Dog bones and keeping them busy

We bought some bones for our dog at the pet store. The marrow is removed and they are filled with something—flavors like bacon and cheese or peanut butter are common. I don’t know how they’re shelf stable but they’re shrink wrapped and sit out at room temps

They’re expensive (in all fairness I think they sterilize them before selling). A six inch filled bone might run $8. Well, that got very expensive very quickly. So we started (re)filling them. We boil sweet potato, scramble egg, throw in yogurt, maybe add coconut flour to thicken.

Is anybody else doing this? We’d like to make something that the dog doesn’t tear through in 15 minutes. Aliens from outer space would think our dog runs our house, which of course she doesn’t. I think.

OK dog owners, how do you keep them at bay? FTR we gave a chocolate lab and during the 4 hours per day when she isn’t sleeping, she’s a total ho for food.

Since this is asking about personal experience, it’s better suited to IMHO than General Questions. (I have to say I was tempted to move it to Cafe Society, though.)

General Questions Moderator

My dog is a total couch potato, so we don’t have to do much to keep her busy. But, if we know we’ll be gone all day or otherwise think she’ll need something to keep her busy, we fill a Kong with canned dog food and then freeze it. She’ll gnaw and lick it for hours usually. She’s also good about keeping it on her bed. Probably not practical if your dog tends to drag it around.

We also use puzzle balls to feed her kibble for meals, so she has to work for her food. Good mental stimulation.

We keep peanut butter mixed with some kibble in the freezer in small clumps. You can put them in a Kong as needed.

My Mini Aussie is an aggressive chewer. Rather than bones, we’ve found that pieces of antler work well. They are completely digestible and are not died, so they leave no stains on the rugs.

They are available on Amazon, but I buy them at the local farm supply store. A good sized piece about 7-8" long lasts about a month.

Depending on where you live, you may be able to walk the woods in the spring and pick up sheds.

For dog treats (not necessarily long lasting) I stop at our local turkey farm. They sell bags of turkey livers and bags of gizzards by the pound. The last time I stopped in the owner asked if I could use some turkey hearts. They threw in a 5 pound bag (hundreds of hearts) along with my livers and gizzards.

I get a pot of water boiling, drop in my entrails, and simmer for a bit. The dogs are happy.

I’ve tried all sorts of things that were supposed to be long-lasting chewable treats for the dogs. I’ve yet to find anything that lasts longer than 15 minutes that’s indoor friendly.

Filled marrow bones (OP mentioned) - the dogs lost interest after they couldn’t get any more of the pretend marrow out
Frozen stuff in a kong - extremely messy in the house
Bully sticks (bull penis) - didn’t last long and extremely stinky and expensive
Yak chews (“hours of chewing enjoyment,” says the ad) - Luca had his eaten in under 10 minutes
Antlers - They love them at first but lose interest after a while
Treat balls (treats or kibble fall out of holes when it’s rolled) - They love these but can empty them quickly

What will keep them busy for hours:
Empty peanut butter jars - They’ll work for hours trying to get the last bit of peanut butter out. Outside entertainment only.
Real bones - I get beef leg bones (about 4" long) from the meat dept at the grocery store. The dogs get them raw and will lay outside for hours working on them. They eat whatever meat is left on the bone and work on the marrow. But like I say, OUTSIDE.
Rolled up rawhide chews (I know they’re not the best for dogs) seem to last the longest

Another vote for Kong here. We used to heavily smear peanut butter on the inside, then throw in a few small dry treats or just dry dog food kibble, then cap off with more peanut butter. We’d come home from work to find an empty Kong and a sleeping dog (outside in her little dog house), so we knew she spend most of the day working out the last bit of the peanut butter.

I am a little wary of real bones and antlers, at least for my current dog, as he has had some dental issues and tends to break off a hunk and swallow it whole.

Duke loves antlers. They are completely digestible, but not cheap, and climbing in price under the pandemic. If your dog has dental issues he won’t be breaking pieces off, but if he does then swallowing them is not a problem like bone can be.

If you shop around you may find deals on antlers but I’d say on average we’re paying close to $2 per inch of antler. Sammy wants to chew any antler Duke has been chewing on but he’s older and he doesn’t have adamantium teeth like Duke does so he’ll get bored with that quickly. He pretty much gets bored with anything quickly though.

