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DIY Dog Puzzle ideas
When you have a dog, you need to make sure you provide enough physical exercise and mental stimulation.
Long walks, playtime, and the occasional run can keep your dog happy and fit.
But, it doesn’t replace the need for brain games and canine enrichment.
Many dog owners hear the word “exercise” and automatically think of physical activity.
But, mental exercise is different and dogs obtain it through other types of activities.
It is something that makes the dog use its brain, and a reasonably difficult challenge designed to motivate the dog to think in order to obtain a reward.
While mental and physical exercise are two different concepts, they are both equally important when raising a healthy and content dog.
You’ll find thousands of enrichment toys on the market today, but did you know you can also make your own?
Making DIY dog puzzles and enrichment toys is a great way to change things up and keep your furry friend entertained, while also keeping costs low and sticking to a budget!
Dogs aren’t picky.
They’ll love a homemade toy just as much as the expensive kibble dispenser or treat puzzle game you’ve been wanting to buy.
Dog Puzzle 101: Safety First
Before we get started, a quick safety reminder is in place.
Enrichment dog toys you purchase are usually made to withstand biting, scratching, and rough play.
Even so, you should always supervise your dog during play.
When you make your own DIY dog puzzle toys, the materials and objects used don’t tend to be as durable, making supervision even more important.
Some dogs have a tendency to chew up plastic, paper, and more.
This could lead to obstruction, and the below games aren’t suitable for all dogs.
Use common sense and your best judgment when choosing games for your dog, and always supervise.
Simple DIY Dog Puzzle Toys to Make at Home
Whenever you introduce a new dog puzzle or dog enrichment game, prepare to be patient!
Your dog might not understand what it is meant to do right away.
Iit can take both time and effort before it starts making sense to the four-legged participant.
Your job is to make sure the game is not too difficult.
As the goal is to make your dog think and use its mind, and not to cause frustration.
Another thing to keep in mind is that all dogs are different.
Your pup might like one game significantly more than another.
Challenge your dog with new games from time to time.
Also, pay attention to those that appear to become favorites.
Some dogs prefer to push toys around, others rather use their nose or lick content from, for example, a Kong.
Here are five ideas for simple dog puzzle toys you can make yourself.
1. Frozen Apple
If you are familiar with popular enrichment toys like the West Paw Toppl and Kong, you are going to love this DIY tip!
All you need is an apple, a knife, and something to fill the apple with.
Peanut butter is a great option (just make sure it is Xylitol-free).
You can also use plain and unsweetened yogurt, wet dog food, pumpkin, or any other dog-safe favorite.
Start by removing the core from the apple using either a knife or an apple corer.
Make sure you remove all the seeds.
Apple seeds are known to contain cyanide, and while it’s a very small trace amount, it could build up over time and it’s better to be on the safe side.
You choose whether to remove the peel, too.
Fill the hollow apple with the treat of your choice and place it in the freezer for a few hours.
Your dog will have a blast eating its way to the yummy treat inside the fruit.
The apple itself serves as a healthy, edible Kong-type toy.
2. Bottle Dispenser
One of the easiest DIY dog toys to make is a homemade kibble dispenser.
You need a plastic bottle, a knife and a lighter.
Start by removing the bottle cap and the plastic ring that goes around the opening.
These present a choking hazard.
Proceed to cut one or several additional holes in the side of the bottle.
The hole(s) should be big enough for treats to come out.
Use the lighter to slightly burn the edges of your cut-out holes, to make them less sharp and prevent your pup from cutting his tongue or mouth while playing.
This toy is perfect for making mealtime more fun and challenging.
You can fill the bottle with your dog’s dinner or small treats.
3. DIY Dog Towel Puzzle
Have you ever heard of a snuffle mat?
These are toys that allow your dog to use its nose to sniff out treats, and a simple way to provide your pup with a similar challenge is with a towel!
Any old towel will do, and the trick is to put kibble or treats in the middle and wrap and twist the towel into a bundle.
The dog’s job is to unwrap the towel again and sniff out what’s hidden inside.
Too easy for your four-legged friend?
Wet the towel first, repeat the process of adding treats and wrapping it into a small bundle and place it in the freezer.
A frozen towel takes significantly longer to unwrap and can provide some much-needed cooling on hot days.
Towels can also be reused, but remember to wash them from time to time to prevent them from becoming a growing ground for bacteria.
4. Ice Cube Tray
Is your dog new to canine enrichment activities and brain games?
You can use an ice cube tray as a slow feeder, by adding kibble to the slots.
This might not work for an experienced fur friend but can help slow down a puppy or a dog that is only just getting started with dog puzzles.
Once your pup gets the hang of it, try adding some bone broth, plain and unsweetened yogurt, or just water, and place it in the freezer.
This is a great treat for summer play, as it helps cool your dog down while providing an engaging activity.
You can try a few different treats and fillers to keep it interesting.
Serve either in the ice cube tray for more prolonged fun, or hand out the ice cubes individually.
5. Bottle on a String
When you and your four-legged friend are ready for a bigger challenge, get some string and a plastic bottle!
Remove the bottle cap and make a hole in each side of the plastic bottle for the string to run through.
Make sure you place the holes in the middle for ultimate equilibrium so that the bottle can be spun around.
Tie one end of the string to a table leg and the other to one of the other table legs, or to anything that will place the string with the bottle at a suitable height for your dog.
Fill the bottle up with kibble or treats.
The purpose of the game is for your dog to use its snout or paws to turn the bottle upside down for the treats to fall out.
If you want to make it a little easier, try cutting off the top half of the bottle to create a bigger opening.
Dogs need more than just the occasional walk and game of fetch, and mental stimulation is essential.
Luckily, it doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on new enrichment toys and dog food puzzles, as most of us have everything we need at home.
Try out these DIY dog puzzle ideas and let us know what you think!