Dogs and other canids are natural problem solvers: you can see it when wolves hunt, when the dogs in our Nose Work classes are tracking down the scent target, or when our own dogs are rooting for that single piece of kibble that fell behind their food bowls.
It’s what they’re wired to do, what they evolved to do, and it’s what they love to do, but the normal life of a dog living in a house doesn’t make for too many riddles to solve – except for the one we don’t want them to solve like how to open the garbage can lid, how to get into the closet, etc.
That’s where the Atomic Treat Ball comes in and why I’ve been using and recommending it to clients for years.
What initially drew me to the Atomic Treat Ball was Porthos had developed problems related to speed eating and I needed to find a way to allow him to get his full dinner in a measured, controlled way. It worked wonders to keep him from bloat and torsion, but after a while it became clear that although he loved the Atomic Treat Ball because it was filled with food he enjoyed it equally as much for the fun involved in getting the food out.
The trick behind the Atomic Treat Ball is in its design. If you take a look at the picture above you’ll see that it’s essentially shaped like four stacked hollow balls – in essence, a molecule – with a single loading hole in one of the balls. The pyramid shape allows dogs to easily roll the toy around without it going out of control under furniture and the single loading hole gives them a reasonably good chance of getting some food out with each go, but it’s an irregular enough reward schedule to neither bore them nor have them run out of kibble too quickly.
Also, unlike a lot of other puzzle toys the empty space inside the Atomic Treat Ball accommodates quite a bit of kibble or snacks. For Porthos we can actually fit about half of his kibble for each meal into his, which helps to slow down his eating greatly but is also really useful if you need to keep your dog busy for a while or if you want to give them a nice treat that will last if they need to spend extended time in their crates, playpens, taking a break from company or the fix-it person who doesn’t need your dog up their backside, etc.
The Atomic Treat Ball is cheap, easy, and – most importantly – it works. It’s a great tool to keep your dog cognitively challenged, which is as important to them as it is to humans as we grow older, and I believe that it’s an indispensable tool to have in our bag of positive reinforcement tricks.