Playtime with your dog doesn’t always mean that you have to leave the house. In fact, today more dog owners are finding safe and creative ways to entertain their pups indoors. Not only can this help you save money on gas, but you can cut costs on new toys as well by creating DIY puzzles. Creating fun DIY puzzles using everyday household supplies and trinkets can be surprisingly rewarding.
Dogs are super smart, and their canine problem-solving skills will definitely hop into action once you give them some interesting puzzles to solve — especially if there are treats involved. And if you’re not an avid DIYer, don’t worry, there are several toys that you can make in less than 10 minutes using only a few everyday household items. So, here are a few easy DIY puzzles that you can use to add to your pup’s toy collection.
The 6 DIY Dog Puzzles
1. The Stuffed Roller Ball
The stuffed roller ball puzzle is a DIY classic. To get started, you simply need a roller dog toy which you can find in your local pet store, though it works best with the JW HOL EE Roller–you can purchase it online for about $10. This soft toy ball comes in various sizes and has stretchy rubber holes that make it easy to fill with your dog’s favorite treats.
You can also tie fleece or rubber strips to the side of the ball to make it more interesting and challenging for the dog. For example, if you have a super active pup, you may also want to roll the treats in multiple layers inside the fleece to give the dog a bit of an extra workout.
2. Muffin Tin Shell Game
This classic doggie puzzle is one that your pup will enjoy for days to come. To create it, take a few tennis balls and set them inside the slots of a muffin tin. You’ll typically need about 8 to 12, depending on the size of the tin. Before placing the balls in the tin, place small treats in a few of the tin slots.
Next, set the tin in front of your dog and watch it sniff away trying to find the exact location of the treats. The dog will have to sniff its way around the tin and remove the tennis balls to get to the treats beneath. This doggie version of hide-and-seek is sure to keep your dog entertained for several minutes at a time.
3. Toilet Tube Dispensers (with Treats)
Don’t throw those toilet paper tubes away just yet! Instead, use them to give your puppy a bit of entertainment on those rainy days. This fun DIY dog puzzle can be made in about 5 minutes. Simply empty your toilet paper roll (or paper towel rolls) and stuff them with your dog’s go-to treat. If you don’t have any dog treats on deck, just use a bit of cream cheese and peanut butter mixed with sweet potatoes or carrots.
The dog will have to make their way to the inside of the tube by licking around it and rolling it around on the floor. If you want the toy to last longer, toss it in the freezer before giving it to your pup. To be on the safe side, make sure to discard any pieces of the cardboard to ensure that the dog doesn’t eat any of it as it falls off.
4. Tea Towel Snuffle Mat
Here is another classic doggie puzzle that is easy to make and guaranteed to be loads of fun for your pup. You can buy a tea towel online or at your local pet store for around $8. These mats have tons of pockets, straps, and flaps that dogs love to rip apart and chew on. You can also create your own mat by purchasing a simple plastic mat (such as a rubber sink mat) and punching a few holes in it.
Next, place a few treats inside the mat and roll it up. And if you want to get extra creative, add additional straps, pockets, and pieces to the mat. Be sure to use sturdy fabrics that are thick and wide enough to avoid choking hazards.
It’s best if the straps are at least six to nine inches long and two to three inches wide. To make the puzzle, hide a few snacks in the corners of the flaps or in the center of the mat. Your dog is sure to have a grand time sniffing through the mat to retrieve them.
5. Doggie Ball Pit
The ball pit is another puppy classic that helps your dog train their sense of smell. This is also especially useful for young pups that are still learning new smells and are curious about their surroundings. To create this puzzle, fill a small kiddie pool or plastic bin (such as those used for storage or clothes) and fill it with a ton of plastic balls.
Make sure that the balls are at least the size of tennis balls (close to three inches in diameter) to avoid choking hazards. Next, be sure to sprinkle your pup’s favorite treats throughout the tub to entice the dog to enter the tub. Then, simply sit back and watch as your dog dives headfirst into the pit trying to find the treat while splashing all of the balls around. Not only is this mentally stimulating for the dog, but it’s guaranteed to give it a great workout.
6. Doggie Busy Box
Also known as a “destruction box”, this DIY doggie puzzle is a classic that is sure to keep your dog entertained and is easy to make. To make the busy box, take a small or medium-sized cardboard box (such as a package box, cereal, or moving box) and fill it with your pup’s go-to toys. This can include play balls, mats, stuffed toys, and anything else lying around their play area.
Next, sprinkle treats throughout the box (particularly on the bottom) and watch as your dog tears it apart trying to sniff out the location of the treat. There are so many ways to make this puzzle more interesting, as you can use long boxes or include toys that have small pockets and containers to hide treats within (such as yogurt tubs and plastic jars).
As you can see, there are quite a few DIY puzzles that you can create to keep your dog amused during the day or at night when it may feel a bit restless. Remember, dogs need exercise just as much as we humans do. So, if you’re looking for a fun and inexpensive way to help your dog burn off a few of those treats, one of these DIY puzzles can help do just that.
Featured Image Credit: Lenti Hill, Shutterstock