Our Explorer Evie from @gundog_squad has pulled together some of her favourite homemade enrichment games for dogs.
Our furry pals get excited and happy over just about everything, seeing you when you’ve only stepped outside for five minutes, their food, your food and the squirrel at the park to name but a few. They’re filled with happiness and play a big part of keeping us healthy. In return for that, we need to make sure that they are healthy, both physically and mentally!
Why Enrichment Games?
Just like us humans, dogs need exercise and enrichment to stay healthy both mentally and physically. They need enrichment to prevent boredom, build a closer bond between you and stimulate the senses.
A good way to ensure your dog’s mental health is good is enrichment games for your dogs! Enrichment games come in all shapes and sizes and can range from very cheap to make to the more expensive store bought.
Here I will go through a couple of different enrichment games to create at home and play with your pooches. Each of these games have been tried and tested by us!
Seven Homemade Enrichment Games
A simple homemade enrichment game can be created at home with toys, recyclables and your dog’s favourite treats. There’s no cost involved which is perfect if you want something quick to entertain!
Hide and Treat
Grab three bowls, ( I usually use the dog’s food and water bowls) and place a toy or treat underneath a bowl. Move them around much like a magician would. Once satisfied allow the dog to find the toy or treat. Hiding it from them means that it is more of a challenge for them, and they have to use their brain and nose to find it. This game really helps to focus the dog and provides a lot of enrichment!
If you’re feeling ambitious, keep the dog in a different room when hiding the item and then let them in to find it. This is pretty hard for the dog, but it provides a huge amount of enrichment. Once they have found the item they feel a great amount of satisfaction!
Spin the Bottle
Another great game is a ‘spin the bottle’ enrichment game. This can be homemade and made with very little cost. All you need is three or more plastic bottles, take the tops off and pop a few treats in each.
Cut two holes in the bottle, opposite each other and about two thirds up. Attach the bottles to a wooden frame or thread through some string. If using string, tie each side to something secure e.g. a draw, radiator.
Sometimes dogs can need a bit of encouragement but eventually, they will see that they have to spin the bottles to get the treats out. This is an excellent enrichment game and can provide hours of fun!
Dogs can have plenty of fun with socks. One of the things we love doing is hiding one of your dogs favourite toys inside an old sock along with some treats. They’ll spend ages trying to pull it out proving easy entertainment.
Cardboard Box Game
For a very simple enrichment game you can place a toy or treat into a cardboard box. Close the box up, then place the box on the floor for your dog to play with. They will quickly work out that the thing they really want is inside the box!
This game really helps to get them focussed. Although it may create a whole load of shredded cardboard, it is super fun for your pooch and they will have hours of fun!
All you need for this one is toilet roll tubes and a Tupperware box. Place some empty toilet roll tubes upright in a tupperware box with some treats inside. Once you’ve done that, let your dog pull the toilet roll tubes out to get to the treats!
This is a nice quick game you can play again and again.
Muffin Tray Game
We love this game! Get a 6-12 muffin tray (the tray you bake cupcakes in).
Get a number of tennis balls to cover up some or all of the muffin holes.
Place a treat in each hole of the muffin tin and then place a tennis ball on top of the treat.
If your dog loves tennis balls they’ll go even crazier for this. If not, your dog will still enjoy trying to get the treats out from underneath.
This one was suggested to us by Caroline at Barket Place. It’s so much fun! All you have to do is grate some cheese (which is a favourite treat for so many pooches). Once grated throw it into the garden and watch your dogs go nuts trying to sniff it out. This provides plenty of enrichment while allowing them to stretch their senses that little bit further.
Although we are not trained professionals, we have got plenty of experience and all of these enrichment games work wonders for dogs and helps to stop boredom and keeps their brain healthy! Without stimulation, dogs can become bored, anxious and distressed! By just giving your dog one or two of these enrichment games you can help to promote their mental health!
Please ensure that your dogs are supervised when using any of the above enrichment games!
Do You Have Any Favourite Homemade Games?
Has your dog played any of these brain and enrichment games? Do you have any new games to share? Let us know in the comments below!
I love the muffin tin game! Also my humans save the card rolls from kitchen roll/ loo roll and fill it with treats before folding them into little parcels. Also putting some tasty treats into an empty cardboard egg box before closing it. I have lots of fun shredding the cardboard to get to the tasty treats!
Some great enrichment ideas here! Enrichment is so important for dogs
I love these ideas ? They sound so fun and there’s some I’ve never thought of before ?
I used to play, “Sock and Bone,” with my dogs. Puppies especially, but also new rescues. I usually had a long boot sock. I tied a know at the toe, then turned it inside out, and used it for tug-of-war. I would use that in one hand, and a rawhide treat in the other. Any two favorite toys could be substituted.
I knelt on the floor, and started with “Sock.” I moved it in the largest arc possible, saying, “Sock! Sock! Sock!” The dog chased the sock. Then, I introduced the bone. ” Bone! Bone! Bone! Bone! Bone!” Repeat until tired.