If your dog is stuck in the crate or bored at home, there are many ways you can make their life more exciting. By engaging them to play with sensory toys, you enrich their lives and decrease any stress or anxiety that might arise when you leave them alone at home or in a crate. Luckily, we’ve found a few DIY dog sensory toys that are easy and quick to make!

Separation anxiety and destructive behavior are both very common when a dog is left alone or in a crate. You cannot expect a young or high-energy dog to sleep all day when you are gone, or even when you are working from home. Sensory toys incorporate all the senses that dogs live for–smell, taste, and touch. Here are some sensory toys that you can make at home to keep your dog busy!

Black and brindle dog sitting with a toy in front of him waiting to play with it.

Snuffle Mat

A snuffle mat is a flat mat that can be laid out for a dog to sniff around in. You can put oils (prey, lavender, etc.), treats, or other toys in the mat and wait for your dog to find them! You will need a black welcome or bathroom mat with lots of small holes in it. Next, cut pieces of fabric to the size you want them to be when you tie them around the mat. Tie many pieces of fabric around the holes until it looks like a rug. Find full instructions on our DIY Dog Snuffle Mat blog post here. You can now decorate and fill the mat anything your dog may enjoy! Try something out of your fridge to make the mat special, like carrots or frozen peas. 

Black and brown dog with nose in a colorful snuffle mat on the ground sniffing for treats.

Plastic Bottle Treat Dispenser

There are a few different ways to use plastic bottles as enrichment. Suspending one big bottle will be the easiest DIY though. Run string through a hole in the middle of the bottle and tie each end to something like the cabinets in the kitchen or the sides of the crate. Make sure the bottle is at chest level for the dog to reach. Fill it with treats and watch your dog go to work trying to knock the treats out! There is one other variation of this DIY that involves a wooden frame too. 

Pull Apart Ball Toy

Another fun, interactive take on the snuffle mat, the pull apart ball toys are also very easy to make if you get a Hol-ee Roller Dog Toy. They are small, colorful balls with holes all around the outside. All you need to do is cut some long strips of soft fabric and roll some treats up in the fabric. Then stuff it in the ball until it is completely full! Your dog will have a great time trying to get out the fabric and eating the little treats inside. This sensory toy is great for dogs who rip the stuffing out of their stuffed animals. However, it is NOT good for dogs who eat the stuffing! There are so many ways you can keep your dog entertained during this tough time staying at home.

Keep in mind that they will learn to expect them when you have to return to work in the future. Play around with PCV pipesfeeder toys, and sew some secret treat pockets onto some pillows to maximize playtime with your dog. There is nothing but free time right now, so stay safe by doing

Black and brindle dog laying down with a toy between his front paws.
Author

Caitlin is originally from Vermont and has been working with animals since she can remember. She studied Behavioral Neuroscience and is now Mastering in Animal Shelter Management in Colorado. Her hobbies include horseback riding, fostering animals, and hiking in the Rocky Mountains. She has volunteered at five different animal shelters and worked in three different vet hospitals. Her passions include animal health, behavior, and enrichment. Caitlin also spends time taking high-quality photos of shelter animals to help them get adopted faster.

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