Enrichment and engagement games are a great way to exercise your dog’s brain, build on your bond and can be played anywhere, including your house or garden. They are fun all year round but are especially useful in the summer when it’s too hot to go for walks. There are all sorts of enrichment toys that you can buy your dog, but here at Coast and Country Canines we’ve put together 8 ideas of DIY games that you can make yourself with items you already have at home. You can fill these with treats like kibble, apple pieces, carrot slices or best of all – a mixture (we’ll call them all treats here). Dogs should always be supervised when playing these games and often enjoy you joining in with them and encouraging them. See how many you can make and play with your dog, and don’t forget to share some photos with us on Instagram or Facebook!
Toilet roll box
This is a really simple game to make and will involve you saving up your empty toilet roll tubes. Stack the tubes on end into a small cardboard box or plastic tub, placing them quite snugly but not too tight. Scatter some treats into the upright tubes and let your dog enjoy figuring out how to take the tubes out to get to the treats.
Another simple game and you can tailor it to your dog depending on how many balls you have and how difficult your dog likes games to be. Place treats into the dips of a muffin tray or bun tin and place a ball on top of each. You don’t have to fill all the dips if you don’t have enough balls or to keep it a bit easy at the start. Once your dog has figured it out make it harder by only putting treats under some of the balls so your dog has to really use his nose.
This is a really simple treat dispenser toy for your dog with the added fun that it makes crinkly noises! Take any empty bottle – you can use a water bottle, squash bottle or something similar. Cut a couple of holes in various places on the bottle that are a bit bigger than the treats you plan to use (you can use sandpaper to make sure there are no sharp edges). Put the treats in the bottle, do the lid up tightly and let your dog have fun getting the treats out.
Wrapped water bottle
Prepare a bottle dispenser as described above (you can leave the lid off for this one). Wrap this in an old t-shirt, towel or even a sock. If you think this will be too easy for your dog you can loosely tie each end with a strip of fabric (this is where an old t-shirt works well as you can use pieces of it as the ties).
This is a great game because you can alter the difficulty level. Lay a towel out flat and place a few treats along the short end, then roll that over a couple of times. Place another couple of treats and roll again. Repeat this until the towel is completely rolled up.
If your dog finds that too easy there is a slightly different way you can do this game. Place the treats along the long end instead and follow the process until you have rolled up the towel, now tie a loose knot in it. Supervise to make sure your dog isn’t just chewing the towel and encourage them to work out how to get those treats.
This game takes a little longer to make but is great fun for your dog so it’s very worth it. Take an empty bottle and cut a small hole either side near the top of the bottle. You can use a single bottle or several – it’s up to you. Put some treats inside the bottle and thread some string through the holes. Tie each end of the string to something steady (dining chairs work well), making sure that the string is tight. There is a sturdier version for people that are handy with woodwork and involves making a frame with a base, sides and a thin pole through the bottle holes. Your dog needs to knock and swing the bottles so they go upside down and treats fall out. This is a lovely game to play together.
This is a great game and you can make it as simple or as complicated as you like. Take a cardboard box or plastic storage tub that’s a suitable size for your dog (they need to be able to reach the bottom). Half-fill the box with things like toys, empty toilet roll tubes, scrunched up newspaper, pieces of material (or a towel), smaller boxes and anything else you can think of. Throw in some treats and enjoy watching your dog forage.
Toilet roll tube
This game is great because it doesn’t take much at all to make – you’re basically recycling! Fold over one end of an empty toilet roll tube, place treats inside and then fold over the other end. That’s it – it’s ready! You can give your dog just one, or you can make several.