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When you have an uber-smart, extra motivated, full of energy dog, you do anything you can to keep them busy.

Exercise is key and we get as much as we can, but we also live in one of the rainiest places around, in a rainforest. I work full time. Felix has a bum knee. Some days Kol has the energy of a toddler who has been mainlining pixie sticks and sucking back red bulls like they’re apple juice.

So how do you keep a dog busy when you can’t go out and play?

Treat toys are the secret to our success.

Koly and Fe have any number of toys designed to make them work for a snack or two. We use stuffed Kongs, a Dogzilla Steggin’ Egg, A Nina Ottosan Dog Casino, a Spinny, Canine Genius toys, a Tug a Jug, a Planet Dog Mazee…the list is endless. We have a small fortune in puzzle toys at our house, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Particularly when you have a clever dog that solves puzzles quickly, DIY can be your best friend.

DIY Treat Toys to Keep Your Dog Busy

There are so many puzzle dog toys you can make at home with just a little creativity. Keep in mind that you know your dog best. Always supervise carefully when using puzzle toys and be sure that the materials you use to make your toys are sturdy enough to stand up to your dog. What works for my dogs, may not be a great choice for all dogs.


1. Muffin Tin Puzzle by Liz Palika | Connect By Pets (Click here to see the tutorial)

Photo Credit: Liz Palika | Connected by Pets

This one is deceivingly simple. While it’s quick to assemble and easy to hide treats, it’s actually fairly difficult to solve as the dog has to lift each ball out of the tin to win. Pawing at the balls just spins them. Pro Tip: If your dog is clever like Felix, he may cotton onto the fact that the easiest way to solve the puzzle is by flipping the whole tin over, so hold onto it for them.

You can even make this puzzle tougher by combining it with the next DIY Toy.

2. Modified Tennis Ball Treat Ball by Romp Rescue Click here to see the tutorial)

Photo Credit: Romp Rescue

This one is so versatile because you can make it easier or harder by changing how you cut the ball. For example, a series of 1/2″ holes in the ball might make a very easy toy, where and “X” shaped opening might be tougher.

3. Plastic Jar Treat Toy by Welsh Stump (click here to see the tutorial)

Photo Credit: Welsh Stump

How simple! Just take a plastic jar and cut a few holes in the sides. Make the holes larger or smaller, depending on how hard you want it to be. As your dog get great at solving it, you can add challenge by filling it with tubes or balls to make it more difficult.


4. Spinner Bottle Dog Toy by Raising Cinder (Click here to see the tutorial)

Photo Credit: Raising Cinder

I’m kind of in love with this one and it’s totally on my list of things to DIY up. Not only does it look like so much fun, I can see a lot of opportunities to make it easier/harder by using different bottles/jars and obstacles in them.

Does you dog have treat toys? What do you love about them? Have you ever made one yourself?


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