Increasing the life-saving capacity of animal shelters and communities through education, shelter outreach, and development of new knowledge

PVC food dispensing toy - How to Make!

Date:
Document Type: Information Sheet
Topics: Behavior and Enrichment
Species: Canine

What do dogs love more than eating dinner? Getting food, enrichment, mental stimulation and play all at the same time! Many shelters feed dogs out of food dispensing toys to accomplish just that. Sounds expensive? Not if you get creative and make the toys yourself.

A local shelter had an Eagle Scout make food dispensing toys as a project.  They have different sizes to meet the needs of all of the shelter dogs.  Dogs eat their morning meal out of a bowl and then receive their evening meal in these food dispensing toys.  Once the dogs are done playing and eating, the toys can be fully cleaned and disinfected – just take off the cap and put them in the dishwasher. 

The animal care supervisor at the shelter, tells us that “according to my staff it is incredibly fun to watch the dogs, particularly when they first discover how to get the food.  Some of the dogs throw the toy all around the kennel.  They (the staff) particularly enjoy using the toys to feed the dogs in intake/holding, who otherwise get less interaction and stimulus with the volunteers than the dogs in adoption.”

Read on to learn how to make these PVC pipe dog food dispensing toys for your shelter.

Determine the size(s) of toy wanted and buy the needed parts accordingly:

  • 1” for small pipe diameter toys
  • 1.5” for medium diameter toys
  • 2” for large pipe diameter toys

For each toy you will need 3 PVC parts (all for the same size pipe) and PVC pipe:

1. Male adapter

2. Screw cap

Alternatively a female adaptor and corresponding screw cap can be used – just be consistent and what you select so your pieces will fit together.

3. Slip cap – for non- opening end

4.  Corresponding sized PVC pipe

  • We do not recommend ABS pipe (black pipe) due to it being more brittle
  • Cost $3.00 to $20.00 for 10’ of pipe depending on size of pipe

Other equipment and supplies that are needed for this project:

  • Drill
  • Drill bit the size you want the food dispensing holes to be
  • PVC glue
  • Saw to cut PVC – handsaw, miter saw, etc.
  • Small piece of sandpaper

Steps for assembly:

1. Cut PVC pipe to desired length – for example:

  • ~ 4” for small pipe diameter toys (using 1” pipe)
  • ~ 6” for medium diameter toys (using 1.5" pipe)
  • ~10” for large pipe diameter toys (using 2" pipe)

2. Remove the PVC burrs along the cut edges of pipe with sandpaper

3. Using PVC glue attach the slip cap to one end of the pipe

4. Using PVC glue attach the male adapter to the other end

5. Screw cap onto male adapter

6. Drill holes into PVC pipe where desired 

  • Alternatively holes can be drilled first but is easier to see locations for drilling after the toy is made

7.  Empty out PVC filings from drilling out the holes and wash toy – it is ready for use!

Although these toys are very durable breakage may occur – always monitor before and after use.

More ideas for enrichment feeding can be found at:

 http://www.aspcapro.org/resource/saving-lives-behavior-enrichment/make-meal-time-enriching

http://www.animalfarmfoundation.org/pages/Intro-To-Enrichment