I’ve been a bit lax with these posts – sorry. Time seems to have done that weird thing where it zooms past really fast at the time but when you think back on events they seem to have been decades ago, or just yesterday.
I’ve also failed on the 100 days of dog training count too – technology foiled me as my phone (how I record most of my training) decided it didn’t want to speak to my laptop. That’s now fixed (I think) and since my 2nd practical weekend on the Karen Pryor Academy Professional Course just happened I need to get going on the training needed for our final assessment in November.
November seems ages away, but since we are nearly in August and it only feels like yesterday that it was the start of the year, I really don’t have any time to waste. So look out for the videos as I have to document my training and I find video easier to review than trying to keep count in the actual session.
Anyway I thought instead of some nugget on training I’d give you the low down on one of my favourite toys to use with my dogs. The Toppl from West Paw.
My guys (well the 2 Fs) are fed out of food toys most days for their evening meal. Breckin was, but the food he is on these days doesn’t lend itself to being stuffed anymore.
Fraggle is the master at emptying a Kong in super quick time. Frozen or not. An XL black Kong that’s been frozen solid for several days takes her about 20mins. She’s got a really good method for squeezing the food out by chomping on the narrow end like a tube of toothpaste.
Flint however lays down and licks and licks and licks. Then once he can’t reach with his tongue anymore he drops it on the floor to dislodge bits or move the food so he can carry on licking. It takes him a good hour to empty an XL Kong. He can get frustrated though sometimes and give up. I’ve discovered that if I give him a Kong for 3 days on the trot, by the 3rd day he will take it, lick it for a bit then just leave it. But if on the 3rd day I give him something easier, he’ll be up for the challenge of the Kong the next day.
So Flint gets frozen Toppls every now an then. A large size Toppl fits about the same amount of food as the XL Kong – with a bit of a muffin top.
Because the Toppl has a large opening and is much shallower than the Kong he doesn’t get frustrated – he can reach the food right at the bottom ok. However the Toppl has these flexible prongs inside that mean it’s not just an exercise in emptying bowl. It is much easier though, Flint will empty a frozen one in about 20mins, he’s got quicker recently and often beats Fraggle when he has a Toppl.
Once empty, just like the Kong the Toppl can go in the dishwasher to be cleaned (I especially like that). I have several that I’ve been using regularly for about 2 years (possibly more) and they look like new.
It would be possible for a dog to chew the Toppl as it would be fairly easy for them to get purchase around the lip of it. My guys aren’t really interested in chomping on them once empty. They’ll carry them around and play but they don’t just settle in to chew on them, but be aware of the possibility if your dog is likely to tear chunks out of it when empty.
There are 2 sizes of Toppl – large and small (the small takes about the same amount of food as a medium Kong in my experience). The small will fit inside the rim of the large upping the ante in difficulty. This also gives you the opportunity to use dry kibble or similar inside it. Both size Toppl have a hole in the side where the treats can fall out when you use them together.
I’ve used them in this configuration a few times with just my dogs kibble. It is possible for them to pop off the small Toppl and get the kibble out more easily – but because of its shape and inner prongs the kibble doesn’t generally just fall out without at least *some* work. If I make sure that I’ve squished the small inside properly it’s rarely a problem. Because of the material it’s also not noisy when they work to roll it around and get the food out, and I don’t worry about my skirting boards being damaged. Or get annoyed when driving in the van listening to the thudding against the sides while they throw it around trying to empty it.
I have a few in stock to sell in classes and workshops but you can also get them online from Ruff Shop. All in all we like the Toppl a lot in our house. I think it makes a pretty versatile food toy that would be suitable for most dogs (flatter faced dogs may struggle with wet food inside it). They aren’t cheap I admit, but they appear to last forever as far as I can tell at this point. So for the amount of use we get out of them they are well worth it.