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Search & Destroy!

  • Heidi

Shaking Up Mealtime

Sometimes, the winter months can feel long, even if you and your dog love spending time outdoors. But what if we told you that you can shake things up when cabin fever sets in, and it doesn’t take a big budget or huge time commitment? In fact, you probably have exactly what you need already – a discarded container, your dog’s kibble, and their nose!

We’ve talked about the importance of mental enrichment activities for dogs in the past. But did you know there’s a fun twist you can make part of mealtime? Just take portions of your dog’s kibble and put them in containers. Then, let the fun begin!

One of our favorite ways to play this game with our dog involves empty toilet paper tubes. Close up one end of the tube by bending the cardboard inward, add some kibble, and then close the other end the same way. Voila! You have the perfect “treat” to hide.

At our house, we ask our dog to sit, show him the tube with kibble, and encourage him to give it a good sniff. Then, we ask him to “Wait” while we go hide the tube. When we’re ready, we release him to “SEARCH!” and he’s off to the races. Once he finds the tube, he works to tear it open, which makes a small mess but adds to his fun, so we think it’s worth a minute of cleanup afterward. We often save up our toilet paper and paper towel tubes so we can hide more than one at a time.

To set your dog up for success, make the tubes easy to find at first. This helps them understand the game. Once they do, you can start making it harder – even rolling the tube up in an old towel or blanket! When the weather improves, you can head outdoors to play and hide things in the yard!

Worried your dog will eat the toilet paper tube? You can still play this game with chew-proof food containers, like Kong’s, Pupsicles, and treat balls, or hide their kibble without any containers at all.

The possibilities with this game are endless since it’s a great way to incorporate training exercises with mental stimulation. It’s also a great gateway exercise for nose work if your dog loves sniffing things out! And this game comes with an added bonus. Research shows that giving dogs the opportunity to use their nose and exercise choice can improve their well-being.

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