Has your dog gotten bored with his usual routine? Does he ignore his stuffed toys, or constantly nudge your nose to play? If so, he may not be getting the enrichment he needs to stay active and mentally engaged. Regular toys are fun, but most dogs need challenging games and enrichment-based toys to keep them alert (and out of trouble). 

Rather than buying a bunch of pricey new toys, it’s easy to create an array of DIY dog puzzles and games with things around the house. The team at Union Lake Pet Services is here with some fun homemade dog puzzles that will certainly please your pawed pal.

7 Paw-mazing DIY Dog Puzzles

If you are looking for something nice to do for your favorite fur friend, making him dog puzzles is a great idea. They help keep your furry one occupied and give an extra boost of mental enrichment. And, they’re cheap (or free) to make!

Here are some of our favorites.

  1. The muffin pan treat game – This simple but stimulating game only requires tennis or other balls, a muffin pan, and a treat or favorite item. Simply fill the balls in the tin pan and place an item or some kibble under one of them. Once your pet has removed the balls and found the treasured item, you can change it up with something else. Watch it in action on YouTube. 
  2. Nesting boxes – Do you have a pile of Amazon boxes in the garage? Why not put them to good use by creating “nesting” boxes with hidden treats or kibble. Simply use a variety of box sizes and place the kibble within, then let your pet sleuth out the treat by pulling them all apart.
  3. Ice cube puzzle – This is another easy way to entertain your pet (and keep them hydrated!). Put some kibble from their meal or small treats in an ice cube tray, add water, then freeze. Your pet will be entertained for as long as the cubes take to melt! Or place a bully stick into a cup of water with the end of the bully stick sticking out. Freeze and voila–Bully Popsicle!
  4. Tennis ball puzzle – Most of us have old tennis balls lying around, or ones that our dog is sick of. Now, you can renew their interest by drilling a hole just big enough to put kibble into, but not too small so that it isn’t a challenge to get out. Then give it to your pooch to work on.
  5. Old t-shirt treat puzzle – Cut up old t-shirts and stitch them together into pockets with openings just big enough to put treasures into. You can put in toys, treats, or kibble, or whatever your dog loves that can fit into the t-shirt pockets. Or cut a towel or t-shirt into 3 strips and braid. Tuck treats into the braid.
  6. Cardboard tube puzzle – Keep all of your leftover cardboard tubes, like mailing tubes, paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, etc. Twine all together and glue to a flat base, like a wood piece, flat rock, etc. Then, place the kibble or other things inside some of the tubes. This is a better option for toy and small dogs (or cats), but you can always use stronger tubing for big dogs using the same concept.
  7. Peanut butter jar puzzle – This puzzle wasn’t working well at first until the creator added holes to the sides of the jar. 

For the more industrious, there are plenty of DIY dog puzzle toys in blogs and videos. There are beginner puzzles for the less handy folks. 

Introducing Your DIY Dog Puzzles to Fido

Most of the time, we don’t ask our dogs to work for food or treats. Don’t worry if it takes your canine a bit to catch on. Once he does, he should enjoy the enrichment and the challenge of your DIY dog puzzle feeder. As an incentive, you may want to remove your dog’s food bowl while he tries to figure out his new puzzle. And some dogs will like one puzzle more than another so you may have to try more than one. 

Mental enrichment is a must for all pets. It provides mental and physical stimulation that they need for holistic health. If you would like more information on how to bring more entertainment into your pet’s life or additional DIY dog puzzle ideas, please call the friendly, knowledgeable team at ULPS