Written by Kim Rain
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 12/30/2020, edited: 10/26/2022
Dogs love their toys. If they aren’t chewing and playing with them, then they are cuddling up for a nap. The only things dogs love more than toys are treats, evident from the wagging tails, smiling faces and quick gobbles anytime they get one. But did you know you can turn treats into toys?
Our canine pals will do almost anything for a tasty treat, so why not put their noses, brains, and muscles to work for a delicious reward? Turning treats into interactive toys beats boredom, engages a dog’s mind, and can even work out some of that endless energy!
And while you can purchase fillable chew toys, treat-dispensing toys, and puzzle games in pet stores, we’ve made a list of furbulous ideas that can turn your dog’s treats into toys using what you’ve already got at home. So, let’s get those noses ready and get playing!
Put your dog’s watchfulness and sniffer to use with this game using a treat and three cups of any size. Tell your dog to stay, put a treat on the floor in front of them, then cover it with a cup. Put the other cups down and switch them around, then let your dog choose which cup hides the treat. Start slowly, then increase the difficulty as they guess correctly.
Make a fillable chew toy with an old tennis ball. Simply cut open a slit on one side of the ball that’s large enough to stuff treats into, but small enough to stay closed. Then, stuff with treats and throw them to your dog to let them discover the treasures inside!
Make use of empty toilet paper or wrapping paper rolls by placing treats inside, then folding the ends in. You can poke holes in it for your dog to sniff, or simply leave it as is. For additional yumminess, seal the ends with peanut butter. Expect your dog to destroy the rolls getting to the smelly goodness inside!
For the craftsman, drill and sand holes in a sealed PVC pipe or plastic drink bottle for your dog to knock around. Be sure to make the holes different sizes so the treats need more roughhousing to fall out as your dog plays.
Snuffle mats get your dog’s nose working by finding treats hidden under the mat’s various flaps. To make your own, simply cut strips of fleece and tie them to a non-skid sink mat. Once finished, hide the treats in the flaps of fleece and set your dog loose to discover all the hidden treasures!
Freeze your dog’s favorite chew toys or ropes in ice. Then, watch your dog lick and chomp them free. For an extra bonus, fill their frozen chew toys with flavored ice cubes made of broth, peanut butter, yogurt, or fruits and veggies for a tasty reward.
Make a puzzle game that engages your dog’s mind, and helps reduce the risk of canine cognitive disorder. Place treats inside a shoebox for a pawrific game of hide and seek. Customize the box with fasteners that your dog will move for a greater challenge. You can cut holes in it, or add on anything else that makes it more difficult to open for expert gamers, just be sure to use materials that are safe for your dog.
This take on a puzzle game requires a muffin tin, treats, and six to twelve balls of the same size. Tennis balls work great, but any kind that fit the cups will do. Simply fill the muffin cups with treats, then top with the balls they’ll have to move for their reward.
A scavenger hunt will get your dog moving, but you’ll need to teach your dog the “Go Find” command first. Then, set up the game by hiding their favorite tasty and smelly treats around the house in safe places. Whether traditional treats, carrots, or apple slices, your dog will love hunting for these yummy rewards once you give the “Go Find” call!
Keeping your dog’s body and mind active can help them stay happy and healthy, so get creative with toys and treats to help your dog beat the boredom blues!
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