hill's crafted food
| |

Creative Dog Games with Kibble #InspiredByCrafted

small batch dog foodsponsored

I am the world’s worst cook. Seriously, I am one of the worst cooks in the world, and long-time readers of this blog know all too well about my culinary misgivings. I am so bad that the folks at The Food Network wanted me to appear as a contestant on their popular television show, Worst Cooks in America (click here to read why I said no).  Just because I lack cooking expertise does not mean my dog should suffer for it.

Cooking in small batches with a less processed and more home-cooked feel is all the rage, and rightfully so. Finally, this trend has made its way into mainstream and pet parents are privy to the artisan-style way of preparing food for Fido and Fluffy. If you are like me and either can’t cook or don’t have the time or energy to do so, Hill’s® recently rolled out their Ideal Balance Crafted  line of dog and cat foods in both kibble and canned forms.

dog chef
Dexter is ready for some home-cooked nom noms.


What is Small Batch?

Rather than mass producing food in large batches , small batch production involves dedicated master bakers crafting recipes with high quality meats, wholesome veggies, and ancient grains. In other words, it’s the good stuff you and I would eat… and now it’s available for our beloved pets.Hill's crafted dog food

Small Batch Cooking

Oven roasting dry kibble is not common, but it is a very effective technique. The dry dog food from the Crafted line involves:

Rolling out the dough

Carefully cutting each kibble and inspecting them

Oven roasting the kibble at 400 degrees so that dogs crave the pieces

For the wet foods, meat, gravy, and vegetables are mixed the way humans would to make a stew. For canning, the food is slow cooked at 250 degrees to lock in flavor and nutrition.

Dexter is small in size but large in spirit and zest for life.

Allergies are Rampant

Many pets seem to have allergies these days, present company included. As a lifelong dog mom with pets who suffered from allergies, I am all too familiar with the itch, scratch, and discomfort allergies cause to pets. My dog, Dexter, is an allergy sufferer, but his symptoms are controlled with medications, proper diet, and supplements. Since I am unable to rock the boat and switch up foods to try a new diet, I will only recommend a product that we try ourselves.

Select proteins are used in the Hill’s Crafted line like tuna, salmon, and beef: All three of these proteins are those to which my dog is not allergic. Can I have a wag and an amen to that? These ingredients also promote lean muscle for an active lifestyle. Grains like quinoa, buckwheat, and oats mean a healthy digestion without any nasty glutens. Couple that with chickpeas as a gluten-free legume, herbs, fruits, and veggies, and the flavor is locked in.

hill's crafted food
Even the packaging reflects the goodness inside.

Putting Crafted to the Test

My dog is not a fan of most kibble, and he is on a special diet for his lunch and dinner meals. So we decided to incorporate the Hill’s Crafted kibble into his nightly game play.  Indeed, this dog mom got creative with dog games in order to see if the Hill’s Crafted would be considered a high value reward to my finicky Cocker Spaniel. Give a peek at this video and then jump down for some behind-the-scenes scoop and how your dog or cat can get in on the small batch homemade frenzy sweeping the nation.

 Save and Try it for Your Dog or Cat

If you want to give the Hill’s Crafted dog food a try, check your local pet food supplier, and use the Ideal Balance coupons found here. 

For more about Hill’s and the Crafted line, look them up on Facebook or on the official Hill’s website for Crafted.

dog kissesQuestion: Do you ever reward your dog with kibble? Does your dog or cat like to play indoor games?


Similar Posts


  1. Thanks for this informative article about pet food. I have a friend who makes her own but my daughter buys hers so this is helpful. I’ll have my daughter check this out.

  2. Great post. Typically our kibble isn’t “high reward” enough for the boys. I have to use a soft treat with a strong smell to get them moving. I typically just cut back their portions at meal time to make up for it calorie wise (when we use a lot of treats for training). I love watching Dex though!

    1. That’s exactly what we thought: No way would he do it – but this kibble smells so good and has a different appearance to it – like a little homemade meatball almost. He went bonkers for it. Woofs and wags to your boys!

  3. We tested out Ideal Balance treats and loved them. We have a food we are happy with, so we won’t be switching, but we do like the brand.

  4. This is a great article and very informative! I think I am going to try this food on Coco and see if she likes it. She is a very picky eater and has allergies. All the proteins you mentioned she can actually eat! Lately she seems bored with the food she is on and doesn’t want to eat it so maybe we need to try this! Yes we have tried using food as rewards when playing games. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t LOL! I just noticed that you said in a comment that the food looked like little meatballs and Dex loved it. I make Coco meatballs sometimes so that is a plus if they look like little meatballs! 🙂

    1. Dex is a fusspot so I was so glad he took to this food and we use it as a reward. Tell Coco it’s a treat and she just might devour it!

  5. I may be your soul sister in the culinary arts because I think I tie you as worst cook ever! I love the pictures of your adorable dog — they make me miss my beloved Newfy and Chow Chow.

    1. HA – well it’s good to have safety in numbers! What beautiful breeds you had! TY for stopping by.

  6. Another excellent article, Carol. I appreciate all the informative information you give us regarding such important topics such as diet. I feed my boys kibble regularly, but their treats/bones are different. Mostly, they get broccoli or spinach or kale as a treat, but there are times when they get a bone from Dr. Mercola. We do play inside, but it’s mostly hide and seek or squeaker throw!

