Day 92 Winebox Puzzles Pt. 1

Welcome to Day 92 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!

Winebox Puzzles Part 1

At a glance:

  • cardboard wine bottle cardboard carriers make great puzzles…and they hold six bottles of wine…
    (Available from most off-licences and supermarkets.)
  • dress it up or down – a wide variety of puzzling challenges can be developed
  • food and cognitive based enrichment
  • adjusting the difficulty is easy so these are very adaptable 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 puzzles for their pets.
    Remember, supervise children in all enrichment activities and interactions with pets.
  • prepping these 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?

  • a range of food rewards
  • a cardboard wine bottle carrier
  • an open box or tub (if you don’t have a wine box or if your dog isn’t quite ready to stick their head into a winebox)
  • paper such as toilet roll, newspaper, kitchen paper, packing paper
  • balls or other toys
  • muffin pan, small bowls, cardboard cup holder, paper cups
  • Stuffables
  • a variety of puzzling equipment…will often resemble rubbish 😉

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Enrichment Goals:

  • 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 out of  the puzzles
  • to help the dog develop skills in thinking through puzzles
  • to build confidence through learning to manipulate and solve different style puzzles

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 the puzzles to get to the food and developing dexterous skills 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.

These 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 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 winebox 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 Winebox Puzzles:

Winebox puzzles, just like many of our homemade ‘rubbish’ puzzles, 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 are only limited by your imagination!

Simple and easy to set up, these puzzles are great confidence boosters. Sticking their head into something, particularly a narrow space, can be daunting and worrying for lots of dogs.

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.

Make it really easy for your dog by, for example, removing some of the inner cardboard frames or introducing these puzzles in an open box or tub and then gradually add challenge by using narrower boxes or closing over lids.
Let your dog’s comfort guide how quick you make progress.

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.
Many eggboxes and other cardboard bases like cup holders, 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, some 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!

Enrichment Options

Lots of winebox puzzling ideas:

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Suspended winebox puzzles will be coming up in Part 2…

Option 1 Winebox Snuffle Puzzles

Beginners: 

Just add some food rewards to the base of the winebox and allow your dog to work on getting to it.

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Intermediate: 

Add some food to the base and add in a couple of balls or similar toys on top of that. This will encourage the dog to try to move them around, or even remove them, to get to the food.
Start by just adding one or two and build toward filling each space.

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Advanced: 

Cover the food on the bottom of the winebox with paper, pack it into each gap.

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Option 2 Winebox Teasers

I use a silicone muffin pan for teasers so that I can squeeze it into other puzzles easily. But, if you can’t do that, use small bowls or paper cups in each gap in the winebox.

Beginners:

Put the muffin pan into the winebox, upside down. Alternatively, stick a couple of upturned bowls or paper cups in each gap.

Distribute some food rewards around the muffin pan or cups.

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Intermediate:

Make a teaser, in the winebox!

Add a muffin ban and place some food in each space. Top with a ball, a tube or paper balled up.

Place a paper cup or small ball in each gap and add some food. Top with a ball over the food in each one.

Add some food to the bottom of the winebox, and top with a toilet roll tube in each gap.

Advanced:

Turn a small bowl or paper cup upside down in each gap in the winebox, and place a treat under each one.

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Option 3 Compound Winebox Puzzle

Now you get to really use your imagination and expand your dog’s puzzling abilities! Add a different puzzle to each gap in the winebox, or make multiples of the same puzzle and add one to each gap.

You could try:

…or anything you can come up with that your dog will enjoy!

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!