8 Easy DIY Dog Puzzles To Make Right Now

You know that taking your dog for walks and playing with them is vital for keeping your pup active. However, mental stimulation is just as important for dogs as physical activity. The highly intelligent Poodle, in particular, requires plenty of mental stimulation.  

Luckily, there are fantastic ways to keep your precious pup from getting bored and destructive. While pre-made options exist, you can also make these entertainment methods yourself. These DIY dog puzzles will keep your pup engaged and enrich their days. 

diy dog puzzles
8 Easy DIY Dog Puzzles To Make Right Now

Benefits of Puzzles for Dogs

Dogs need mental stimulation, just like humans. A simple homemade puzzle toy is a great way to engage your pup mentally. Here are some of the benefits of providing your dog with homemade puzzles:

  • Puzzles engage all of your dog’s senses.
  • These activities help your dog feel successful, which puts them in a good mood. 
  • Staying mentally engaged cuts down on boredom.
  • Reducing boredom can prevent destructive behaviors. 
  • Puzzles are a great way to tire your dog out. 
  • Making your puzzles is an easy way to save money. 
  • Creating your puzzles allows you to personalize your dog’s experience to suit their developmental needs. 

Here are some of easy DIY dog puzzles:

1. Enrichment Box

This puzzle has several names, including a foraging box, and a destruction box. All you need for this puzzle is a cardboard box, plenty of toys, other items that interest your pup, and treats

  • Stuff treats into the toys.
  • Put the stuffed toys in the box. 
  • Sprinkle loose treats throughout the box to enhance the sensory experience. 
  • Close the top of the box.
  • Optionally, cut the top and sides of the box, so your dog can smell what is inside. 
  • Give the box to your dog so they can play.

For the best results, include a few toys your dog loves. Choosing these toys will encourage your dog to engage with the enrichment box. You can also include some other items on this list within the box.

For example, add some towel puzzles and toilet paper roll tube puzzles.    

Poodle inside a box
A Poodle plays inside a box.

2. Water Bottle Puzzle

A water bottle enrichment toy encourages your pup to find their treats trapped in a water bottle. All you need for this DIY dog puzzle is an empty disposable plastic water bottle, treats, and scissors. This puzzle is a good option for smaller dogs since it is somewhat delicate.

Larger dogs will likely not get much stimulation from this puzzle. 

  • Remove the bottle cap and set it aside. 
  • Cut several holes in the water bottle, being careful to not leave any jagged edges. Three is a good number of holes with which to start. If it seems like your pup is struggling, more holes may be good. If your dog finds the treats quickly, fewer holes may be the way to go. 
  • Place treats in the water bottle. 
  • Screw the bottle cap back on. 
  • Provide your dog with the water bottle. 
dog and empty bottle
A dog with an empty bottle.

3. Muffin Tin

You can provide your pup with hours of entertainment with a few supplies from your home. All you need is a muffin tin, 12 balls, plush toys, and some treats. With this simple puzzle, your pup will learn about problem-solving.

The muffin tin can be for large or small muffins. However, you will likely have the best results if you use a larger tin. You can also use balls, plush toys, or a mix of whatever you have in your home.

Follow these steps to create this puzzle:

  • Place a treat in each muffin tin cup. 
  • Place a ball or plush toy. 
  • Let your pup find the treats.

If it seems like your pup does not understand the game, or if you anticipate them struggling, leave a few of the treats uncovered. You can also lift a ball off of a treat, ensuring your dog is looking. As a result, your dog will hopefully be able to extrapolate that there are treats in the other muffin tins.  

muffin tin for dogs
A muffin tin can be used as dog puzzle!

4. Towel Puzzle

A simple towel puzzle is a great way to introduce your dog to the concept of a puzzle. You can use a towel, washcloth, blanket, piece of fleece, and other fabric for this puzzle. Make sure the size of towel or fabric you choose is compatible with your dog’s size.

This puzzle teaches your dog that treats may be in unexpected places. 

  • Place the towel on a flat surface.
  • Add a line of treats at the edge of the towel. 
  • Roll up the treats in the blanket.
  • As you roll up the towel, you can add more treats. 
  • Either give the towel to your dog or use it as part of an enrichment box.  

