Day 16 Tubs

Welcome to Day 16 of #100daysofenrichment and thank you for joining us on this journey!

Although our challenges are directed mainly at dogs, we want all species to enjoy and benefit from #100daysofenrichment so, please join in, adjust and adapt to help your pet or companion live a more enriched life.

Don’t forget to review all the information leading up to #100daysofenrichment and more here on playing safe. Know your dog!



At a glance:

  • plastic tubs that are the puzzle or have fun and puzzles inside
  • food based enrichment
  • add food, add the lid, add packing, stick in a busy box, stack in another tub
  • get the family involved in this one – kids love making puzzles for pets and these challenges offer lots of opportunities for children to use their imagination to come up with the best tub puzzles for their pets.
    Remember, supervise children in all enrichment activities and interactions with pets.
  • prepping tub puzzles will take 5-10 minutes and you can use lots of the bits and pieces we use in other puzzles



What do you need?

  • small plastic tubs from cream cheese, vegetables or fruit, or even lunchboxes; with their lid

closed tub

  • paper e.g. packing paper, kitchen roll, newspaper etc.
  • a bigger box (one that the tub fits into)
  • paper cups or toilet roll tubes
  • a range of food rewards

Enrichment Goals:

  • to encourage a wide range of foraging and exploratory behaviours
  • to do more feeding related behaviour than eating
  • to encourage the development of strategies (behaviours) for getting the food out of  the boxes
  • by varying the design of each Tub puzzle we will facilitate carrying out a range of different behaviours, broadening the dog’s repertoire

While this challenge is certainly food based, they are also experiencing cognitive, sensory and environmental enrichment, with lots of crossover between categories.

Working out how to manipulate and open the tub to get to the food and developing dexterous skills in manipulating the tubs and packing are examples of cognitive challenge.

Sniffing out, tasting and chewing food all offer sensory pay off, but so does finding their way through each food puzzle, determining its value,  and engaging in the puzzle of getting to the good stuff.

Tub puzzles encourage pets to interact with their environment – just the very interaction with the box is encouraging the pet to manipulate their surroundings, to get the things they like.

By offering a variety of tub puzzles, we want to help the dog expand their range of puzzle-busting behaviours and facilitate your pet applying strategies from other puzzles to new ones; that’s a true cognitive gift and is growing your dog’s brain!

What goals can you add to this list for your pets?

How can we achieve these goals?

  • give your pet plenty of space for working on tub puzzles and bear in mind there will be mess, so think about spaces that are easier for clean up
  • the more difficult you have made the challenge, the higher the value the reward must be so use HIGH value foods to motivate exploration and experimentation and make it VERY easy to get the food (no frustration!)
  • if your dog just dives in, in full on destruction mode that might also be an indicator that they need an easier challenge so they get to experiment with a broader range of behaviours

What adjustments will you make for your pets?

Applications of Tub Puzzles:

Tub puzzles, just like Busy Boxes, can keep dogs occupied as they offer different possibilities for expanding the dog’s behavioural range, truly engaging them cognitively. They are truly adaptable and again you only limited by your imagination!

Add a lid, in tub puzzles, adds a new challenge to Busy Boxes and similar.

Just as I tend to see with Busy Boxes, well-meaning owners can go waaaaay over board, coming up with the most elaborate designs to really challenge their pet.

While it’s great to go for challenge, it’s important that enrichment remain enriching. That means that the challenge must be made appropriate and doable for the individual puzzler.

Our job is to adjust the puzzle difficulty so that our dog uses a range of behaviour and gets to the goal pretty quickly.

This is the true way to improve the dog’s confidence in puzzling (and in life) and help them expand their behavioural repertoire.


Because of the home made nature and variable materials used in tub puzzles, it’s best to supervise your pet carefully when they have access to this puzzle.
Know your dog! If you have an ingester or a cruncher, tub puzzles may not work  for you and at the very least, careful supervision will be required. Although they might still eat the plastic in a tub puzzle, it will just take them longer.

If you are concerned about your dog ingesting non-food items during puzzling, have a pocketful of HIGH value treats in your pocket and be ready to toss a couple toward your dog, across their eyeline, if you think they are thinking about eating the paper.
Making sure the challenge is very doable and they can get to the hidden food rewards quickly is key to modifying their behaviour and expectations during puzzling.

Check all your equipment for this challenge carefully and make sure to remove tape, staples, other fastners, small pieces and plastic pieces. Play safe!

Enrichment Options

Today’s Tub Puzzle challenge will bring you and your pet through several levels. Even if you are both experienced puzzlers, start with the lower levels to see how wide a range of behaviours your dog offers, to solve the puzzle.

Do they just barrel in, in full-on destruction mode?

Do they try different behaviours for different challenges?

What range of exploratory and foraging behaviours can you observe?

Option 1: Close the lid

This is your starting point and it builds on puzzling challenges like Busy Boxes.


  • add food to the tub
  • loosely place the lid on the tub and give it to the dog

This might be important to help build confidence in the process and reduce frustration and blind-destruction.


  • add food to the tub
  • close the lid

If the tub is from a suitable food, like cream cheese or butter, closing the lid and allowing the dog to clean the tub is even less work for you!



If your dog has difficulty with the lid (frustrated vocalising, bites or chews at it intensely, gives up), try this adjustment to help them learn about lids:



  • stuff it!
  • wrap treats into paper, such as newspaper, kitchen roll or packing paper
  • add to the tub and close the lid

packed tub

No lid? No worries

Pop a treat under an upturned tub and let your dog work out this brain teaser!


Option 2 Wrap It!

Add paper on the outside to bring a new dimension to the challenge!



  • add food to the tub
  • don’t put the lid on and just wrap the tub in paper
  • use a large enough piece of paper that you can make a Christmas cracker shape – scrunch and twist the two ends to secure everything inside


  • add the food, close the lid
  • wrap it!


  • stuff the tub with food in paper
  • close the lid
  • wrap it!

Option 3 Add to a Busy Box

Add Tub Puzzles to Busy Boxes to make a compound puzzle; a puzzle in a puzzle in a puzzle!

boxes small1


  • add a closed tub puzzle to a box
  • if you like, add packing or other items to the box like egg boxes or balls


  • add a stuffed tub puzzle to a box
  • if you like, add packing or other items to the box like egg boxes or balls


  • add a wrapped tub puzzle to a box
  • if you like, add packing or other items to the box like egg boxes or balls

Option 4 Tube in a Tub

Stuffing a tub is one thing, but you can expand the challenge by adding a tube, such as toilet roll tube, to a closed tub.


  • stuff a tube
  • add to a tub and close the lid






  • add treats to a tube or paper cup
  • fold down the openings to make a treat parcel
  • add to a tub and close the lid

treat parcels


  • add a stuffed tube or a treat parcel to a tub
  • close the lid
  • wrap it!


Option 5 Stacked Tubs

Stacking open tubs brings a whole new set of challenges for the dog. This works well if you can’t find or don’t have lids for your tubs.


  • take two tubs that can stack
  • add lots of paper, with treats, to one tub
  • stack the other tub on top


  • add more layers


  • use less stuffing in each layer so that it’s more difficult to split the stacked tubs

stacked tubs

Your challenge

Now it’s your turn. Show us what you and your pets, of any species, can do with these challenges!

Post to your social media accounts, using the #100daysofenrichment so that we can find you and join our Facebook group to share your experiences, ideas and fun!
You can comment right here too 🙂

We look forward to hearing from you and your pets – have fun & brain games!