Updated: Mar 5, 2021
Physical exercise is great and an important part in your dog's life. But that is only half of the equation. Your pup is a very intelligent creature. They need both mental stimulation AND physical exercise to keep them healthy.
If your dog is starting to dig up the yard and going through the trash, it is likely that your pup is bored and is trying to find something to pass time. Here are a few signs to look out for:
Digging up yard
There are many fun and effective ways to stimulate your dog's brain. Here are some of my favourite do-it-yourself puzzles that you can make for your furry four-legged best friend. When you're done playing fetch, here are some clever ways to repurpose those old toys and make them fun again!
The Cupcake Tin Game
Not only is this an inexpensive and easy game for your pup, it is also a unique challenge for them!
Hide the treats in the cupcake tin and cover it with tennis ball. Encourage your pup to investigate it. The goal of the game is to encourage your dog to sniff for the treats and try to dislodge the tennis ball so he can get the treat. When he finds the treat, reward him!
What you'll need:
Small high value treats (The smellier the better! Could also use cooked chicken or even string cheese)
Tennis Balls (You'll need 1 tennis ball for each cupcake tin - 6 for a 6 Cupcake Tin & 12 for a12 Cupcake Tin)
If you have a toy or small breed dog, look for a mini-cupcake tin and use pingpong balls instead.
How to Play:
Step 1: Place treats into cupcake tin
Step 2: Place a tennis ball on top of the treat
Step 3: Set the prepared cupcake tin on the floor and encourage your dog to check it out!
Step 4: Encourage your dog to sniff for treats.
Step 5: REWARD your pup when they've found the treats!
One of the mental challenges of this game is for the dog to remember where he’s found treats and where he hasn’t. This is especially true if he rolls the tennis balls from one hole to another. Don’t make it too easy by lifting the balls out yourself; let your dog figure it out.
If your dog has mastered this, you can make it more challenging by placing the tennis ball back in the empty muffin tin after they've found the treat!
Tennis Ball Treat Dispenser
This DIY puzzle is so simple its as easy as ABC! Up-cycle your old tennis ball and make it into a treat dispenser. Simply just cut open a ball and stuff your pups favourite treat in it.
What you'll need:
Your favourite cutting tool (scissors or knife)
Treats or biscuits
Step 1: Gather all your materials
Step 2: Make the cuts. There are many ways to make this toy harder or easier. Making a cut along the seam leaves a flap that can be tucked in for added difficulty.Making a straight cut can lead to more crushed treats instead of "released" treats.
Step 3: Load and go!
Feeling a little crafty? Try this little DIY snuffle mat!
The snuffle mat works on dogs, cats and many other pets. The snuffle mat slows down how quick dog eats. It encourages them to forage for their food rather than rapidly eat it from a bowl. The strips of fabric on the snuffle mat perfectly hide away little pieces of biscuits that your pet then sniffs out.
What you'll need:
Rubber mat (You can find this from Bunnings)
1m of Fleece (How much you need will depend on the size of your mat and the width of the strips you cut, but 1m of fleece would be enough.)
Treats (Dried liver is awesome, but use whatever treats your pup likes)
Step 1: Cut the fleece into strips about an inch to an inch and a half wide by six to seven inches long.
Step 2: Loop a piece of fleece through 2 holes and tie a knot.
Step 3: Repeat this process until the whole mat is covered. Check the back to make sure you've filled up all the spaces.
Step 4: Now, scatter biscuits all over the mat and let your dog hunt for their dinner!!
Please note that your pup should not be left unsupervised. Some dogs may potentially chew of swallow the fleece strips and this could cause serious complications that could potentially lead to a need for surgery to remove the strips.