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diy dog puzzles

DIY Dog Puzzles

DOG-I-Y: Dog Puzzles 

Is your dog looking forward to watching the third season of Stranger Things... again? Probably not, although it is an amazing show. Doggos aren't as hyped about binge-watching Netflix as humans. Lazy days at home, especially during quarantine, can make anyone restless including your dog. If your pup has been sneaking into the trash or chewing up your shoes lately, then your dog might just be bored and looking for something to do. 

How do you know if your dog is bored? Here are a few signs to look out for:

  • Restless behavior
  • Attention-seeking behavior
  • Destructive behavior (such as chewing furniture or shoes)
  • Pawing for attention
  • Sneaking into the trash
  • Counter-surfing
  • Barking
  • Jumping
  • Digging up the yard

Dogs, like humans, need physical exercise AND mental stimulation to keep them healthy. In fact, research shows that dogs who are kept mentally active are less likely to develop dementia and are healthier in their senior years. 

    Playing enrichment games and practicing nose-work are fun and effective ways to stimulate your dog's brain. Here are some simple Do-It-Yourself puzzles that you can make for your fur friend. Plus, you'll get some mental exercise too! 

    Check out these easy DIY "boredom busters" for your dog:

    How to build a Dog Enrichment Toy - PVC Pipe Puzzle

    dog enrichment toy

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    This homemade puzzle requires a quick trip to the hardware store and a power drill to punch holes. The PVC pipe and caps is an easy puzzle for humans to assemble, but rolling the treatos out of this toy is a time consuming challenge for dogs.

    Want to make your own dog enrichment toy like this one? Here's how!

    First, you'll need the following items and tools:

    • 2-inch PVC pipe (cut about 12-inches long)
    • 2-inch PVC cap
    • 2-inch PVC female adapter pipe fitment with threaded cap
    • 1/2-inch drill bit
    • Power drill
    • JB Weld or super glue

    PVC Puzzle drilling and assembly instructions:

    Temporarily attach the end fitments onto the PVC pipe and mark where the pipe will be covered- this helps to avoid drilling unnecessary holes. Remove the end fitments, then use a 1/2-inch drill bit and power drill to drill holes into your PVC pipe. ( Very important: Double tap the trigger to make sure the drill works.😉 ) The holes can be placed randomly along the pipe, it doesn't need to be anywhere specific. Keep in mind that drilling less holes will make it a more challenging puzzle. 


    drill holes in pvc pipe

    For a clean drill hole: After your drill bit goes through the hole, make sure to continue spinning the drill bit as the bit exits the hole too. If you still have burrs or sharp edges, you can sand it down with coarse sand paper.

    Once the drill holes are smooth, you can attach the pipe fitments. Apply super glue or JB Weld to the end of the pipe to attach the end cap on one end and adapter fitment to the other end. Allow adhesive to dry. Note: Do not glue the threaded cap, as this is the removable end to refill treats. 

    After your DIY dog puzzle has dried, it's time to add the dog treats! Choose your dog's favorite treat and be sure the treat pieces are small enough to fall out of the 1/2-inch drill holes. Now twist on the end cap and give your pup this special, handmade treat puzzle for a fun challenge! Your dog will be super impressed.


    How to make a Sweet Potato Chew Toy

    bulldog puppy chewing on diy dog chew toy

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    This DIY chew toy with dehydrated sweet potato is awesome for small pups who are not notorious toy shredders. It's an inexpensive chew toy that will keep your dog occupied for a while and you don't have to clean up a "stuffing explosion" afterward.

    Creating this homemade dog chew toy is essentially like making a beaded necklace; your ring-shaped sweet potato treats are the beads and the rope is your string! Here's more detailed instructions on how to make this easy DIY sweet potato dog chew toy:


    • Dog-friendly, dehydrated sweet potato chips.
    • 2 to 3-feet long strands of cotton rope, hemp rope or similar dog-safe fabric, up to an inch in diameter thick. Note: the rope has to be thin enough to fit through the center of the sweet potato pieces.
    • Knife or small round cookie cutter 

    If you've ever made a simple beaded necklace during an Arts & Crafts lesson, this handmade dog toy will be a breeze to make. You'll need to make your "beads" first by cutting holes in several pieces of your dehydrated sweet potato rounds/chips. Cut the holes just wide enough for the rope to fit through. 

