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6 DIY Dog Puzzles to Mentally Stimulate Your Pup (With Pictures)

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on May 28, 2024 by Dogster Team

Dog playing toy puzzle_Lenti Hill_Shutterstock

6 DIY Dog Puzzles to Mentally Stimulate Your Pup (With Pictures)

Playtime with your dog doesn’t need to involve leaving your house. Today, more dog owners are finding safe and creative ways to entertain their pups indoors. Not only can this help you save money on gas, but you can also cut costs on new toys by creating DIY puzzles. Constructing fun DIY puzzles using everyday household supplies and trinkets can be surprisingly rewarding.

Dogs are intelligent, and their canine problem-solving skills will hop into action once you give them interesting puzzles to solve, especially if there are treats involved. If you’re not an avid DIYer, don’t worry, there are several toys that you can make in less than 10 minutes using a few everyday household items. So, here are a few easy DIY puzzles you can use to add to your pup’s toy collection.

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The 6 DIY Dog Puzzles

1. The Stuffed Roller Ball

DIY Dog Puzzle
Image By: Leopolds-Crate

The stuffed roller ball puzzle is a DIY classic. To get started, you simply need a roller dog toy you can find in your local pet store, though it works best with the JW HOL EE Roller. This soft toy ball comes in various sizes and has stretchy rubber holes that make it easy to fill with your dog’s favorite treats.

You can also tie fleece or rubber strips to the side of the ball to make it more interesting and challenging for the dog. For example, if you have an active pup, you may also want to roll the treats in multiple layers inside the fleece to give the dog an extra workout.

2. Muffin Tin Shell Game

DIY Dog Puzzle
Image By: Yes Missy

This classic doggie puzzle is sure to please your pup. To assemble it, take a few tennis balls and set them inside the slots of a muffin tin. You’ll typically need about 8 to 12, depending on the size of the tin. Before placing the balls in the tin, place small treats in a few of the slots.

Next, set the tin in front of your dog and watch them sniff away to find the exact location of the treats. They have to remove the tennis balls to get to the treats beneath. This doggie version of hide-and-seek will keep your dog entertained for several minutes.

3. Toilet Tube Dispensers (with Treats)

Don’t throw your toilet paper tubes away just yet! Instead, use them to give your puppy a bit of entertainment on rainy days. This fun DIY dog puzzle can be made in about 5 minutes. Simply empty your toilet paper rolls and stuff them with your dog’s go-to treat. If you don’t have dog treats, you can add peanut butter or kibble.

The dog will have to make their way to the inside of the tube by licking around it and rolling it around on the floor. If you want the toy to last longer, toss it in the freezer before giving it to your pup. To be on the safe side, discard any pieces of the cardboard to ensure that the dog doesn’t eat any of it as it falls off.

4. Tea Towel Snuffle Mat

DIY Dog Puzzle
Image By: Hound Hugger DIY

Here is another classic doggie puzzle that is easy to make and guaranteed to be fun for your pup. You can buy a tea towel online or at your local pet store for around $8. These mats have several pockets, straps, and flaps that dogs love to rip apart and chew on. You can also create your own mat by purchasing a simple plastic mat (such as a rubber sink mat) and punching a few holes in it.

Next, place a few treats inside the mat and roll it up. If you want to get creative, add straps, pockets, and pieces to the mat. Be sure to use sturdy fabrics that are thick and wide enough to avoid choking hazards.

It’s best if the straps are at least 6 to 9 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide. To make the puzzle, hide a few snacks in the corners of the flaps or the center of the mat. Your dog will surely have a grand time sniffing through the mat to retrieve them.

5. Doggie Ball Pit

DIY Dog Puzzle
Image By: Momma Told Me

The ball pit is another puppy classic that helps your dog train their sense of smell. It is especially useful for young pups who are still learning new smells and are curious about their surroundings. To create this puzzle, fill a small kiddie pool or plastic bin with several plastic balls.

Ensure that the balls are at least the size of tennis balls (close to 3 inches in diameter) to avoid choking hazards. Next, be sure to sprinkle your pup’s favorite treats throughout the tub to entice the dog to enter. Then, sit back and watch as your dog dives headfirst into the pit, trying to find the treat while splashing all of the balls around. Not only is this mentally stimulating for the dog, but it’s guaranteed to give them a great workout.

6. Doggie Busy Box

DIY Dog Puzzle
Image By: Gone Dog Mad

Also known as a “destruction box,” this DIY doggie puzzle is a classic that will keep your dog entertained and is easy to make. To make the busy box, take a small or medium-sized cardboard box (such as a package box, cereal, or moving box) and fill it with your pup’s go-to toys. They can include play balls, mats, stuffed toys, and anything else lying around their play area.

Next, sprinkle treats throughout the box (particularly on the bottom) and watch as your dog tears it apart, trying to sniff out the location of the treat. There are many ways to make this puzzle more interesting; you can use long boxes or include toys with small pockets and containers to hide treats within (such as yogurt tubs and plastic jars).

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Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are quite a few DIY puzzles that you can create to keep your dog amused during the day or at night when they feel a bit restless. Remember, dogs need exercise just as much as humans do. So, if you’re looking for a fun and inexpensive way to help your dog burn off a few of those treats, one of these DIY puzzles can help.

Featured Image Credit: Lenti Hill, Shutterstock

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