Welcome to Day 18 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.
At a glance:
- egg boxes that are the puzzle or have fun and puzzles inside
- food based enrichment
- add food, close the lid, add packing, stick in a busy box, make it a teaser, wrap it up
- 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 eggbox puzzles for their pets.
Remember, supervise children in all enrichment activities and interactions with pets.
- prepping eggbox 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?
- paper e.g. packing paper, kitchen roll, newspaper etc.
- a bigger box (one that the eggbox fits into)
- paper cups, toilet roll tubes, balls
- a range of food rewards
- 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 eggbox 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 eggbox to get to the food and developing dexterous skills in manipulating the boxes 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.
Eggbox 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 eggbox 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 eggbox 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 Eggbox Puzzles:
Eggbox 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!
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 eggbox puzzles, it’s best to supervise your pet carefully when they have access to this puzzle.
Many eggboxes are made of pulp, which makes for a crumbly cardboard. This likely feels quite novel to many dogs and they may investigate this texture with their mouths; it also makes it very easy to eat.
Know your dog! If you have an ingester, eggbox puzzles may not work for you and at the very least, careful supervision will be required.
If you are concerned about your dog ingesting non-food items during puzzling, have a pocketful of HIGH value treats and be ready to toss a couple toward your dog, across their eyeline, if you think they are thinking about eating the puzzle.
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 fasteners, small pieces and plastic pieces. Play safe!
Today’s Eggbox 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: Eggbox Snuffle Feeder
This is your starting point and it builds on puzzling challenges like Busy Boxes.
- place one or two pieces of food in each egg-space
- use as many egg boxes as you have available
- this is a nice, cheap slow feeder, encouraging lots of snuffling and precision to pick up each piece
This might be important to help build confidence in the process and reduce frustration and blind-destruction.
- wrap food and treats and paper
- scrunch it up
- pop each little parcel into an egg-space
Try the Beginners or Intermediate options, and close over the lid loosely.
Option 2 Eggbox Teasers
Add food to each egg-space and top with paper cups, toilet roll tubes, balls, toys, scrunched up balls of paper…anything that fills the gap!
Option 3 Busy Egg Boxes
Add eggbox puzzles to other Busy Boxes for extra fun.
- Add food to each egg-space
- top with paper or more food wrapped in paper
- close over (but not securely shut)
Add stuffed toilet roll tubes or treat parcels and close over the eggbox lid.
Close the eggbox. You can add stuffing or other puzzles to it too.
Option 4 Wrap it!
Construct any of our Beginners, Intermediate or Advanced options, then wrap them up in some paper.
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!