    1. Thanks so much. Kibble can be a lot of fun for game play, and I feel good feeding this made in the USA small batch new food. Dex went bonkers and tried to tear into the bag. I posted that on Instagram. He’s a hoot. Woofs to you and your pack!

  7. We have that same puzzle – I love it. Dexter’s much better as using it properly; Laika tends to flop the whole thing over and drop the whole board repeatedly to get the kibble out. I’ve tried teaching her the proper way to solve puzzles but I guess she’s impatient. I’m so glad that Laika doesn’t have allergies, I know it seems to be increasingly common these days. It’s great that they’re making grain free kibble – and I love the idea of small batches of cooking.

    1. Dex has become quite the puzzle solver. I even wrote to the puzzle manufacturer and asked for more advanced ones. He is a hoot. I like the idea of the small batches, too. Thanks for stopping by, Jen!

  8. Thanks for passing along this info Carol. I don’t buy McGee any food or treats that are made in China, so I was happy to read that Hills makes their Ideal Balance right here in the USA. I’m definitely going to look for them next time we’re in Pet Smart (one of McGee’s favorite places on Earth)!

  9. Sounds Doodle*licious! Dec looks pawdorable in his chef hat too! Yes, I reward with kibble, and it works. I use it a lot outdoors when we’re working on commands or away running errands. I think Harley knows that’s all I have with me, so he eats it, and I think Jax is catching on.

  10. The Ginger Sisters love playing with their food! Ruby’s favorite is “Catch the Kibble” where I toss it piece by piece across the floor for her to “hunt” and both girls eat out of “Fun Feeder” bowls every evening.

  11. Love the chef hat!!! Yes, I have used kibble during a training session for their treats, it didn’t seem to work quite as well as tiny cheese cubes which they all go crazy for!!! haha
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  12. Go Dexter! He did a great job of finding those pieces of Hill’s Ideal Balanced Crafted kibble! I feed my kitties wet food, so I really only use kibble as treats these days. My cats have never really had a game that they play for their treats, but I’m thinking about trying one sometime.

    1. He loves board games and cries to the toy and treat closet to play them, too. Do you think the kitties would like a game to play like this?

  13. Dexter is really a very special dog. He loves everything you do with him, and he is a great ambassador for Fidose of Reality. Companies are lucky to have him show and demonstrate that their product is worthy. He sure does that and does it well. I love watching your Dexter.

  14. Thank you for sharing this information – sounds like a high quality, delicious line of food!

  15. I had never really thought about the fact that dogs can get allergies, too, until recently. Poor dogs.

  16. Aw Dexter – you look SO ready BOL! We got to try the cat food, but Shiner was happy to have a small sample of the dog Crafted food. I let her eat it last night and couldn’t help but notice how you can tell the dog kibble is small batch cooked because all the pieces look different.

    1. We had a bit of an outtake here that we posted on Instagram, Ann. Let’s just say Dex is responsible for opening the bag of Hill’s Crafted!

  17. I would love to try this tuna with Bentley. I recently had a vet advise me about “cooling” proteins to help combat Bentley’s allergies. Tuna is neutral but the other ingredients are cool. Thanks, this is a new flavor to us.

  18. This is such a smart idea … a cooked meal for man’e best friend. I found this post informative .. I had no idea what small batch cooking was

    1. Thanks, Liz – always trying to think of ways to make food a reward and exercise the dog’s brain and body with a quality food or treat.

  19. Dex is such a good boy! I’m watching the video, thinking I wouldn’t get a word in edgewise over the corgi barking, and Dewi would probably pick up the whole toy and run into another room! 🙁
    Such a cool concept – the small batch cooking. The dogs are on rotation diets, so who knows? we might wind up giving this a go. We’ve tried just about all the Ideal Balance treat line and they LOVE those.

  20. I love Hill’s, and I’ve been impressed with the Ideal Balance foods, so we’ll definitely look into trying this! Thanks for sharing, and OMD, what adorable photos! The chef hat is just too much!

  21. I don’t have a pet, but my oldest daughter has two dogs. She cooks all their meals for them, and keeps them on a gluten free diet. She says they are so much more healthy since she started doing that.

  22. My kitties love anything by Hill’s Pet Food. I like that their products are made in the USA.
    I love that board game. Where can I find one?

    P.S. Dexter is beyond adorable in that chef hat. <3

    1. Hi Kimberly – that is the Nina Ottosson Casino board game and he loves it. We have several of her dog games and they are great for indoor rainy day or cold weather fun. Dex sez thanks for the chef hat compliments 😉

  23. There seems to be several benefits to Small Batch! I’ll have to think about this for our dog, Dexter!

  24. Dex is a great PR manager! My guys love the puzzles and we do use kibble as the treats. Great post – thanks for the info. With my Gibson being an epileptic, it’s important I keep him grain-free, so this was very informative for me and nice to know about another food we can add to the “good” list!

    1. Yep Dex is the man and he likes to show his talents – and is very ball and treat motivated. Nice to hear someone else uses kibble for treats. So glad that your Gibson is okay 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.