Easy Enrichment: Make a DIY Frozen Treasure Game For Your Dog

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Summer is here and with the weather heating up, it's important to keep your dog cool and out of the heat! In addition to staying cool, and giving your dog some fun summer treats, it's important to make sure that dogs get plenty of mental and physical exercise.

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If you're bored with your usual toys and games, a new way to play is to channel your dog's sense of smell through an enriching frozen game. Dogs experience much of the world through their amazing sense of smell. Our dogs have around 220 million olfactory receptors in their nose, while us humans only have around 5 million.

Does your dog enjoy bobbing for ice cubes in their water dish or chasing one across the floor? Many dogs enjoy playing with ice cubes and a fun way to expand upon that activity is to create an enriching frozen treasure hunt for your dog. This activity can get a little messy as dogs discover the treats and toys in the ice, but it's also a great way to keep your dog busy and cool on a hot day.

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Supplies needed:

  • Water
  • Silicone cake pan - any shape/size will work
  • Water-safe toys
  • Dog treats

Optional supplies:

  • Cookie sheet
  • Plastic baby pool
  • Dog-safe meat or vegetable broth
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Step​ ​1:​ Collect all the treats and toys that you want to put into your dog's frozen puzzle. When selecting treats, jerky style treats will generally work better than crunchy/biscuit style treats, as those get soggy and fall apart when freezing. For toys, tennis balls, and hard rubber or water-safe toys that don't absorb water work well for this activity. You can also add small amounts of (dog safe) no-salt-added meat or vegetable broth for flavoring ice.

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Step 2:​ In the silicone baking container, place the toys and treats that you want to freeze and then fill the container with water. Once you have everything in your silicone baking mold carefully put the pan in your freezer. Depending on the size of your freezer, placing the mold on a cookie sheet can help keep everything stable until it freezes.

Step 3:​ Freezing time will depend on your freezer and how large of a silicone baking pan you are using. Once the water inside has completely frozen, you can take it out of the freezer and flip it over onto a cookie sheet and peel off the silicone baking pan so you are left with just the block of ice with treats and toys embedded into it.

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Step 4:​ The ice block of treasure is now ready to share with your dog! This can be a wet and messy toy/activity, so it's best to give it to your dog outside, if possible. You don't need a lot of space, so a small patio or deck can work well for this chilly excavation game.

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On a warm summer day the toy will slowly melt, releasing the toys and treats for your dog to play with. If you have a plastic baby pool for your dog, placing the frozen activity into the empty pool can be a great way to minimize the mess as the ice melts.

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This activity can be especially fun and soothing for puppies who are teething. It's also a great way to give your dog some stimulation and enrichment when it's too hot to go outside on walks. Be sure to always supervise your dog with the frozen ice treat to make sure they aren't getting frustrated or overwhelmed with the activity and are playing safely with all toys.

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