Mental enrichment is so important to our dogs’ well-being. A tired dog is a happy dog and keeping their mind active is as much a part of daily exercise as going for walks.
If you missed my recent post about our favorite puzzles and games, you can check it out here. But fortunately – as we’re all housebound now – you don’t have to rush out to the store or go online to buy anything. You probably have a whole world of dog brainteasers in your house already.
We’re going to be using some things that aren’t made for dogs so keep that in mind and supervise your dog at all times.
DIY dog enrichment toys
- Create your own snuffle mat. A snuffle mat is made of fabric pieces, all you do is put some kibble or treats in and let your dog snuffle and search. Dogs love sniffing and finding food and this will be a big hit with everyone. A google search will return many how-tos for snuffle mats and you can also buy one ready-made. Here’s an example.
- Muffin tin and tennis balls. Have an empty muffin tim? Pop in some of your dog’s favorite treats and fill the muffin cups with tennis balls. Dogs love treats and dogs love tennis balls so how could this not be a winning combination? If your dog finds moving the tennis ball too tricky at first, try putting some regular dog toys over the treats in the muffin cups. Your dog will soon figure out that lifting the object means finding the treats.
- Empty toilet paper roll? We all have ’em. Cut some slits in the end, close one end off, then fill will treats or food. Close the other end and hand it off to your dog.
- Towels and tea towels. Take one of your dog’s towels and crumple it up with some treats inside. To get the treats, your dog has to sniff and dig and work his way around the towel.
- Scent work. My dogs love scent work. You need some empty boxes or bowls. Pick one box that will be designated the treat box. then spread the boxes around and let your dog search for the one with the treats. You can make this game harder by adding a scent such as birch (we use that in scent work training) or moving the treats to the floor and having your dog search the house.
- Create your own agility course. Use your imagination – anything goes! Crawl under chairs, sit on the ottoman, jump over a mop, make jumps out of boxes. This is a fun activity for the whole family.
- Kong. If you have a Kong there are so many ways you can get creative filling it. I’m a huge fan of freezing a kong with some peanut butter or plain yogurt, mix in some treats, some honest kitchen food, a bully sticks, pet friend fruit. The possibilities are endless!
- Training! Always, training is a great way to provide stimulation. Check out our blog for training ideas so that every day can be an enriching day for you and your dog
I hope these activities keep you and your pets busy at home together. Be sure not to miss our blog post on dog chews that provide mental enrichment too!