How to Make a Homemade Puzzle Feeder for Your Dog to Combat Boredom?

April 8, 2024

Have you noticed your dog acting restless or bored, even after a long walk or playtime? This could be because your pet needs mental stimulation, not just physical exercise. Mental enrichment is as crucial for your dog’s well-being as regular physical activity. Enrichment toys, like a DIY puzzle feeder, can provide this stimulation and keep your pup entertained for hours. In this article, we will guide you through the steps to create a simple, yet intriguing homemade puzzle feeder for your dog.

The Importance of Puzzle Feeders for Dogs

Before we delve into the DIY process, let’s understand why puzzle feeders are so beneficial for dogs. Like humans, dogs thrive on mental stimulus. They love challenges and rewards, and a puzzle feeder combines both these elements in a fun and engaging way.

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These specially designed toys consist of compartments or mechanisms that hide treats. Your dog will need to figure out how to release the treats, thus engaging their problem-solving skills. The treat serves as a reward for their hard work, keeping them motivated. It’s a great way to keep their brains sharp and their bodies active.

Puzzle feeders also play a key role in controlling your dog’s eating speed. If your dog gulps down food quickly, it can lead to digestive problems. A puzzle feeder turns mealtime into a game, slowing down their eating speed and promoting better digestion.

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Choosing the Right Materials

Now that we understand the importance of puzzle feeders, let’s focus on the materials required to make a DIY puzzle feeder. You’ll need a durable material that will withstand your dog’s excited biting and chewing. Here are a few common materials that you can use:

  • Plastic Bottles: If your pup is a small to medium-sized breed, an empty, clean plastic bottle can make the perfect puzzle toy. You’ll need to ensure the bottle is large enough to hold treats but small enough for your dog to handle. Always choose a bottle without a sharp, potentially harmful edge.

  • Cardboard Boxes: You can use a small cardboard box to make a puzzle box. Ensure it’s sturdy and doesn’t collapse easily under your pet’s weight.

  • Tennis Balls: These make great puzzle feeders, especially for larger breeds. You can make a small slit to hide the treat.

  • Food-safe plastic containers: These are ideal for making a more complex puzzle feeder. Ensure the container has a lid to make the puzzle tricky.

Creating a Puzzle Feeder with a Plastic Bottle

One of the easiest ways to make a DIY puzzle feeder is by using a plastic bottle. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Clean the bottle: Ensure the bottle is clean and dry before you start. Remove any labels or stickers that your dog might accidentally ingest.

  2. Make holes in the bottle: Use a sharp tool to make small holes in the bottle. Make sure the holes are large enough for the treats to fall out but small enough to make it a challenge for your dog.

  3. Fill the bottle with treats: Add your dog’s favourite treats or dry food to the bottle.

  4. Close the bottle: Screw the lid back on securely. Ensure your dog can’t easily remove the cap.

  5. Introduce the toy to your dog: Encourage your dog to interact with the puzzle feeder. They will quickly learn that moving the bottle results in a tasty treat.

Designing a Cardboard Box Puzzle Feeder

If you’re feeling a bit more creative, why not try a cardboard box puzzle feeder? This requires a bit more effort but offers a stimulating challenge for your pet.

  1. Select the right box: A small, sturdy box is ideal. Ensure it’s a box you don’t mind your dog destroying.

  2. Preparation: Remove any staples or tape that could harm your dog.

  3. Create compartments: Use cardboard strips to divide the box into various compartments.

  4. Hide the treats: Place treats in some of the compartments. The aim is to make your dog sniff out the treats with their excellent sense of smell.

  5. Seal the box: Close the box and introduce it to your dog. Watch as they try to figure out how to get to the hidden rewards.

Constructing a Tennis Ball Feeder

A tennis ball feeder can be an excellent puzzle for larger dogs. Here’s how to make one:

  1. Select a clean, robust tennis ball: Make sure it’s not too worn out, as it will quickly fall apart under your pet’s fangs.

  2. Create a small hole or slit: Using a sharp knife, make a small hole or slit in the tennis ball. Ensure it’s big enough for a treat to fit, but small enough to make it a challenge.

  3. Insert treats: Put a few treats inside the ball through the slit.

  4. Introduce the toy to your pet: Your dog will now have to work out how to squeeze the treats out of the ball.

Whether it’s a plastic bottle, a cardboard box, or a tennis ball feeder, these DIY puzzle feeders will provide hours of mental stimulation for your pup. Remember, always supervise your pet while they’re playing with these toys. A DIY puzzle feeder will not only keep your pet entertained, but also enhance their problem-solving skills and turn mealtime into a fun game. Happy crafting!

Building a Muffin Tin Dog Puzzle

Creating a muffin tin puzzle feeder is another engaging way to entertain your pet. It’s a great option for dogs who love to sniff and explore, and it’s incredibly simple to put together. This exercise will take advantage of your pup’s excellent sense of smell, providing not only mental stimulation but also a chance to interact with their food in a novel way.

  1. Find a muffin tin: This dog enrichment toy is as simple as it sounds. All you need is a muffin tin you no longer use in the kitchen. Ensure it’s sturdy and clean before using it as a dog toy.

  2. Gather tennis balls: You’ll also need as many tennis balls as there are holes in the muffin tin. These will act as the obstacles your pup needs to move to get to the treats.

  3. Place treats in the tin: Distribute your dog’s favorite treats or a portion of their dry food in the muffin tin’s holes. You can adjust the amount according to your pup’s size and dietary needs.

  4. Cover treats with tennis balls: Place a tennis ball over each hole, covering the treats. The aim is for your pet to remove or displace the balls to get to their reward.

  5. Introduce the muffin tin puzzle to your dog: Allow your dog to interact with the muffin tin puzzle. You’ll be surprised how clever your pet can be when there’s a food reward waiting.

Crafting a Snuffle Mat Puzzle Feeder

A snuffle mat is a superb DIY puzzle feeder that promotes your pet’s natural foraging skills. This feeder requires more materials and time to create but offers your pet a unique and fun way to receive their meals or treats.

  1. Materials: You’ll need a rubber sink mat and several yards of fleece fabric. Cut the fabric into strips about 1-2 inches wide and 6-8 inches long.

  2. Weave the fabric: Push a fabric strip up through a hole in the mat, then down through a neighboring hole. Pull the ends until they are even, and then tie them in a knot at the base of the mat. Repeat this process until you’ve filled all the holes in the mat.

  3. Hide treats: Once your snuffle mat is complete, hide treats or dry food among the fleece strips.

  4. Introduce the snuffle mat to your dog: Allow your dog to sniff out and find their hidden rewards. Remember to supervise your pet while they’re exploring the snuffle mat to prevent any accidental ingestion of the fabric.


Creating DIY puzzle feeders for your dog is a fantastic way to keep your pup mentally and physically engaged. It’s an enriching activity that not only combats boredom but also promotes healthy eating habits. Remember to tailor the difficulty of the puzzle to your dog’s capabilities and to always supervise their playtime with these toys. Furthermore, switch up the types of puzzles to keep the game exciting and stimulating for your pet. No matter what feeder you choose to create, whether it’s a plastic bottle, a cardboard box, a tennis ball, a muffin tin, or a snuffle mat, your dog will surely appreciate the challenge and the tasty rewards that come with it. Happy crafting, and most importantly, enjoy this fun and rewarding bonding time with your pet!