Hey wait! Before you throw that empty Amazon box into the recycle bin, imagine your dog being occupied for hours, worn out and happy after a long afternoon of playing. This doesn’t require pricy toys or a robotic fetcher, and it puts old materials to practical use.
With a few simple household materials, you can create games for your dog that engage their minds and allow them to play for a long time while you sit back and enjoy the work you’ve done.
The main thing you will need: boxes!
We used Ento Bento treats to entice Brecken during these activities. He went nuts for them!
1. The Hansel and Gretel
Leaving a trail of treats will entice your dog to navigate a maze of dark corners, led only by their sense of smell. By the end, your dog’s sense of smell will have improved enough for them to find the treats as they get increasingly further away.
- Grab your tape. You will have to connect the boxes to keep the tunnel from coming apart. Connect the boxes so they form an open tunnel that your dog can move around in. It’s also helpful to fold in the flaps on one side to stabilize your tunnel.
- Once the tunnel is created, sprinkle treats throughout so your dog can sniff out where their reward is.
- As your pup gets better and better at navigating the maze, increase the challenge by spreading the treats out farther.
- For the final challenge: Place all treats at the very end of the tunnel. See how your pup navigates their way through led only by their nose. A smart snout, indeed!
As the name suggests, this game is as easy as flipping over some boxes! Simple in essence, it creates a stimulating mental activity for dogs that makes them work for their rewards.
1. First, hide a handful of treats under a smallish box. Shoe boxes or boxes 1′ and under are ideal. Your dog will have to learn how to flip the box over in order to get their food. Your pup is then rewarded when they get to eat their yummy treat!
2. Once your dog masters the first round, spread three or four boxes of multiple sizes around an open space. Hide food under only one of the boxes, and watch your pup use their smelling instincts to determine which box the food is hidden under.
In a perfect world, our dogs could dig up our lawns to their heart’s content and they would magically replenish themselves. While this is not feasible, you can create similar stimulation super easily!
1. Put some yummy treats at the bottom of a box. The more pungent, the better.
2. Fill the box in with a layer of either old shirts, towels, blankets, or anything else you don’t mind getting a little slobbery.
3. Stuff some more treats and more towels until the box is filled. Watch as your dog searches through the box for their reward!