good reason for your dog staying away. Perhaps he won’t sit when you ask him to hop on the scales at the vet? Have you ever taught him how to step onto a strange surface and sit in a room that smells of dogs, cats, and stressed animals? Doing a behaviour at home is not the same as performing out in the real world, we have to help our pets learn to respond in all places.

guilty dog training

And of course stress and fear interfere with our pets ability to respond to our cues. Even mild stressors can strongly influence our pets behaviours, causing them to either stop responding or start reacting – both of which are frustrating and sometimes difficult to manage when we’re caught unprepared. Take a look at the environment you are asking your pet to perform in: have you trained here before? Are you providing enough motivation? Is something worrying your pet?

We need to stop assuming that our pets are out to ruin our day, they’re not. All animals behave to gain access to the things they like. As owners we need to make sure we are a source of all things good to our pets, and that we help our pets to learn and understand the language we use to communicate with them. Stop getting frustrated with your “bad” pet and start getting proactive with your smart training.

Wilbur Reviews the Aikiou Bowl

One of our lovely friends gave us their old dogs Aikiou Interactive Dog Bowl the other day. We are very excited about this, because it was on our “wish list” but it’s a little pricey so we hadn’t got to it yet. The Aikiou Bowl is a paw-shaped, plastic bowl which has 6 compartments in the centre and 8 compartments in total on the four toes. Plastic covers need to be moved back and forth or around to access all the compartments and get the food. This can be done either by pushing the covers with a nose, or pulling them with a paw. The Aikiou Bowl has rubber pads on the bottom of the bowl to stop it sliding around too much, as it is quite light weight.

Wilbur using the Aikiou Bowl

What can you put in the Aikiou Bowl?

This toy is completely plastic, and can be taken apart to clean thoroughly in the dishwasher, which means you can put anything you want in the bowl! As far as capacity goes, it is supposed to hold several cups of dry food so it isn’t too limiting for large dogs. Wilbur enjoyed working to get his measley half cup of biscuits and a couple of teaspoons of wet food.

Difficulty

The parts on the Aikiou Bowl move quite easily, which means that the toy is not difficult to use. Even a dog that isn’t experienced at using their nose and paws to access food should be able to accidentally make something happen with a bit of sniffing. The toy is lightweight, so i would suggest it be used under supervision to ensure it isn’t carried off and chewed up! Wilbur did attempt the push and flip methods of emptying the toy.

In Summary

This toy is pretty cool, and makes a good option as a slow-feed bowl. I like that it can be taken apart and cleaned, so i’m not limited in what surprises i can hide in the different compartments. I think i would prefer the plastic covers be a little more snug, so that it is just a tad harder for Wilbur, but i don’t hear him complaining so that’s ok. Another good toy to add to our collection!