Q: How do I teach my dog to play with treat-release toys?
A: Follow these simple steps and your dog will become a master at treat-release toys in no time!
- Use very small, dry treats to fill the Leo toy. They should be small enough so that they come out easily.
- Place Leo on the floor in front of your dog, and gently roll it around so that treats fall out of the openings.
- Encourage your dog to eat the treats.
- Most dogs will be intrigued (treats are a powerful motivator for curiosity!) and will inspect the toy more closely.
- As you roll the Leo around, your dog will start to push it with his/her nose and/or paw. Encourage your dog with verbal praise when he/she starts to do this.
- Soon your dog will be working on his/her own to figure out how to empty the Leo toy!
Remember that every dog has a unique learning pace, so be patient-it may take several sessions especially if your dog is shy or older.
Q: What types of treats should I put in the Leo toy and how should my dog's "Frustration Threshold" affect my choice of treats?
A: When you are first starting to use the Leo toy with your dog, we suggest using small dry treats only. The Leo is a very challenging treat-release toy compared to many others on the market, and small dry treats are easier for the dog to remove. After a few times using easy treats you will be able to better judge what we call the "frustration threshold" of your dog. Some dogs with a lower frustration threshold are so excited and impatient to get the treats out of a challenging treat-release toy that they try to rip through them to get at the food quickly. Dogs with a higher frustration threshold have more tolerance for challenging problem solving. Often when you start the dog out with easier to remove treats, the dog gets a chance to learn that with just a little patience they can remove the treats without destroying the toy. As the dog learns to build its "frustration threshold" you can vary the types of treats to make it more difficult (as you judge appropriate for your dog's individual frustration threshold). Moist treats are far more challenging than dry treats, and larger treats (moist or dry) are more challenging than smaller treats.
Q: My dog already knows how to use treat-release toys. How do I make the game more challenging for him/her?
A: This is one of the special features of the Leo toy: customizability! If your dog is already experienced, then you should use larger treats inside the Leo toy. The cross-cut hole design allows you to stuff large treats inside easily. The larger the treats, the harder the dog has to work to get the treats out. You can select your treat fillings based on your dog's individual skill level. Some ideas for fillings are:
- Dehydrated chicken strips, beef liver, lamb lung or turkey bites
- Large dog-cookies
- Chunks of Natural Balance Roll (and other semi-moist "log" roll brands)
- Strips of cheese.
- Moist fillings such as peanut butter, liverwurst, and cream cheese can also be used with Leo and are an excellent way to keep your dog busy for a good long time.
Q: How do I make Leo extra-challenging for my dog? He is so smart he figures out puzzles very quickly, and I want to keep him busy for a really long time!
A: If your dog is a little too much of a canine genius, you can fill the Leo in a variety of ways to keep him really busy. Use combinations of fillings - moist and dry. Try stuffing a large dog biscuit inside Leo. Then using a knife, pack peanut butter down the trumpet neck and in through the cross-cut holes. Combining large dry treats with moist ones make the job of getting the treats out much more difficult! For a large dog who really enjoys a challenge, you can even push a raw frozen marrowbone down through the cross-cut holes on the side of Leo!
Q: What is the benefit of connecting multiple Leo toys together?
A: For intermediate and advanced dogs, connect multiple Leo toys together. Stuffing each toy, then connecting them together offers an even greater challenge. When the Leos are connected small treats can move from toy to toy. Connecting toys together also plugs up cross-cut openings making the game trickier for your dog! In addition to figuring out how to get the treats out of each toy, the dog also has the fun of separating the Leos (which taps into their instinctual "ripping and pulling" desires). Since you can connect Leo toys in so many ways, you can design the perfect puzzle to keep your canine genius mentally stimulated and happy!
Q: Can I put the Leo toy in the freezer?
A: Yes, having frozen treats inside the toy is another excellent way to increase the difficulty level, and feels nice for a dog on a hot summer day!
Q: My dog is really destructive with his/her toys. Is the Leo a good toy for him/her?
A: Every dog has a different chew and play style. The Leo toy is designed for problem solving treat-release games rather than a chew toy (chew toys are designed for jaw exercise only). The Leo material is very durable, especially the EXTRA version. We have many Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Labrador, English Bulldog, Boston Terrier and Corgi fans who play rough with their Leo toys for a long time without any problems, but you know your dog best. If your dog is a known "toy destroyer" with other very durable rubber toys, then the Leo may not be the ideal toy for him/her.
Q: Is there a way to teach my dog to be more gentle with his/her toys so they last longer?
A: If your dog is destructive with their toys, try following these steps:
- If your dog does not already know "gentle" and/or "easy" (usually taught for taking treats), this is an excellent opportunity to teach him/her these cues/commands.
- Verbally reward/praise the appropriate mouthing behavior (usually when the dog first starts playing with the toy). Say "Good Gentle" or "Good Easy" in a calm, pleasant encouraging tone of voice.
- If the dog starts to show destructive mouthing behavior, say "Uh-Uh Wrong" in a calm, gentle voice and remove the Leo toy.
- Give the toy back to your dog later, and keep an eye on his/her behavior. While he/she exhibits appropriate mouth behavior (non-destructive), repeat the positive cue/command, "Good Gentle" etc. When/if the destructive behavior resumes, repeat the "Uh-Uh Wrong" cue/command and remove the toy again in a calm, gentle manner.
- After a consistent cycle of this training, your dog should learn that when they get too destructive, they loose the privilege of playing with the "object of desire" (the toy).
Be sure to reward/praise verbally the appropriate mouth behavior your dog does. Dogs (like kids) need to be shown which behaviors we do want from them, not just punished for unwanted behaviors!
Q: My dog bit a small chunk of material off the "neck" of the Leo toy. Can he/she still play with it?
A: The Leo itself is made from an FDA approved material. However you want to make sure that your dog doesn't ingest pieces of any toy! If damage has been done to the Leo on the "trumpet neck", you can take a sharp kitchen knife and cut the neck clean off where it meets the body of the toy. Most dogs will not go for the body as it is quite thick. Leo can still be used as a fun treat-release toy without the neck - it just will not connect with other toys, but your dog will still have a great challenge with it, and love it just the same. If your dog continues to try to destroy the Leo toy in any way, remove it from him/her immediately.
Q: Can the Leo toy be used for other games in addition to treat release?
A: Yes! The Leo toy is an excellent toy for playing fetch and tug with your dog. The material and shape of the toy causes it to bounce in wild unpredictable ways your dog will love. The "trumpet neck" design also makes an excellent handle for human hands in a rousing game of tug with your dog! Additionally both versions of the Leo float, so they are great at the lake and pool!
Q: How do I wash the Leo toys?
A: Both the "Extra" and "Regular" versions of the Leo toys may be washed in a household dishwasher, or with warm water and soap. Due to the large cross-cut hole designs it is easy to clean the Leo by hand, even if it has remnants of peanut butter and other tasty treats inside!