Welcome to Day 85 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!
At a glance:
- simple food puzzles using tubes in various ways
- 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 teasers for their pets.
Remember, supervise children in all enrichment activities and interactions with pets.
- prepping tubes 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
- an open box or tub, egg boxes or cardboard cup holder
- cardboard tubes such as toilet roll tubes, kitchen roll tubes, Pringles or similar tubes
- paper for packing and wrapping
- a dog lead, cord, shoe lace or similar
- 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 tubes
- to help the dog develop skills in thinking through 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 tubes 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.
Tubes 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 tubes 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 tubes 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 Tubes Puzzles:
Tubes 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!
I love to use Toilet Roll Tube Teasers for puppies, as these puzzles allow for great brain stretching. Puppies develop confidence in putting more pressure on the item to move it to reveal the food.
Puppies love to manipulate the tubes and the box, while building confidence and enthusiasm for snuffling between the tubes.
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 tubes puzzles, it’s best to supervise your pet carefully when they have access to this puzzle.
Know your dog! If you have an ingester, some tubes 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!
Option 1 Toilet Roll Tube Teasers
Adjust the difficulty of teasers by using looser or more snugly fitting tubes.
- choose a base such as a box, basket, muffin pan, eggbox, plastic insert, cup holder, small bowls
- scatter food rewards so that every gap is filled and there is a good covering over the base
- add tubes on top, over the food
Using a lower sided, looser base to keep the teaser nice and simple. Use fewer tubes or add in some balls to the teaser to make it easier for the dog to get the idea and learn to move blockers in the teaser to reveal the food rewards.
Tube teasers can come in all shapes and sizes for lots of puzzling fun!
Option 2 Busy Tubes
Beginners: Tube Treat Parcels
Add some treats to a tube and push in the ends to make a neat little treat parcel. You can give them to the dog as-is, or add them to other puzzles such as Busy Boxes and Teasers.
You can wrap some treats in paper and stuff that in the tubes too!
Intermediate: Stuffed Busy Tubes
Fill bigger tubes with balls, paper, and food rewards for fun and brain games.
You might use larger cardboard tubes..:
…or Pringles tubes or similar:
The more you pack the tube, the more challenging it will be for the puzzler.
Advanced: Busy Tube Cracker
Stuff the Busy Tube and wrap in some paper to make a cracker!
Option 3 Suspended Tubes Puzzles
Suspending puzzles always changes the puzzling picture, requiring cognitive adjustment on the part of the dog.
It’s important to work incrementally to help your dog develop skills (behaviours) to solve these puzzles.
Increase or decrease difficulty by lowering and loosening the line, and by working against a wall or surface or have the puzzles freestanding.
- puzzle is suspended at or lower than your pet’s chin height
- the line is looser
- puzzle is suspended against a wall or surface
- puzzle is suspended at or slightly above your pet’s chin height
- the line is tighter
- puzzle is suspended against a walk or surface
- puzzle is suspended at or slightly above your pet’s chin height
- the line is tighter
- puzzle is freestanding
Beginners: Tubes Jumbler
This is a simple introduction to suspended puzzles and jumblers as the food flows fast, with the slightest manipulation. This brings early success and buy-in on the part of the puzzler, so that they will engage with the puzzle and develop strategies to solve suspended puzzles.
Simple puzzles, with quick wins, are the perfect introduction to Suspended Puzzles!
Intermediate: Suspended Stuffed Tubes:
Add some food rewards to paper and scrunch it up. Suspend some cardboard tubes and stuff each one.
Advanced: Activity Food Dispenser
Add a couple of holes to a tube, add food rewards and suspend it!
Free standing tube jumbler:
Option 4 This is how we roll
Using larger rolls such as those from packaging for posters or flooring can offer different challenges and are usually of great interest to dogs.
Chewing them and dissecting them will be attractive to lots of dogs, and helping them learn to manipulate the tube by rolling a favourite ball into the tube for them to find.
Decker plays with a big tube at the start of this clip:
If you can get your hands on a giant cardboard roll, from flooring, for example, they make great food dispensers and items of great interest to dogs:
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!