Are you tired of shelling out loads of cash on expensive plush animals and other toys that your pet shreds in only a few minutes? While your furry pal certainly needs the enrichment and entertainment that toys provide, you can easily become frustrated with how quickly they demolish a toy. Quit maxing out your pet budget and make your own toys with household items. Read on to learn why enrichment toys are so important for your pet’s wellbeing, and how to craft your own. 

What are enrichment toys for pets?

Pets not only need physical activity to keep their muscles strong, but also mental challenges to keep their mind sharp. Enrichment toys may not provide much physical activity, but they can turn your pet’s boring day home alone into one packed with intriguing mental puzzles. Without adequate enrichment, pets can develop a multitude of unwanted behaviors, including:

  • Destruction
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Inappropriate elimination
  • Overeating
  • Overgrooming
  • Bullying or aggression with other household pets

Creative outlets for your pet’s instinctive behaviors reduce unpleasant actions and provide a mental workout to ward off cognitive dysfunction, a common issue among older pets.

5 DIY enrichment toys for pets

You may think you have zero crafty bones in your body, but you don’t need much artistic skill to create the following enrichment toys for your pet. Try turning trash into toys that provide your furry pal with hours of fun.

#1: “Holey” roller water bottle

This DIY treat-dispensing toy is a great way to recycle plastic soda and water bottles, and your pet will burn off some calories nudging the toy across the floor. All you need is a clean, empty plastic bottle and a utility knife. 

  1. Remove the label from the bottle.
  2. Cut multiple holes slightly larger than your pet’s food or treats in the bottle.
  3. Place a handful of appetizing snacks in the bottle and tightly screw on the lid.
  4. Roll the bottle along the floor to show your pet how to access the food. 

Keep a close eye on your pet as they play with this toy, and remove the bottle once they start crunching down, to prevent gum and tooth injuries.

#2: Fabric treat ball

Your furry pal will love “unwrapping” this treat-filled fabric ball that requires only a few fabric scraps from old T-shirts, blankets, or towels.

  1. Cut fabric strips into about four-inch pieces that are wide enough to hold a few treats, and fold the fabric lengthwise into thirds. 
  2. Lay the folded and filled fabric strips over each other at different angles, so they overlap only in the middle. 
  3. Tuck the fabric ends together to form loose knots, holding the ball together. 
  4. Toss the ball to your pet and watch them unravel the fabric ends and sniff out their treats. 

If your pet has a penchant for destroying soft toys or eating your socks, supervise them closely while they search for their snacks, and put the fabric away when all the treats have been found.

#3: Cardboard ring ball

The cardboard tube from a toilet paper roll and a handful of treats make a cheap, interactive treat dispenser for your pet. This toy is a feline favorite, but small dogs may also enjoy pushing the roll with their nose.

  1. Make one-quarter-inch-wide marks along the side of a cardboard tube. 
  2. Cut off each section with scissors to form cardboard rings.
  3. Insert each ring inside another one, rotating them so they do not overlap. The finished product will resemble a ball.
  4. Poke a few small treats through the gaps left by the rings.
  5. Toss the ball to your pet and demonstrate how to get the treats out. 

Some pets, especially larger dogs, may be tempted to gulp down the entire ball, treats and all. Supervise your pet during the initial play session to ensure they do not eat the cardboard.

Enrichment activities and toys are an excellent way to prevent pet boredom and anxiety. Give our Pet Resort at Stone Ridge team a call to learn how we use daily enrichment for our boarding guests.