Welcome to Day 58 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:
- simple puzzles made with paper
- food based enrichment
- snuffle it, scrunch it, wrap it, stuff it
- 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 puzzles for their pets.
Remember, supervise children in all enrichment activities and interactions with pets.
- Today’s puzzle prep will probably take you about five minutes – having a collection of puzzling stuff is a good idea…it will resemble a pile of rubbish or recycling!
What do you need?
- paper of different types, for example, wrapping paper, kitchen paper, packing paper
- Busy box stuff and assorted puzzle stuff such as cup holds, boxes, eggboxes, tubs, bottles, paper cup
- to encourage a wide range of foraging and exploratory behaviours
- to do more feeding related behaviour than just eating
- to encourage the development of strategies (behaviours) for getting the food
- by varying the design of each 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 get to the food and developing dexterous skills in manipulating the puzzles 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.
Paper puzzles encourage pets to interact with their environment – just the very interaction with the puzzle is encouraging the pet to manipulate their surroundings to get the things they like.
By offering a variety of 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 paper puzzle 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 Paper Puzzles:
When we make puzzles from essentially recyclable material, it allows us lots of puzzling versatility that can be adapted to suit the individual dog and our specific enrichment goals. You are only limited by your imagination!
Paper can make an excellent dissection outlet too, with some dogs, like Decker, just destroying it for the love it, without the need to add food.
No food needed…just dissection, for the love of it! (Link)
What I tend to see, though, when homemade puzzles are given to dogs, is that well-meaning owners 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 these puzzles, it’s best to supervise your pet carefully when they have access to this puzzle.
Know your dog! If you have an ingester, paper puzzles may not work for you and your pet right now.
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!
Option 1: Snuffle it
Paper makes an excellent snuffing material, just added to a box or stuffed in a Busy box.
Foraging Boxes can be a great way to recycle packing material! Link
Boxes with openings, like Easter Egg boxes are great for Busy Boxes stuffed with packing paper!
Option 2 Scrunch it!
Make Paper Treat Parcels by adding food to paper and scrunching it!
- wrap treats in individual paper parcels
Use to make a teaser by adding each parcel to the spaces in an open eggbox, plastic insert, cupholder or muffing pan; hide food underneath them too.
Stack the teasers for extra challenge!
Hide paper treat parcels or scatter them:
Set up a treat parcel sniffing course: line out balls of paper, some with food, some without:
Option 3 Stuff it!
Stuff into tubes, boxes, egg boxes or other puzzles:
Add to a tub and work with the lid on or off:
Stuff those treat parcels into boxes, tubs, tubes, lattice balls:
Option 4 Wrap it
Add paper on the outside to bring a new dimension to any challenge!
Combine paper puzzles with other paper puzzles too to make compound puzzles and really challenge your dog!
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!