Try this tasty dog food enrichment hack for a treat your pup will love (spoiler alert: it costs less than a dollar!)

Puppy eating a pepper
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Food enrichment is a surefire way to stimulate our dogs’ minds, giving them the valuable nutrients (and tasty treats!) they need to stay healthy but also making their brains work.

If food enrichment is something you’d like to explore in more depth, the sheer number of products out there can make it daunting — where do you begin? Well, as it turns out, you might not need much more than just a few of the best dog treats or your dog’s usual food, and a couple of inexpensive extras. Extras, in fact, that you might already have at home!

Certified dog trainer Melissa Goodman of Mission Pawsitive has offered an easy hack that’ll allow you to give your pup some food enrichment for just under a dollar in a recent Instagram post, so there’s no need to buy anything fancy.

Goodman begins her video by explaining that she’s taking the raw food her dog, Aspen, usually eats, and a simple bell pepper. She cuts the pepper in half, removes the seeds, and fills it with Aspen’s food — just as you might fill a Kong toy, for example. 

“I stick it in the freezer, and serve!” she continues. “The consistency of the raw food is perfect for this, but you can do this with other types of food too.

Goodman explains that bell peppers are a good source of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins A and C, while a lot of pooches enjoy the texture, too, another reason why this is great food enrichment for dogs.

She adds, “If your dog has never had a bell pepper, give them a few pieces before giving them a larger amount. They’re usually easy on the stomach, but too much of something new can sometimes be too much for more sensitive tummies.”

You can always mix the food up, too — in fact, Goodman actively encourages giving your pup a varied diet to minimize the risk of upset stomachs. While she uses raw food, you can try cooked food, freeze-dried food, and even kibble. Simply soak the kibble in hot water so that it softens, before putting it in the pepper and freezing. For even more variety, why not try these 10 frozen dog treats and ice-cream recipes to make for your pooch?

Or, you could put anything from peanut butter to mashed-up fruit to plain Greek yogurt in there. Anything that’s safe for dogs and freezes well should work! And, pretty much anything you might put in a Kong toy or similar is likely to be a good fit. 

If you’d like to learn more about enrichment, you might like to check out these five things every dog owner should know.

West Paw Toppl Dog Toy 
$29.95 from Chewy

West Paw Toppl Dog Toy 
$29.95 from Chewy
A treat dispensing puzzle that can be filled with kibble, peanut butter, cheese chunks or smashed banana, this toy is ideal for giving your dog's brain a good workout. 

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.