The Best DIY Dog Enrichment Activities
As a pet parent, you want to give your pup the best life possible. But sometimes our budgets don’t always stretch far enough for all the awesome store-bought toys and treat puzzles we’d love to get them. That’s why I put together this list of the best DIY Dog Enrichment Activities that you can do from home!
Why do Dogs Need Mental Stimulation?
Dogs need enrichment activities just as much as humans do, if not more. Mental stimulation, physical exercise, and environmental enrichment give dogs an outlet to explore, create, and use critical thinking by providing opportunities to make choices and solve problems. After an enrichment activity, dogs will have a greater capacity to learn, become more resilient to daily stressors and build better relationships with others both canine and human.
Playing with toys and games that challenge your pup’s skills is great, but it can be even more enjoyable when the whole family gets in on the fun! Enrichment activities are a fantastic way to bring everyone together for some quality bonding time. – making memories that will last a lifetime!
Enrichment activities have a positive effect on our dog’s mental health and can prevent the occurrence of any destructive behavior and habits unwanted behaviors like barking and chewing on on your couch.
Enrichments Are Particularly Helpful with Puppy Socialization
Enriching toys and activities give your puppy many visual experiences which will aid in developing their brain. Problem solving skills they practice at an age will enable them to become strong adult dogs.
The best way to encourage puppy enrichment toys should be to keep things positive, it shouldn’t be easy for them to become confused when it comes to a game or puzzles. Start easy and slowly get started on more complicated games food puzzles.
DIY Dog Enrichment Toys and Activities
These do-it-yourself dog projects are not only budget friendly, but will also have your four-legged friend barking with excitement! From boredom busters like scent trails and indoor agility courses, to home made toys, you won’t have any problem keeping your dogs entertained without breaking the bank. Let’s start having some fur-ocious fun!
Make a Homemade Snuffle Mat
A snuffle mat is a delightful food enrichment tool for pets, designed to stimulate their senses, challenge their intelligence, and encourage their natural foraging instincts. This innovative accessory made of a fabric or rubber mat consisting of overlapping fabric strips or loops, through which small treats or dry kibble can be hidden.
As your furry companion begins to sniff, snuffle, and rustle through the layers finding food, they are rewarded with tasty morsels, providing both physical and mental stimulation. Snuffle mats not only slow down overly eager eaters, but also offer an engaging way to alleviate boredom and reduce stress.
To make a basic dog snuffle mat, you will need an old towel, a pair of scissors, and some dog treats or kibbles of your dog’s food. First, cut the towel into strips. Then, tie the strips together in a knot. Once you have a large knot, start stuffing it with treats inside. Once the knot is full of the treats inside, give it to your dog and let them have at it!
Play Hide and Seek
This one is easy, but often overlooked (pun intended)! Hide and seek is a classic game that dogs love. To play hide and seek with your dog, simply have them sit or stay while you hide. Once you are hidden, call your dog’s name and let them find you! You can make the game more challenging by hiding in difficult-to-find places or by using multiple hiding spots.
Create an Obstacle Course
An obstacle course or agility course is a great way to get your dog moving and thinking. To create an obstacle course, you can use common household items such as chairs, tables, hula hoops, tunnels, etc. Get creative and come up with different ways for your your dog’s food to navigate the course. Once you have created the agility course, encourage your your dog’s brain to go through it by offering treats or toy rewards.
Go on a Scavenger Hunt
A scavenger hunt dog toy is another great way to keep your dog’s mind active. To play, simply hide small treats or toys around your house or yard and then let your dog find them! You can make the game more difficult by hiding the items in hard-to-reach places or by using multiple hiding spots.
Food Tube Dog Puzzle
Creating a food tube dog puzzle not only stimulates your furry friend’s brain but also provides a fun and enriching activity that can keep them entertained. The process of making one is simple and budget-friendly, utilizing a used cardboard box or tube, such as a paper towel or empty toilet paper roll, and your dog’s favorite treats.
To start, close off one end of the tube by folding or taping it shut. Next, cut a variety of treat fitting holes in the tube. Than, fill the tube with some enticing treats, making sure to accommodate your pet’s preferences and dietary restrictions. A variety of treat sizes and textures will increase the challenge and pique your pup’s interest. Once filled, seal the other end of the tube, and your homemade food puzzle is ready for action!
Your dog will relish the challenge of extracting these tasty morsels while you enjoy watching their excitement and problem-solving abilities put to the test.
Muffin Tin + Tennis Balls
A muffin tin dog toy is an ingenious invention that stimulates your furry friend’s natural curiosity and appetite for exploration. A simple yet effective tool, the a muffin tin puzzle dog toy can keep your canine companion entertained for hours, nurturing their cognitive abilities and providing some much-needed physical activity.
The process of creating this enjoyable toy is both easy and cost-efficient, requiring nothing more than a standard, empty muffin tin, a few tennis balls, and a handful of your dog’s favorite treats. By scattering the treats within the individual cups of the tin and strategically placing the tennis balls on top to cover them, you create a tantalizing puzzle that challenges your dog to use their sense of smell, problem-solving skills, and dexterity to retrieve the hidden treasures.
