Destruction Box: DIY Brain Games for Dogs

destruction box for dogs

If you are looking for a simple, cost-effective way to keep your dog entertained indoors, then a destruction box ( sometimes called a busy box or foraging box) is the activity for you. 

What is a destruction box for dogs?  A cardboard box filled with scrunched up paper, egg boxes and toilet rolls that contain hidden treats. Dogs use their noses and brains to forage for the treats in the box providing food, mental and physical enrichment.

With a year of online shopping under our belts, we have a huge collection of boxes in different shapes and sizes.  You’ll always have a collection of stuff that you can use, pretty much anything from your recycling pile can become a destruction box toy.

Providing food enrichment combined with mental stimulation is a great boredom buster for your dog. Sniffing and brain games will tire them out quicker than a walk and is ideal for puppies and active breeds like Border Collies. 

Problem-solving games like the destruction box can also help prevent other behaviour problems, helping you live a much happier life together.

Amazing indoor nose work games to p... x
Amazing indoor nose work games to play with your dog from Ruffle Snuffle

I like to increase the level challenge and extend the fun by putting smaller boxes inside the main box, egg boxes are great for this. Toilet rolls also make great hiding places for treats in the box too, just fold the ends over the make a treat rattle. 

Bury a stuffable at the bottom of the box for even longer-lasting enrichment.

But be wary that the more difficult you make the challenge, the higher the reward must be. Use super tasty food rewards ( not just kibble) to motivate your dog to explore the box. Frustration is not the aim, so make it very easy to get the treats out from the internal hidden objects.

If your dog likes to eat everything, then have a handful of really super tasty treats to hand so you can distract them if you think they’re about to eat something they shouldn’t.

If your dog just gets stuck in and into destruction mode, this might indicate that the challenge is too difficult, so take it down a notch to calm them down. Make it super easy and then ramp up the difficulty slowly.

It is your responsibility to adjust the Destruction Box so that your dog can use a range of skills to get to the treats quickly. This is how you will improve your dog’s confidence and ability to solve puzzles and expand their abilities.

Enrichment goals

  • to encourage foraging behaviours
  • To help your dog use its brain to develop puzzle-solving behaviours
  • To help your dog develop dexterous skills in manipulating objects
  • To provide cognitive, sensory and environmental enrichment
  • by changing the design of your Destruction Box each time you will help your dog develop different strategies for getting the treats

What you’ll need

Make sure you check everything you use to remove sticky tape, staples, plastic fasteners and other potentially harmful objects from your materials. Here’s a starter list of materials to use:

  • Empty cardboard box
  • Packing paper or newspaper
  • Empty egg boxes
  • Toilet rolls
  • Plastic tray inserts 
  • Tennis Balls
  • Tasty bite-size treats
  • Kong or stuffable
  • Dental Chew or pizzle stick

Don’t use junk mail or shiny leaflets as the coatings may make the paper stick in your dog’s mouth.

Level: Beginner to Advanced
Perfect for: All ages and breeds

destruction box

How to make your dog the ultimate destruction box 

Choose an empty box that is a suitable size for your dog to have a good root around in. Too small and it will all be over too soon, too big and your dog may get frustrated that they can’t get to the bottom.

Top Tip: This game can get messy so place the box in a room that’s easy to clean, like the kitchen.

Beginner Destruction Box – Introducing the game

Level 1

  1. Use an empty box and scatter some treats in the bottom.
  2. Give it to your dog
  3. Tear the lid off if it gets in the way
  4. Change the shape of the box eg wider base, lower side to make it easier to access

Level 2

  1. Use an empty box and scatter some treats in the bottom.
  2. Close the lid loosely ( fold it over)
  3. Give the box to your dog.

Level 3

  1. Use an empty box and scatter some treats in the bottom.
  2. Close the lid tightly 
  3. Give the box to your dog.

Once your dog has got the idea and is enjoying the activity you can introduce other objects into the box to make it harder.

Remember to account for the number of treats in your dog’s daily food intake so that they don’t overindulge.

Level 4 – Intermediate

  1. Take your box, scatter treats at the bottom.
  2. Scrunch up paper balls and place on top of the treats.
  3. Give the box to your dog.

Level 5

4. Now place some treats in folded paper and add to the box.

Level 6

5. Place treats in toilet rolls ( fold over the ends to keep them in) and add them to the box

Now your dog has had some practice with solving different challenges you can move on to the advance level and really make them the ultimate Destruction Box.

Remember that if at any point they are struggling, then you need to go back a level to allow them to learn and solve successfully before moving on. Moving up the levels too quickly can lead to frustration and your dog switching into destroyer mode to try and get the treats.

Don’t put anything too small, sharp, or breakable in the box, which could be a potential choking hazard for your dog. 

Level 7 – Advanced

  1. Fill the box in layers. 
  2. Use plastic tray inserts from biscuit and cake packets. Put a treat in some of the holders. Scrunch up paper balls and cover the treats. Place the tray into bottom of the box.
  3. Cover with shredded paper. Sprinkle a couple of treats on.
  4. Put some treats in your egg box or toilet rolls and put them on next. Cover with more shredded paper and scrunched balls. Sprinkle a couple of treats.
  5. Close the box lid and put it on the floor in the room and call your dog in.

Important: Supervise your dog at all times to make sure that they aren’t swallowing any pieces of paper.

destruction box dolly
You just have to make your dog one of these! A Destruction Box. This is the best DIY Brain Games for Dog idea I've seen for a while #canineenrichment #diydogtoys Click To Tweet