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I chose this particular dog toy because my dog really likes to play with old 2-liter bottles. He especially likes it when I put tiny dog treats inside an empty plastic bottle. He’ll play for a long time just nosing the bottle around on the floor and pawing at it with his toes. And he really likes making the plastic crinkle, pop, and crack while he’s trying vigorously to get the treats out of the bottle.
Of course, at the end of his play session with a plastic bottle (which can last an entire evening), the bottle is always thrown away — because, at this point, there are usually some sharp corners of plastic. Not to mention the fact that the treats have mostly been emptied, and the bottle itself is in some strange contortion that is no longer rollable, tossable, or even chewable.
So I thought the Tug-A-Jug would be a more permanent option to the old 2-liter bottle dog toy idea.
I got the largest one that is “best for dogs over 40 lbs”. (I have an 80 lb Black Lab.)
My Dog’s First Impression
FUN! He was very intrigued. He especially liked the rope first. He gnawed on that for a long time and had fun flinging the bottle that’s attached to the rope all around the room.
The Tug-A-Jug is a treat-dispensing dog toy — so you put treats inside and they fall out naturally as your dog plays with the toy.
Your dog can:
- See the treats (barely) through the thick purple bottle sides.
- Smell the treats through the open end where the treats fall out, as well as the closed end which has small ‘scent holes’.
- Hear the treats as the bottle rolls around on the floor.
- And with a little effort, and just the right amount of finesse, your dog can… taste the victory!
My First Impression
The Tug-A-Jug comes in 3 different sizes: XSmall, Small, and Medium/Large. We chose the largest one. (When in doubt, go up a size!)
It has a large knotted rope that doesn’t come out because it’s knotted tightly on both ends. The rope stays part-way inside the neck of the bottle, and part-way outside of the bottle itself. As a result, the rope also makes for a great ‘handle’… something for your dog to grab onto in order to swing around the bottle a bit. This also gives your dog another way to make the treats to come out. That, and the act of pushing the bottle around on the floor — with their paw or their nose.
The bottle also has a textured rubber wrap around the neck of the bottle that works in a small way to clean the teeth and gums. But, to be honest, my dog doesn’t nibble on that rubbery part at all.
The screw-on lid — with an opening that is big enough to fit your wrist into — is VERY tight and secure. There are so many ‘threads’ that require you to screw it about a million times before it’s secure on the bottle. But that means there’s no way your dog can unscrew the lid. Can’t even loosen it!
The bottle itself is tough and durable. There’s no breaking this type of thick, hard plastic. They say it’s made of “durable, safe, bulletproof plastic — a non-toxic material that withstands hours of prolonged play!” It does scratch noticeably from your dog’s toenails. But who cares?… it’s a dog toy! They never stay looking like new for very long.
The rope acts kind of as a shovel to help push the treats out of the bottle’s narrow neck opening. TIP: The smaller the treats you use, the more likely they will fall out. The larger the treats you use, the greater the challenge your dog will have getting the treats out.
Why We Really Like It
Jim and I think that interactive toys like this (filled with treats) help make your dog a tidier eater.
What I mean is… for some reason our dogs have always had the bad habit of taking a big bite of dog food from their bowl, then moving away from the bowl and dropping several pellets of food onto the floor, while chewing on what remains in their mouth. Usually they’ll go back and eat the remaining pieces off the floor. But sometimes, they get lazy and just leave some dog food pieces lying on the floor by their bowl.
Well, interactive treat toys like this are built on the fact that your dog has to eat off the floor and scoop up all of the tiny pieces that they find lying around. And after playing with toys like this, it seems our dog does a better job of not leaving dog food lying around his bowl anymore. When he sees kibble on the floor, he eats it. No matter where it is. As a dog owner, you’ve gotta love that.
We’ve also found that toys like this actually stimulate his appetite more. Our dog goes through spells where he just doesn’t want to eat much ‘regular’ food. He’s not skinny or fat. He’s just not hungry sometimes. This can last for days. But when we bring out this type of interactive treat toy, it’s as if he is reminded how good the food tastes, and it sort of kick-starts his appetite again.
