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3 DIY Enrichment Toys Your Pet Will Love

Pet enrichment is an important topic these days. But, like most buzzwords, the word enrichment has many different meanings. If you aren’t exactly sure what pet enrichment is, and wonder if your naivete makes you a terrible pet owner, we promise, you’re not alone. However, when you have been to a zoo or animal rehabilitation center, you have likely seen animal enrichment in action without realizing it. Although this practice has been recognized for years, today, many pet owners want guidance on how to provide enrichment for their pets. Our Juanita Hills Animal Hospital team explains pet enrichment’s importance and shares easy do-it-yourself (DIY) toys you can make to engage your pet’s body and mind. 

What is enrichment for pets?

Animal behaviorists and trainers use the term enrichment to describe games and activities that help keep pets mentally sharp and engaged in their environment. Your pet needs more than food, water, and a place to sleep to lead a satisfying life, and inadequate physical exercise and mental stimulation can lead to a host of medical and behavioral issues, such as destruction, excessive vocalization, inappropriate elimination, overgrooming, irritability, and more. Enrichment provides your pet with opportunities to engage in natural behaviors as they would in the wild, which supports their physical and mental health. Enrichment can take many forms, catering to a variety of your pet’s senses, including:

  • Social enrichment — Through social enrichment, you provide your pet with opportunities to socialize with other pets and people.
  • Cognitive enrichment — Through cognitive enrichment, you present your pet activities that stimulate and hone their innate problem-solving skills.  
  • Sensory enrichment —Through sensory enrichment, you provide stimulation for your pet’s senses of sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. 
  • Food enrichment — Rather than simply being handed a free meal, many pets prefer to stretch their mental and physical muscles to work for their food. 
  • Toy enrichment — By providing your pet enrichment through toys, you provide your furry friend with different objects to keep them entertained.

Get creative with your pet’s enrichment activities

Although you can purchase a number of highly engaging pet toys, why not get creative and make your own pet enrichment toys? Even better, these DIY projects won’t break the bank! 

#1: Hide-and-seek muffin tin 

This activity is a true brain game, putting your pet’s keen sense of smell to work. In addition, your pet uses their motor skills to knock away the balls and reach the treat.

  • Supplies: Mini- or full-sized muffin tin, balls that fit in the muffin tin’s wells, food or treats
  • Instructions: Break treats into a few small pieces and place them in random muffin tin wells. Place tennis balls in all the muffin tin wells, covering the treats and hiding them from your pet’s sight. Place the muffin tin in front of your pet. They will sniff around and figure out how to knock the balls out of the muffin tin to get the hidden treats. 

#2: Paper roll reveal

You can’t get much simpler than this DIY treat dispenser. While this toy will likely only withstand one use, you can easily make more, and your pet will enjoy sniffing out treats and figuring out how to get to them. 

  • Supplies — Toilet paper or paper towel roll, food, or treats. 
  • Instructions — Fold over one end of the paper roll to close it, add a few treats inside, and fold over to close the other end. For an added challenge, hide the roll for your pet to hunt, and watch them work to reveal the treats tucked inside. 

#3: T-shirt tugger 

Rather than spending money on a new tug toy, recycle an old T-shirt for this DIY enrichment toy project. You and your pet can play endless games of tug-of-war with your old T-shirts.

  • Supplies — An old T-shirt and a pair of scissors
  • Instructions — Lay the T-shirt out on a flat surface, and starting just below the sleeves, cut the shirt straight across. Discard the neck and sleeve, and cut the remaining fabric into strips—one inch in width for small pets and a wider width for larger pets. Gather three of the strips together, and tie a knot at one end. Braid the strips together and tie them off at the other end. Let the tug game begin!

Now that you understand pet enrichment, try making these DIY pet toys. These projects may even pique your interest in devising your own DIY pet enrichment projects. Ensure your pet lives a long, healthy, happy, and enriching life by scheduling their annual wellness exams with our Juanita Hills Animal Hospital team. 

By |2023-03-21T11:34:48+00:00March 20th, 2023|News|0 Comments

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