DIY Mental Enrichment Games for Dogs

TLC Pet Food lists fun and easy DIY mental enrichment games for your dog that can be done with items found within your home.

Pets can become frustrated when there is a lack of mental stimulation in their day-to-day activities, leading to them acting out. Dogs and cats are curious by nature and love to learn, which is why it is important to not only focus on physical activity but mental activity too!

What are “Mental Enrichment” games?

Any activity that exercises your pet’s brain and promotes the use of their senses and problem solving skills.

These DIY pet enrichment games are a great way to improve your pet’s mental well being and overall happiness:

Towel Twist

Twist dog treats in a towel and let your pet find them

This first game is very simple to set up, just as effective at challenging your pet’s brain and they’ll love it! Simply lay out an old towel and spread out pieces of your pet’s TLC Kibble or Whole Life Dog Biscuits across the towel for a high value reward. Next, roll your towel up, hiding the treats inside. Your pet will love sniffing out the treats using their paws or nose to unravel the towel. Pets use their nose to discover the world around them and any activity that will engage this sense can help engage and stimulate your pet.

Track the Treat

Track the treat using cups to hide the treat

You might be familiar with different variations of the “shell game,” but did you know dogs have their version too? Simply hide a high-value treat like TLC Whole Life Dog Biscuits under one cup out of a set of three cups and have your pup sniff out the one with the treat. They will have to engage mentally to find the treat and problem solve how to get the treat out from under the cup.

Treat Blocker

Hide treats in a muffin tin under different items

Fill a few sections of a muffin tin with pieces of your pet’s TLC Food and cover each section of the tin with a ball or small toy as a “treat blocker” to cover the section. Don’t put food in every section to make it harder for your pet to find. Let your pet work to seek and remove each “treat blocker” and enjoy the tasty reward.

Hide & Treat

Hide treats in the grass outside

Help meet your pet’s scavenging and hunting needs by scattering some of their food and high value treats, like TLC Dog Biscuits, around your house or yard. Include some hiding spots where your pet may need to work to get to the treat. Be sure to keep track of where you hide their food in case they are not able to find every piece -although we are sure they will want to keep working until they do!

Treat Bottle

Put treats in a bottle and let your pet knock them out

The “Treat Bottle” game engages your pet mentally and pushes them to do some critical thinking to come up with a technique to spin the bottle and release the food. Re-use an empty plastic bottle and fill it with some of your pet’s TLC Food; keep the cap off the bottle and tie a piece of string around it. The smaller the bottle, the smaller the opening for the food will be and the trickier it will be for your pet! You can choose to have two people hold each side of the string or tie it to two chairs/doors for your dog to play. The bottle will naturally stand up straight with the food at the bottom of the bottle; however, as your pet nudges the bottle and works to have it spin around, the food will fall out. This will keep your dog busy for a long time and help tire them out for the day!

* Note: Pets should remain supervised while playing these games.