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10 June 2016


5 DIY Dog Puzzles: Homemade Food Puzzles Your Dog Will Love

Five games you can make at home to help your dog learn problem-solving.

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Dog food puzzles are a great way to mentally stimulate your dog, while preventing bad behavior. The best part? You can make some great puzzles at home with items you probably have lying around the house!

What’s a Dog Food Puzzle?

Puzzles for dogs are similar to puzzles for humans. The only difference? While you might be motivated by the satisfaction of solving the puzzle on its own, your dog is rewarded with a treat for his efforts. Typically, a treat is hidden or obstructed in some way in the interactive toy and your dog solves the puzzle by figuring out how to access the treat.

What’s the Purpose of a Dog Puzzle?

If your dog is showing signs of boredom (e.g., chewing on your stuff, digging holes, or counter surfing), a puzzle can help. Dog food puzzles help dogs to curb boredom by using mental energy in constructive (rather than destructive) ways. Because bored, hyperactive dogs often have difficulty responding to training, a dog puzzle can be a great device to use before a training session. Read more about how to train your dog with food here. Most importantly, food puzzles are just plain fun for dogs and they can help you and your pup bond.

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5 Best Homemade Dog Food Puzzles

We found five simple homemade dog food puzzles you can put together in minutes!

1. The One with a Muffin Tin

DIY fod puzzles, muffin tin
Yes Missy

That muffin tin you haven’t used since the great cupcake revolution of 2005? Place a few pieces of food or treats in the cups, then top them with tennis balls. When your dog successfully removes the ball, there’s a tasty reward!

2. The One with a Box in a Box in a Box

DIY food puzzles, boxes
My Westie Vash

Time to put all those Amazon boxes in your recycling bin to good use. Pick three boxes that can nest inside each other. Place a favorite treat inside the smallest one, then fold the top closed and place it top-down inside the middle box. Repeat the process, placing the middle box inside the biggest box. Watch your dog work his way to the treat like a canine version of Russian nesting dolls.

3. The One with a Spliced Tennis Ball

DIY food puzzles, tennis ball

The tennis ball that you thought had been fetched to death can take on a second life: Use a box cutter or utility knife to cut a smile-shaped arc that follows the white line. Squeeze the sides of the ball to open it up, pop a treat or two inside, then toss it to your dog for a challenge she will love to hate and hate to love.

4. The One with a Milk Jug

DIY food puzzles, milk jug

Rinse out and dry an empty milk jug, then cut a hole or two on each side of the jug, just a little bit bigger than a piece of kibble or a training treat. Place a generous handful of food or treats inside, cap it and give it to the dog. As she plays, turning and shaking it, treats will pop out.

5. The One with a Toilet Paper Roll

DIY food puzzles, toilet paper roll

Using the last square of toilet paper has never led to such happiness. Pop a treat inside an empty roll, then fold the ends in on each other. Boom, you’ve got a dog puzzle. Toss it to your dog and watch her work her way to the treat inside.

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