    Then, you'll need to tie a thick knot at one end of the rope and slide a sweet potato treat down towards the knot. Tie a simple knot close to that piece of treat to keep it in place. Now continue to add knots and treats throughout the rope until you run out of rope. Boom! Now your DIY chew toy for your dog is ready to be put to the test. This can be a great toy to toss into the dog crate to keep your pup busy and entertained!

    How to make a DIY Snuffle Mat 

    diy snuffle mat

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    The snuffle mat (also known as dog enrichment mat, sniffle mat or sniff mat) is a colorful activity mat for dogs to sniff out treats. Since this project is a bit time-consuming, you can organize a "crafter-noon" with your friends while your doggos enjoy a playdate- it's a win/win! Here's how to make your own dog snuffle mat:


    • Plastic sink mat 
    • 1 to 1-1/2 yards of fleece fabric or an inexpensive fleece throw blanket
    • Rotary cutter or fabric scissors
    • Ruler or self-healing craft mat
    • Your dog's favorite small treats

    Cut the fleece fabric into 1-inch wide by 6-inch long strips using scissors or a rotary cutter. Tie each strip of fabric through the grid/drain holes on the sink mat until the fabric on the mat is thick enough to prevent treats from falling through the holes. The strips of fabric do not need to be double-knotted, just one overhand knot will do. Once your DIY snuffle mat is complete, it's time to sprinkle in your dog's favorite treats!


    plastic sink mat grid

    Here's an example of a sink mat with drain holes for this DIY dog enrichment mat.


    How to make a Bottle Spinning Toy 

    bottle spinning puzzle for dogs

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    Are you up for this DIY dog toy challenge? You may have seen Bottle Spinning dog puzzles (aka Spin-out Dog Treat Puzzle) before, but if you haven't made your own yet it's worth a try. This is an entertaining brain teaser for pups! It requires a trip to the hardware store for supplies and includes bada** power tool sound effects.

    Here are the required supplies and helpful tips for building this spin-out dog puzzle:


    • 2 or 3, One-Liter soda bottles 
    • Wood dowel 3/8-inch up to 1-inch diameter; about 24 inches in length
    • Scrap wood for base and structure support
    • Wood screws
    • Power drill and appropriate drill bits
    • Tape measurer
    • Saw (your preference)
    • Your dog's favorite small treats

    As you can see, there are several variations to this puzzle -you can make the structure sturdier, larger or more complex. Some important tips for building the structure is to cut identical support pieces for the posts. Build a solid base with a heavy and/or wide board to prevent the structure from tipping over. The most important part of this puzzle: make sure the bottles spin and will dispense treats. For more thorough instructions, check out this blog.

    dog puzzle DIY bottle spin toy idea

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    Shell Game 

    shell cup game for dogs

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    Looking for a puzzle that doesn't require a craft? Then you and your dog might love this Shell Game. You'll just need to gather some containers or "shells"- such as lightweight cups or boxes- and snag your pup's favorite small toy or treats. Begin this game by hiding a reward under one of two shells and encourage your dog to find it. Make the puzzle a little more challenging by adding more shells as your dog progresses.

    Tennis Ball Treat Dispenser

    tennis ball treat dispenser

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    Up-cycle old dog toys to make a simple treat dispenser toy for your fur-friend. Keep in mind that this puzzle isn't ideal for every dog, especially pets who have destructive tendencies.

    To make this dog toy, simply cut open a hallow ball, tennis ball or a used plastic water bottle and place treats inside. Place several small dog treats or kibble inside the hole of the toy and watch your pup embrace the challenge.


    Easy Muffin Tin Puzzle 

    tennis ball muffin tin

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    Looking for an effortless puzzle to make for your dog? This Muffin Tin challenge requires 3 things: tennis balls, a muffin tin and your dog's favorite treats.

    To setup this game: Disperse small dog treats into the cups of a metal muffin tin. Then place tennis balls or on top of each cup to hide the treats. You can make this game more challenging for your pup by keeping some slots empty. 


    Before boredom sucks you into watching more Netflix documentaries, spend time crafting a few puzzles for your dog. Not only will these crafts keep you busy, but they'll keep your dog's mind busy too!


    diy dog puzzles