Mental and physical stimulation is very important for a healthy and happy pup.
An easy way you can achieve some mental and physical stimulation with your dog is through enrichment toys and activities. Enrichment games and toys encourage pups to express innate behaviors (i.e. chewing, jumping, running, licking, sniffing) in a positive environment — helping them to build confidence!*
Examples of Doggy Enrichment:
- Going on walks
- Playing fetch
- Puzzle toys
- Decompression hikes
- Agility training
- Learning new tricks
If you’re curious about what enrichment activities to put in your dog's routine, we’ve researched a few do-it-yourself dog toys and games you can make from the comfort of your own home. These options are great for mental stimulation, like helping your dog learn cognitive skills such as problem-solving, as well as physical stimulation for those super hyperactive pups. Not only that, but these games and toys can also help to curb your dog from destructive behaviors.*
Every game and toy should be enjoyed by your pooch under careful supervision.
Keep reading to learn more!
DIY Dog Enrichment Toys:
Destructible Treat Tubes
All you need is a cardboard toilet tube or an empty paper towel roll and a soft treat of your choice. Peanut butter is always a go-to for most dog parents. Be sure to check with your vet first about any dietary requirements your dog might have. Never let your furry friend consume any cardboard bits.
Spread the soft treat inside the tube, and watch your dog do the rest. If your pooch is up for the challenge, try folding down the ends of the tube. Your dog will have to rip into the cardboard to get the yummy treats inside. You can even try freezing the tube with the treat inside, too.
Muffin Tin Hide-&-Seek
This toy is easy-peasy. Grab a muffin tin and some tennis balls for each indent in the tin. Leave the indents of the tin uncovered first. You can fill each indent with treats or your dog’s kibble so your pet can try licking or pawing for the goodies. Once your dog has this part figured out, you can then cover the indents with the tennis balls. Your dog will have to figure out how to move the balls to get to the treats underneath.
The Kiddie Pool Ball Pit
If your dog is a sucker for tennis balls and the muffin tin game isn’t enough of a challenge, try getting a kiddie pool and filling it with tennis balls. For even more enticement, you can sprinkle Fido’s treats or kibbles on top. Your dog will spend quite some time sniffing for his food and sifting through all the tennis balls.
Tea Towel Snuffle Mats
This is a great at-home puzzle toy for your dog. You’ll need a tea towel and your dog’s preferred treats. Lay the towel flat on the floor, put the treats in the middle, and fold the towel longways over the treats. Then, to make the puzzle more of a challenge, tie the towel in a loose knot. You can even try tying several towels together in a row with treats in the middle of each one.
Backyard Agility Course
If your dog is always getting the ‘zoomies,’ an agility course might be the thing Fido needs for those endless energy bursts. Your dog will have to use a lot of mental power to figure out the bends and weaves of the course. Plus, your dog's innate desire to run, leap, and bound through the course is sure to tire out your pooch. Agility courses can also help your dog build up their confidence and impulse control.*
You can create your own DIY weave poles with bamboo garden stakes, recycled six-gallon jugs filled with sand, or old soccer cones. Make DIY jump hurdles with the handle of an old broom encased in a pool noodle (for extra doggy safety), some chairs for the foundation, and for some extra spring and bounce, a hula hoop. You can also build DIY agility tunnels with a child’s play tunnel or a few tables pushed together with a floor-length tablecloth draped over the two sides.
You’ll want to coax your dog with some of his favorite treats to get him to master the course. Try our Daily Multivitamin Chew, made with 32 healthy nutrients to help keep dogs of all ages in peak condition. If your best friend is older, try our Joint Support Chews, formulated for dogs with hip dysplasia, arthritis, and joint disease to help senior dogs stay more active.
What games or toys does your dog love the most?
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Gibeault, Stephanie, et al. “DIY Cognitive Dog Toys for When You’re Stuck at Home.” American Kennel Club, www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/do-it-yourself-cognitive-dog-toys-for-home/.
“Games to Play with Your Dog.” American Kennel Club, www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/mentally-stimulated-happy-dog/.