There are so many enrichment toys out there it can give you a headache trying to figure out how they work and if your dog will enjoy them. This blog post looks at one of Bob’s favourite toys, the Trixie Activity Snack Ball, and explains what it is, how it works, how to fill it and the all important how to clean it.
I’ve taken all of the head scratching out of this toy; you’ll not have to stand there for hours trying to work out how to use it!
I’m a complete sucker for watching Bob figure out how to work a new toy and I have to admit I’m forever scrolling through Amazon to find new food based enrichment games to get him! I just love watching him approach a new toy, interact with it and then have that awesome light bulb moment where he goes “oh cool! THAT’S how I get the food out!”. This baby is a favourite in our household both for us and Bob.
Bob loves his Trixie Activity Snack Ball… read on to see how it works and decide if it might be something your pooch will enjoy playing with.
About the toy
So the Trixie ‘Dog Activity Snack Ball’ comes in a variety of colours and sizes. We’ve got the 11cm version which is the largest size and is a pretty great size for Bob. We bought it off Amazon and they just send you a random colour but you can pick between pink, red or blue from some shops.
The Trixie site says it’s made from ‘natural’ rubber but it doesn’t explain where it is sourced from, so I’m unsure how sustainable the rubber is. This isn’t a big point for many but it is for some I know and to be fair, if I had the choice between this and the same thing but in sustainable rubber I’d be happy paying extra for the earth friendlier version.
On the outside it’s fairly plain, slightly squishy ball but on the inside there’s two ‘shelves’ for the food to fall down under. When your dog pushes the ball around on the floor, the kibble has to first of all fall off the shelf towards the hole and then exit the hole too. As the ball keeps rolling I’m sure you can imagine the kibble bounces around inside and it can take a while for it all to come out.
There’s no guide for the ball to roll in a straight line so it will literally go in any direction and it’s not guaranteed that the hole will point down to the floor. This makes treat delivery slower than some games; perfect for old hat’s but probably not the first choice for a beginner.
Filling it up
We’ve had great success popping a whole meal in this thing; Bob’s on a high quality kibble so he doesn’t get a bucket load and the shape lends itself well to falling through the hole nicely. Getting the kibble in can be a bit painstaking sometimes and I’ve found making a circle with my fingers around the hole helps guide the kibble in the correct direction and causes less mess. You’ll need to give it a shake every now and again to get it all to fall to the bottom.
Bob can take this ball out of my hands and carry it away himself to where he wants to play with it. He’s pro at popping it on the floor and pushing it with his nose to get it to roll and then he follows it around collecting the kibble that falls out. If he gets it stuck in a corner he’ll either try to pull it out with his paw or failing that he’ll pick it up in his jaws again and wander off to a more open space.
If you’re using this for the first time I’d recommend putting some really high quality treats inside and sitting on the floor patiently helping your dog get the idea that nudging it with your nose is the way to get this thing to pay. Once they’ve got the hang of it, switch to kibble and repeat. If it gets stuck in corners try encourage them to problem solve and work out how to get it out themselves but just watch them closesly and if they start to get frustrated, jump in and lend a hand.
For those of you who have this already or if your dog just ‘gets’ it super quickly, you can level up by playing with it on the grass outside. It doesn’t roll as well on the grass and they have to put some extra effort into sniffing for the food when it falls out of the hole.
We’re lucky, Bob’s not one for chewing/biting/destroying his toys (especially those which hold precious food!) so we’ve not had any drama’s but I doubt this will put up much fight against a dog who likes to shred stuff.
The one massive downfall of this toy is that you can’t get inside to give it a good scrub. I’m really hot on cleaning toys after they’ve been used and I find it really frustrating that I can’t open this up to clean all the nooks and crannies. (Can you believe spell check didn’t just pull me up on ‘crannies’?!). The outside is a bit of a sod too when it gets muddy from being outside; the best success I’ve had is by shoving my thumb in the hole to stop it filling up with water and scrubbing the outside with a coconut scourer. Its dishwasher safe so although I can’t clean the insides properly each time, I can run it up to my mums to shove through her dishwasher every now and again.
Overall I’m pleased with this ball; it keeps Bob entertained for a decent amount of time and he seems equally challenged and happy with it. It’s not the hardest game he has but equally it’s not got the highest payout rate either so it lasts a while. I really like that I can just pass it to him when I’ve finished filling it, rather than having to walk to somewhere suitable to put it down (what?! I’m a dog walker; I’ve already walked a BILLION miles already that day!). I also LOVE that he can pick it up when he’s in a tight spot and head somewhere easier.
I find the inability to clean inside a massive frustration and I wish there was a way round that, but overall I’m confident it doesn’t get slobbery and gross inside so I don’t feel it’s growing new antibiotics in there.
I hope I’ve managed to explain the toy and how it works in enough detail for you to get a good vibe for it! I’d love to know if you buy one for your pooch or if you have one already; please comment below and let me know what they think!