5. Puzzle Stuffed Animal

If you are feeling extra crafty, consider making your dog their own puzzle stuffed animal. This toy is simply a stuffed animal with a few strategic pockets that provide a space to hide treats. 

There are many places online where you can find patterns for stuffed animals. You will need sewing supplies such as fabric, thread, stuffing, scissors, and needles. A sewing machine will also do the trick.

Besides the sewing materials, you should also have some treats on hand. 

  • Cut all the pieces of fabric you need for your stuffed animal. 
  • Sew the pieces together, making sure to sew on the pocket or pockets before stuffing. 
  • Stuff the animal. 
  • If you are fine with the toy getting destroyed quickly, add some noisy or smelly items inside the animal. 
  • Hide treats in the pockets. 
  • Give the toy to your dog and let them find the treats. 
dog plays with toy
The dog plays with his toy.

6. Snuffle Mat

A snuffle mat is a somewhat more complex DIY dog puzzle option than some of the choices on this list. This game replicates the feeling of foraging that your dog’s ancestors experienced. For this project, you will need a rubber mat or piece of cardboard for backing and plenty of fleece fabric.

You will also need scissors and a tiny screwdriver. Specific sizes and amounts will depend on the size of the mat you want to make. 

  • Cut the fleece into strips. They should be about an inch wide and between six and eight inches long. The exact amount you need will vary. For a square foot-sized mat you may need about 200 strips of fleece. 
  • Create holes in the base about an inch apart from each other using a screwdriver. On a square foot-sized mat you can create 121 holes. 
  • Push the fleece strips through the holes. There are a few different ways you can do this. A good way is to feed a strip through two holes. Tie the ends of the strip together to stabilize the strip. You can then weave the strips of fabric through in the other direction. 
  • Place a treat on the mat to show your dog that this is for them. 
  • As your dog gets more comfortable, hid treats throughout the mat with increasing difficulty. 
snuffle mat for pets
A snuffle mat with treats hiding on it can keep your dog busy.

7. Toilet Paper Roll

With this environmentally-friendly puzzle, you do not need to buy any additional supplies. Just save the cardboard centers of your toilet paper rolls. This puzzle is another one that is best for smaller dogs.

You can also use a paper towel roll for medium and slightly larger dogs.

  • Take a cardboard toilet paper roll. 
  • Cut the ends of the roll slightly so that you can fold the ends down. Alternatively, you can plug the ends with fabric or twist the ends. 
  • Close one end of the roll through whatever means you prefer. 
  • Fill the roll with treats and maybe a small toy.
  • Close the other end of the roll.  
  • Give this puzzle to your dog. They will enjoy trying to get to the treats inside, either by opening the ends or ripping the roll apart.  
bunch of empty toilet paper rolls
A bunch of empty toilet paper rolls.

8. Teething-friendly Sweet Potato Rope

The potato rope toy is one of the slightly more time-intensive crafts on this list. To make it, you will need a dog-safe rope, a sweet potato, a knife, parchment paper, and an oven. This one is a great toy for a teething dog or any dog that loves chewing

  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  • Slice a sweet potato into discs that are about a quarter inch thick.
  • Cut a hole in the center of each slice that will generously accommodate the width of the rope. The slices can shrink after baking. 
  • Place the slices on the parchment paper-lined sheets in a single layer. 
  • Bake the slices for two and a half hours to three hours total. Flip the slices around the hour to an hour and a half mark. 
  • Tie a knot on the end of the rope. 
  • String the slices onto the rope. If you like, you can knot in between some of the slices. 
  • When all the slices are on, tie a knot on the other end. 
sweet potatoes being peeled
Can dogs eat sweet potato peel?

Final Thoughts

The next time your pup seems bored or in a destructive mood, refocus their energy with a few of these excellent homemade puzzles for dogs. DIY dog puzzles engage your dog’s senses and mind in new ways. Every dog is different.

So, it may take some time for your pup to get the hang of a puzzle. Set your dog up for success and be patient with their progress. Always supervise your dog during play.