This interactive and rewarding activity not only stimulates your pet’s brain but also strengthens the bond between both you and your furry friend by using new tricks and invoking a playful atmosphere of collaborative problem-solving. So, roll up your sleeves and delight in the charming sight of your dog’s satisfaction and excitement as you embark on this delightful and wholesome craft.
DIY Lick Mat
A lick mat is more than just a fun and engaging toy for your beloved furry friend; it also provides mental stimulation, relieves anxiety and can even aid in digestion. Making your own lick mat is both simple and cost-effective, allowing you to customize it specifically for your dog’s preferences.
Start by purchasing a silicone baking mat and non-toxic, food-grade silicone. Create various patterns or designs on the mat by applying the silicone in lines or swirls, making sure to leave enough space between each for your dog’s tongue to navigate. Allow the silicone to fully cure for at least 24 hours, ensuring that it is safe for your dog’s nose to use.
Once the mat is ready, spread soft treats, like peanut butter or yogurt, across the textured surface, triggering your dog’s natural instinct to lick, explore and savor every last bit. Your dog’s new lick mat will not only offer much-needed mental and physical stimulation but also help create a bonding experience that both your dog loves both of you will cherish.
Rolled Up Treat Burrito Towel
One of the best DIY Dog Enrichment Activities is creating a rolled-up treat from used toilet paper rolls and towel rolls for your beloved canine companion is not only a fun and engaging activity, but it also provides an excellent opportunity to mentally stimulate and challenge your pet. It provides a great bonding opportunity as well.
To fashion this simple yet tantalizing toy, start by selecting a clean towel of appropriate size and place your dog’s favorite treats or kibble inside, evenly distributed across the fabric. With precision, begin rolling the towel, making sure that the treats remain securely in place. Once the towel is completely rolled, twist the ends tightly to ensure that the treats remain hidden and safely ensconced within the roll.
This delightful and interactive treat dispenser will undoubtedly pique your dog’s interest and encourage them to use their natural foraging instincts to their heart’s content, leading to hours of amusement and delicious reward.
Cardboard Boxes and Packing Paper
Another great way to get dogs interested is to participate in scent games. This activity can help you relax a little. It will help you put all these boxes from recent deliveries in use and recycle — and make them into enrichment boxes!
The unique texture and sound of these packaging papers makes for a great socializing environment for puppies. It can even be as simple as dumping some kibble or food in the package and packing paper that’s bundled in.
Bonus – Teach Them To Help You Clean Up
After the cardboard box has been removed and toys scattered throughout your pet, continue your pet’s involvement in cleanup. Some dogs really like putting things in the bin so they can learn to do them. It will help to show your pride in your work and be particularly pleased and confident in your work!
In addition to the enrichment ideas, games, and activities above, below are some other easy activities to keep you dog engaged and happy!
Create a Dig Area for Your Dog
Creating a dig pit for your beloved canine companion can be an exciting and rewarding endeavor, providing a designated area for them to satisfy their natural instincts while protecting your garden or yard.
To construct an enticing dig pit, start by selecting a suitable spot in your outdoor space; preferably in a shaded area to prevent overheating. Ensure the chosen area is free from any hazardous materials or plants that may be harmful to your dog. Once the location is finalized, consider the size and depth of the pit appropriate for your dog’s breed, allowing adequate space for enjoyment and exploration without the risk of injury.
Use a combination of sand and soil to create a texture that will encourage digging and be of comfort to your dog’s paws. Finally, to make the dig pit irresistible, bury engaging toys and reward them with praise and treats when they use their newfound space, positively reinforcing their exploration and promoting hours of healthy, supervised.
See an example here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXG-Pdr3RoI
Tug-of-war is a fun game that dogs love to play. To play tug-of-war with your dog, simply take a rope or toy and let them grab one end while you hold onto the other end. Then, start tugging back and forth! Be sure to praise your dog when they win so they know they’ve done something good.
Have a Picnic in the Park
Picnics are not just for humans! Dogs love picnics too! To have a picnic with your pooch, simply pack up some of their favorite foods and head to the park. Let them munch on their goodies while you enjoy some quality time together in nature.
Go for a Hike
Hiking is another great activity to do with your four-legged friend. Not only will they get some physical exercise and mental exercise, but they’ll also get to explore new sights and smells along the way! Be sure to bring plenty of water for both of you and take breaks often so everyone can rest as needed
Go for a Drive
Go for a drive with your dog! This is a great way to explore new places while keeping your pup safe and comfortable in the car. Just be sure not to leave them unattended in the car, as it can get very hot or cold very quickly depending on the weather conditions.
Visit Furlyfe’s Explore Page to find parks, beaches, hikes, and other dog specific ideas in your area. Happy exploring! 🙂
In conclusion, keeping your dog entertained doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. With just a few household items and some creativity, you can keep your four-legged friend happy, healthy, and engaged for hours! From scavenger hunts to swimming trips, there are plenty of ways to make sure your pup never gets bored. So get out there and enjoy some quality time with your furry best friend!