Antlers have been a life saver in getting Duke to stop chewing anything he can get his mouth over. That was a problem when we first got him and Max, a tiny Jack Russel, was still with us as Duke’s mouth would fit over Max. They worked that out but every table and chair leg, every power cord and hose was a target for him. Luckily at about 1 1/2 years old he began to focus just on his toys instead of anything else he saw.

Thanks for the replies, all!

Yep, 15 minutes for indoor friendly may be a hard limit. We have a friend who dogsits a lot in his house. We turned him on to the home filled bone idea and when he needs an hour’s peace, each of his charges gets one. He said they actually respect each other’s space, don’t try to steal, and so on. But because the dogs are inexperienced it takes them longer.

Our lab has reduced it to child’s play. Being a larger dog, of course, she has a longer tongue. But she’s also had LOTS of practice. She’s got pretty strong jaws; Mrs. L is afraid she’d break off or chip off a lot of products. We gave her a few rawhide treats but they seemed to stop her up, so to speak.

She loves these; I can’t speak to the hip and joint claims, however.

We had one bone she never could seem to get cleaned out. I put one of the beloved chew treats in the middle and she got to it. But we think the edges of the bone were getting sharp, and maybe they cut into her lip etc. so we retired it.

Nope. Field Mice, Squirrels and Rabbits come with their own bones.

Hey, me too!

The only chewable thing that keeps my dogs busy is a Kong with stuff inside. I use wet dog food instead of peanut butter. And if I can remember to set it up ahead of time, freezing it helps. They have every sort of bone imaginable but they really don’t have any interest in them.

A Kong with frozen stuff in it works for about a half hour. MAYBE an hour. But it does make them tired.

Usually our go-to is a treat ball, which keeps them moving and is easier for me to get together on short notice.

Ginger (beagle/cattle dog mix) loves the empty peanut butter jars. She like antlers, but will eventually lose interest and not touch it for a while. Anything that is labeled “hours of chewing” is shredded in under 10 minutes.

Yep. All of the above. Freeze peanut butter or spread cheese inside the bones on a Kong. The empty peanut butter containers are awesome (and putting a little more peanut butter in the bottom with a spatula refreshes the fun!). Soup bones. We’ve tried antlers, less interested. Most of the other stuff doesn’t last long enough to be worth buying.

We haven’t had any luck with antlers, but my dog did get interested in a horn – I think it’s water buffalo. It’s big enough that swallowing it was not a concern, and she did keep going back to it. Only thing is, I don’t know where it is now. I’m guessing she took it outside and buried it.

Rawhides are the worst – she either wolf’s them down and pukes them back up, or chews on them for awhile, then takes them out and buried them. Then later, she digs them up and carried around the stinking soggy thing. Ugh.

I have to admit I’d never heard of Kongs before:

I give Pluto treat puzzles to solve in the evenings.

He has a jagged doughnut-shaped chew object. Into the center hole I insert his other, bone-shaped chews plus a treat item, either a carrot or one of his Dentastix. The trick is to jam everything in there so it’s a tight fit and he has to work at getting the treat detached.

He’s gotten very good at puzzle-solving, having a relatively high food drive but nowhere near that of a Labrador.*

*one of my favorite lines about Labs was that they would go back years later to revisit the cherished spot where someone once dropped a hot dog. Our chocolate Lab, Bessie was like that.

Just a reminder to please not leave your dog alone with any chew item that can break apart and get stuck in their throats. Kongs are supposed to be ok (but they do eventually wear out - especially if you leave them in the sun) and those huge bones that pretty much feel like rocks with a hole through the middle are good. But peanut butter jars are DEFINITELY choking hazards (mine start ripping them apart as soon as the PB is gone) as are any bone meant to be consumed.

The treat ball I linked to is safe but I have seen pictures of smaller dogs (maybe 30 lbs or less) getting their teeth stuck in the holes. Make sure you get the right size toys for your dogs!

Seconded. Kongs do eventually wear out - our first dog had jaws of steel and when the outside started to show some tooth wear we would get her a new one (the old one just became another throw toy used only under supervision).