The Tug-A-Jug is definitely exciting and fun for dogs. I like it because it’s an interactive dog toy that provides multi-sensory appeal — rather than just one-dimensional appeal. The many different features built into this toy keep your dog engaged, challenged, and motivated — which means longer lasting playtime for your dog!
One of my best tips to keep interactive dog toys (or any dog toy, really) “new” and fun for your dog is to not leave them out for your dog to play with day in and day out. These should be ‘special occasion’ toys. That way, they’re truly enjoyed to the fullest whenever they are presented to your dog. I keep toys like this hidden away and I bring them out randomly — a different one every few days.
My Only Complaints
The bottle itself is almost TOO hard. I wish it had a little more ‘give’ to it, so a dog could actually grip it a bit. I’m not necessarily talking about a rubbery grip (my dog isn’t attracted to that type, he prefers hard & crunchy toys to soft and bouncy ones). Perhaps a softer plastic, or maybe a dual-layer bottle where the outside ‘gives’ a little and the inside is the indestructible ballistic grade plastic.
Along those same lines, the bottle is way too slick. So on those rare occasions that the dog gets his mouth around the bottle as if to carry it away, it slips right out of his mouth since the sides of the bottle have no texture to them.
The bottle is also a little heavy. So it’s not even fun for a dog to get his mouth around it and carry it away. (Remember, I got the largest one.)
6 Tug-A-Jug Dog Toy Tips
TIP #1: On first glance, you might think the treats need to be crammed into the narrow neck of the bottle. Nope — the wide round bottom “unscrews” for easy filling of dog treats!
TIP #2: Put hard, crunchy treats inside the Tug-A-Jug toy. (Soft treats will get stuck inside and become too difficult to get out of the toy.) Some inexpensive ideas are: Wellness All-Natural Crunchy Puppy Bites, Cheerios, or even your dog’s regular dry kibble. Personally, I like to buy a small bag of dry dog food that my dogs don’t regularly eat — so it’s like a treat for them when they find it inside their toys. One example is Beneful dog food. I like it because the food pellets are various different shapes!
TIP #3: At first, you’ll want to use smaller treats inside the Tug-A-Jug. They come out faster — so your dog will immediately be rewarded as he’s playing with his new toy. Then, after your dog becomes more experienced with the Tug-A-Jug, start using larger dog treats. They come out more slowly — so your dog will be more challenged to get the treats out of the Tug-A-Jug.
TIP #4: If your dog happens to eat their regular dog food too fast, consider using the Tug-A-Jug only at dinner time — to feed your dog their entire meal! When you fill the Tug-A-Jug with your dog’s own kibble, it makes dinner time fun for your dog.
TIP #5: Even if your dog happens to eventually chew through the rope, the Tug-A-Jug dog toy is still fully usable even without the rope part! Simply place golf balls or small dog balls inside the jug part — along with some dog treats or kibble. As the balls roll back & forth, they interfere with the dispensing of kibble.
TIP #6: You can adjust the level of difficulty of the Tug-A-Jug simply by changing the size of the items that you place inside the jug part. The larger the balls (or treats) are inside, the more difficult it will be for your dog to get the tasty treats out!
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I like to help Dog Parents find unique ways to do things that will save time & money — so I write about "outside the box" Dog Tips and Dog Hacks that most wouldn't think of. I’m a lifelong dog owner — currently have 2 mixed breed Golden Aussies that we found abandoned on the side of the road as puppies. I've always trained my own dogs and help friends train theirs, as well. Professionally, I worked at a vet and have several friends who are veterinarians — whom I consult with regularly. (And just because I love animals so much, I also worked at a Zoo for awhile!) I've been sharing my best ideas with others by blogging full-time since 1998 (the same year that Google started… and before the days of Facebook and YouTube). My daily motivation is to help first-time dog owners be better prepared from the first day your new puppy enters your home. I like to help dog owners understand what's 'normal' and what you can expect in terms of living with and training your dog — how to get through the ups & downs of potty training, chewing, teaching commands, getting your dog to listen, and everything else that takes place during that hectic first year! When I'm not training, walking, grooming, or making homemade treats for my dogs, you will find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites). To date, I've written over 500 articles for dog owners on this site!