Dog Enrichment Food Puzzles
Why is dog enrichment important?
Using daily meals as part of your dog's enrichment not only keeps your dog busy but it also satisfies them mentally as well. We’ve done some research and found 10 quick and simple dog enrichment food puzzles you can put together that will challenge and stimulate their brains.
Typically when you feed from a bowl, the food and mealtime experience is over in less than a minute. Your dog is, by nature, an “opportunistic scavenger” - in other words, a gatherer that eats what they find and will hunt if the opportunity presents itself. This means that your dog derives great satisfaction from working for their food.
So why not add more enrichment by feeding your dog (or your pet sitting guest dog) in a different, more creative way? As an added benefit, these enrichment activities can also help your dog build confidence by teaching them to overcome obstacles.
Top 10 dog enrichment food puzzles
The box game
Scatter a collection of different sized boxes in an open area and hide your dog’s food amongst the boxes. For dog enrichment beginners, place the food where it is easy for the dog to see and reach (like at the top of the box). As your dog gets more advanced, you can start hiding the food inside the boxes and piling boxes on top of each other.
The dog enrichment ball pit
Fill a kid sized pool with plastic balls, empty plastic drink bottles or recycled paper scrunched into a ball. Then sprinkle their food inside, mix it all up and let your dog have a go!
Toilet roll challenge
Recycle your toilet paper or paper towel rolls for this challenge. Fold one side inwards and fill the roll with their food. Use as many rolls as you’d like. Then toss them all in a bigger box for your dog.
All rolled up
Scatter your dog’s meal all across a mat. Then roll up the mat for a quick dog enrichment activity! Your dog will learn to use their nose and pews to unroll the mat while they eat.
(image source: agoodfeeling_inco)
Make your own snuffle mat
It’s great fun to hide dog biscuits in a fluffy fleece mat. Although you can buy a snuffle mat, you can also easily make one yourself. This is a great puzzle that does not produce any mess and can easily be carried around with you. At the same time it’s just as rewarding for your dog.
“Slow feeder” food bowl
Fortunately, you can now purchase feeding bowls with a variety of shapes and maze-like ridges in them to prevent your dog from gobbling everything up at once. Or you can also make your own slow feeder bowl by placing balls or scrunched up paper inside a large bowl for your dog to eat around.
A food ball makes for a fun game, during which your dog will have to work hard physically and mentally for their “prey”! Hide their biscuits into a food ball or Kong and leave it with your dog at feeding time - they will then have to figure out how to reach them or knock them out of the toy. Want to challenge your dog more? Use something wet inside and freeze it. This enriching experience is a great way to keep your dog very busy for a while!
Puzzle in a bottle
Get a long strip of fabric and stuff it into a plastic bottle. Leave the end sticking out. Then put some dry food or treats inside the bottle and shake it up so it gets mixed into the fabric. Make sure to remove any loose plastic rings from the bottle before giving it to your dog.
(image source: gonedogmad.com)
Muffin tin dog enrichment
Fill the cavities of a muffin tin with food. Then cover each cavity with a tennis ball and let your god have a go at figuring out how to get to their food.
(image source: sheknows.com)
Food package dog enrichment game
Grab some newspaper and wrap a portion of your dog’s meal. Then place it on another layer of newspaper, add some more food and wrap again. Keep adding layers until you have wrapped up their whole meal. There is no need to use tape. Then give it to your dog and watch them rip into it like an excited child on Christmas morning!