Welcome to Day 29 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:
- snuffling puzzles that challenge noses and brains
- food based enrichment
- doesn’t need to be a blanket; you can use towels, sheets, duvets, dog beds, clothing
Best to use old blankets as there may be damage as your dog works through these puzzles.
- 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 blanket snuffle puzzles for their pets.
Remember, supervise children in all enrichment activities and interactions with pets.
- Prepping these puzzles is really quick and then your dog does all the work!
What do you need?
- blankets, towels of different sizes and types, face cloths & tea towels, mats, sheets, dog beds, clothing…lots of options…in one of today’s clips you will see me use some of Decker’s bandannas!
- boxes, tubs, buckets, (plant) pots
- a range of toys and food rewards
- to encourage a wide range of foraging and exploratory behaviours
- to do more feeding related behaviour than eating; we can use toys in these ones too, but the foraging behaviour is still feeding related behaviour
- to encourage the development of strategies (behaviours) for getting the food out of the blankests
- by carefully varying the design and adjusting the difficulty, 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 get to the food and developing dexterous skills in manipulating the blankets are examples of cognitive challenge.
I set up these puzzles in front of the dog, where possible, so they can see me putting the rewards in and under the blanket. Cognition research has demonstrated that dogs are capable of object permanence, meaning that they understand that an item or individual continues to exist, even when it can’t be perceived.
So, hiding a ball out of sight, for your dog is not like playing peek-a-boo with a baby…your dog knows the ball is in there to be found where as the baby may not!
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.
Blanket snuffle puzzles encourage pets to interact with their environment – just the very interaction with the blanket is encouraging the pet to manipulate their surroundings, to get the things they like.
By offering a variety of blanket snuffle puzzles, we can 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 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 or toys to motivate exploration and experimentation and make it VERY easy to get the reward (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 Blankets Snuffle Puzzles:
Blanket snuffle puzzles are simple and straight forward, but no matter how much practice your pet gets with these puzzles, they are always challenging because the blanket will always fall in random ways, adding to the challenge for your pet.
These puzzles are truly adaptable – there really is no limit to how they can be adapted to suit different puzzling levels. But, they are also incredibly simple so can be used when very little equipment is available, and when space and time are tight.
I love to use these puzzles when waiting around with a dog, for example at seminars, classes and workshops. Keeps ’em busy and engaged, and prevents boredom and frustration.
Because of the home made nature and variable materials used in these, it’s best to supervise your pet carefully when they have access to this puzzle.
Know your dog!
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.
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 something they shouldn’t.
Check all your equipment for this challenge carefully and make sure there’s nothing that your pet will be able to detach, swallow or get injured on. Play safe!
As usual, we are bringing you and your pet through different levels of challenge so that you can introduce them to the puzzle and so that they have time to develop the behaviours required to solve it while avoiding frustration.
Option 1: Things in Blankets
This is your starting point so as to allow your dog to find their feet (paws?) with these challenges; important to help build confidence in the process and reduce frustration and blind-destruction.
Beginners: Things Under a Blanket
- place some food rewards on the floor
- cover with the blanket, loosely
Let your dog find it and watch for the types of behaviour used to get to the reward.
Intermediate: Treat Blanket
- scatter some food rewards on a flat blanket
- cover them over and swirl the blanket so that everything is mixed and messed up
Advanced: Blanket Roll Up
- scatter some food rewards on a flat blanket
- roll it up like a Swiss Roll
Roll-Ups will feature more later during the 100 days too!
Decker would much prefer solve roll-ups this way:
Option 2: Other Things in Blankets
Ball in a Blanket
Try the Beginners, Intermediate, or Advanced options with a ball under or in the blanket.
Stuffable in a Blanket
Try the Beginners, Intermediate, or Advanced options with a Stuffable under or in the blanket.
Option 3 Things in Blankets in Things
Once your dog gets the game, add an extra level of challenge to your Advanced options.
Things in Blankets in Tubs
Add some food rewards to a smaller blanket, tea towel, face cloth, or, like in this video, some dog bandannas.
You can have just one or more and swirl and mess them about, in the tub, so that the food rewards get well mixed up.
Things in Blankets in Buckets
Use a larger blanket, towel, duvet or sheet. Add food rewards, a toy or Stuffable and mix the whole lot up in a bucket, tub, box or plant pot.
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!