When you have two intelligent terriers – well, Phoebe’s probably smarter than Frank – it can be really difficult to find mentally stimulating toys that are challenging without being frustrating. It’s a really tough balance to nail, because too hardy with little reward leads to irritation, while easier toys get boring and often, chewed up as a result.
I often buy plush squeaky toys for Phoebe and Frank to trash, because this meets their natural hunting instinct needs, while rubber or natural chews give them the opportunity to gnaw. But for mental development and puzzle solving, we’ve previously found it quite difficult to find the right toy for the Scamps.
We tried the KONG Replay to see if this ‘next generation’ treat dispensing toy could entertain our cheeky Staffies for 20 minutes. This is roughly the amount of time we find helps Phoebe and Frank expend excess energy without getting overstimulated or frustrated.
The KONG Replay looks like a purple dumbbell and comes in two sizes – we got the larger version for Phoebe and Frank. There are two green stoppers on either end of the toy for filling each side with treats, with two holes for the treats, or kibble, to dispense. The centre of the dumbbell features a weight, which means when the toy rolls along the ground, it rolls back towards the dog, releasing more rewards.
The paw-powered toy sparks your dogs chasing instincts, and as it rolls back, they can push it again with either their paw or nose to get more treats from it – it’s almost like the toy is playing back with them.
One downside to this toy is that the green stoppers are incredibly difficult to get out. My dad had to use a pair of plyers to get them out, which has left an indent in them. However, I do think that the more you use the toy and the more frequently used the stoppers are, they will loosen up slightly.
The two treat ports are slightly different, with one dispensing treats easier than the other, but I found the size of both dispensers to be quite good for most sized treats or kibble in our cupboard. We really like using the Canagan kibble, taking a handful of Phoebe and Frank’s daily food allowance and adding it to the toy, or filling it with treats like Denzels bites for a reward.
Phoebe and Frank were instantly interested in the toy, and were quick to work out that it dispensed treats. Phoebe was very good at rolling the toy, but Frank’s method consisted of picking it up in his mouth and dropping it in the hopes of getting the kibble out.
We found that the toy did mark quite easily with deep teeth marks if it was picked up or gnawed at. This is going to happen during play as they explore the toy – so you have to accept it won’t look brand new even after the first play.
Pros of the KONG Replay include that it’s well priced at £15.00, and is very sturdy, with two levels of difficulty that the dogs found very engaging. It’s one of the few things they’ll share as they can play with it together – but of course dogs who get a bit narky about food might need separate toys. It can be used for indoor or outdoor play, and is big enough that it doesn’t end up getting stuck under the TV unit or sofa.
The only downsides are the stoppers being quite fiddly – these could have been designed to allow for better grip – and the fact that the material is easily marked with teeth and claws. If you have a particularly enthusiastic dog, you may also find the weighted element an issue should they decide to throw the toy around. To avoid this, choose the correct size toy for your dog, and avoid playing with it near any TVs or mirrors.