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10 Ways To Enrich Your Dog's Playtime

Even the laziest couch potato dog gets bored from time to time and, as all good dog trainers worth their salt know, a tired dog is a good dog.

Dogs have a natural tendency to scavenge for food, rip things up, and solve problems. If their owners do not give them an outlet, then they’ll make their own fun. For example, chewing up their human’s favorite pair of running sneakers or ripping the stuffing out of the pillows on the couch.

In order to head off any bad behavior, it’s important that dog owners exercise their pet’s mind and body. Obedience training is a good outlet, but that gets boring for a pooch after a while and it’s a good idea to mix it up with some toys or food puzzles.

There are plenty of expensive toys and food puzzles owners can purchase for their beloved furry friends both in pet stores and online, but why spend all that money when it’s easy to make items that will provide hours of enrichment for a dog?

Plus, making the toys such as the ones seen below will help dog owners save money and go a long way in terms of recycling. For example, instead of chucking out the toilet paper rolls, owners can now use them as an inexpensive treat-dispensing toy. Our furry friends and planet Earth will definitely be grateful to thrifty owners in the long run!

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9 Time To Snuffle For Some Treats

Snuffle mats can be purchased online or pet owners can make their own by purchasing a rubber sink mat and some fleece. The Bark says to cut the fleece up into strips before pushing one piece through the first and second hole of the first row and then knotting it. Repeat the process by putting another strip of fleece into the second and third holes until every row in the sink mat is done.

The purpose of a snuffle mat is to hide treats or kibble amongst the fleece so that pups will have to sniff out their food. Nosework is a great way to keep a furry friend entertained during inclement weather or to keep a young puppy occupied.

8 Ball Pit Time Y'All

According to Canine Enrichment, creating a ball pit for dogs to romp around in is as easy as one, two, three. All that is required is a plastic baby pool, which can be purchased online or at any hardware store in the area and to order several bags of the plastic balls online.

Once the ball pit is assembled, dog owners can hide a wide variety of things to keep their dogs’ brains engaged. Some owners like to hide treats or dry kibble while others prefer to hide a favorite toy or even a prized chew like a knucklebone or a pig’s ear for their dogs to search for in the pit.

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6 Time For Some High-Flying Fun

For owners that work long hours and don’t have time to take their furry friend to the dog park, a flirt pole is a fantastic toy that will help keep your pup in shape and works their prey drive.

To build one, Notes From A Dog Walker writes that all you have to do is simply purchase a four to six-foot-long piece of PVC pipe, 10 to 15 feet of rope and a favorite toy. Tie the rope into a knot at either end of the pipe and tie the rope around the toy to create the lure.

You can use it like a giant cat toy and whirl it around for them to chase or even practice obedience with it. For example, making your dog sit and stay before they are allowed to chase it.

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5 Dig Your Heart Out

Dogs love to dig, but it can be annoying and frustrating for many owners when Fido decides to ruin their carefully planned flower garden. Instead of yelling at them, why not build a sandbox so that they can dig to their heart’s content to look for a favorite toy or some tasty treats and leave your garden alone?

The Whole Dog Journal writes that you can purchase a plastic baby pool and some sand meant for a child’s sandbox. Some owners have even cut corners by purchasing a sandbox meant for children, but used it for their dogs. Either option is good, just make sure to keep the sand damp so that it is more inviting for our furry friends.

4 Hide And Find The Toy

On rainy days, Canine Enrichment points out that owners can play an easy game that will keep their pupper entertained for a good hour or two by hiding their favorite toy and having their pet use their nose to figure out where it is hidden.

To begin, hide it in an easy place—like under a pillow and give the command “Find it!” When your dog does inevitably sniff out the toy and grab it triumphantly, reward with a click from a clicker and a treat or simply say “Yes!” in a happy voice before rewarding them with a yummy treat. As they get better with the game, make the hiding places more difficult to find.

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2 Forage For Food

Canine Principles urges owners that feed their dog dry kibble to ditch the bowls and instead scatter feed their pets in order to work their brains.

Since dogs are descended from scavenging village dogs and love to solve problems, forcing them to use their noses to sniff out their meals will keep them from going stir-crazy with boredom and it will also help to keep them from overeating and gaining weight too.

During inclement weather or if you live in an apartment, you can simply scatter their kibble all over the floor or the rug, but if you have access to a backyard or a lawn, you can increase the difficulty by hiding the food in the grass.

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1 Cardboard Is A Great Toy

A Good Feeling Dog Training notes that instead of owners merely tossing away paper towel or toilet paper rolls, they should save them in order to make a cheap treat dispensing toy for their doggies.

In order to make this toy, simply grab a handful of treats or kibble and put it inside of the rolls. After they’re packed in, simply fold the ends of the rolls and give it to your dog. Forcing them to rip up the cardboard in order to get the treat will satisfy their urge to chew and destroy something.

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Sources: A Good Feeling Dog Training, The Bark, Canine Principles, Whole Dog Journal, Wide Open Pets, Notes From A Dog Walker, Colin In Chicago, Canine Enrichment, Instagram

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