Enrichment on a budget!

by Sascha Cox // April 2018

Enrichment On a budget!

At Dog school NI, we are huge fans of enrichment! It’s such a good way to encourage natural doggy behaviours such as foraging, sniffing, chasing AND it helps use some of that energy up – need we say more?!

Below are some DIY methods of enriching your dogs day to day life using household items – some enrichment items for sale can be expensive, so use your recycling!

Toilet roll tubes

Every household has these in the bin – why not let your dog help you with the recycling? Stuff them with treats (or even kibble), close them up and watch your dog have a great time rolling them around and trying to tearing them open. To make it very easy, to begin with, simply cut a few holes in the side so treats or kibble falls out easily at first.

Cardboard Boxes

We all have these in the recycling bin – cereal boxes, delivery boxes etc. Stuff with treats or kibble and add some shredded paper (if you don’t have access to a shredder, you can tear up an old newspaper). Watch your dogs tear up the box and then search through the paper to find their treats. Once they’re done, you can lift it all up and pop it into the recycling bin!

Ice Cube Trays

We all have these lying around – you can mix up some softened kibble and beef/chicken paste or tuna/ Mash it all into the little squares and watch your dog trying to lick all the food out of the tray!

Bonus points: With the weather getting better, soon we will be able to freeze these and use them to cool our dogs down whilst providing them with enrichment.

Plastic bottles

Another staple of the recycling bin – empty fizzy drinks bottles, cordial bottles or milk cartons! Remove the lid, label and plastic ring, then fill with treats or kibble and watch as your dog paws them around trying to get the food out. To make these easy, to begin with, cut little holes in the side and the kibble will fall out with less effort.

Snuffle box

At Dog School NI, we have a fancy plastic snuffle box but these can very easily be made with recycling. Take one cardboard box, fill with shredded paper and drop some treats/kibble into it. Your dog should use their nose to snuffle around in the box and try to find the treats which are great fun for them!

Get the Kids involved!

If you have some time to invest in making enrichment items, a snuffle mat is great fun. It consists of lengths of fleece tied to a mat – which we may have lying in the house, garage or shed! There are plenty of tutorials online to assist in the process of making one and it could be a really fun project for children too!


These are just a few ideas on how to enrich your dog's life using household items – the only limit is our imagination so get creative!

When providing your dog with these items, ensure that they are supervised so you can ensure they aren’t digesting any of the items and so you can help them out if they are struggling to understand how to interact with them! If you are using treats for these, remember to cut down their meal portions or even use these methods to give them their food – ditch the food bowl altogether!

If you are interested in any of our classes, we operate in the Antrim, Belfast and Ballymena areas with a variety of time slots.

Contact us on 07715 654650 or email nidogschool@dogstrust.org.uk 

You can also follow us on Twitter @DogSchoolNI and Instagram  @dogschoolnorthernireland to see for yourself all the fun we have in class!