It’s all about perception. As they say, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. I’m not suggesting you empty out your trash cans and let your dog have at it, but I am suggesting we take a look at items that are already destined for recycling and figure out if any of them can be repurposed first.

Boxes Become Play Structures

I was recently cleaning out my garage and found that since more purchasing is being done online, I had more boxes in my house than usual. After glancing at all of them, I realized they offer a treasure trove of entertainment for dogs.

If you have a puppy and they like to chew – let them, especially if it’s on a cardboard box and the activity is supervised. More often than not, puppies enjoy the act of pulling apart and destroying a box, rather than eating it. If your puppy starts to ingest some of the cardboard, take a handful of treats and add them to the pile to redirect your pups attention on to something better to eat. The box can serve as an excellent enrichment toy for a dog. Fill it with different items to investigate, then sprinkle their kibble in it for a self-contained scavenger hunt in a noise box.

See our latest YouTube video here:

Have your puppy explore the box, and if it’s the right size, they might just climb right in! Some boxes can be big enough to take apart to make a tunnel or fort, or a platform in which to walk on. Think of young children and how much fun they can have with a large box, it really can be endless. Multiple boxes equal multiple places your dog can “go settle.” You can use smaller boxes to sniff out special treats (scent work), or as directed locations in which to sit or lie down, or even a new place to drop a toy. There are tons of things to do with a box (really, Google it), all that can enrich your dog’s mind and challenge their body. More training ideas are listed here.

Aluminum Cans Become Fun Noise Makers

Empty aluminum cans can be filled with a handful of dried beans or a few pennies and taped shut. Now you have a noise maker to add to your noise box to teach your dog there is no need to worry about something loud, you still get to eat yummy treats, even if something makes noise.

Newspaper or Envelopes Become “Candy”

Not sure what to do with all those newspaper ads or empty envelopes? Take some treats (preferably soft and smelly) and roll them up in the paper, twisting both ends to secure. Now it looks like a large piece of hard candy or a tootsie roll for your dog to “unwrap”.

Toilet Paper and Paper Towel Rolls Become Stuffed Chew Toys

Let your mind wander about what you can fill cardboard rolls with, maybe pull some soft, fuzzy fabric through them and now you have a chew/tug toy. Lastly, speaking of toys, dogs love empty water bottles or jugs to chase, chew, spin and destroy. It’s especially exciting if the empty container has their dinner in it and they have to figure out how to get the kibble out. Watch your puppy be quite content playing with this item on any smooth surface where the bottle easily moves and spins – total delight!

Once the fun has ended, NOW remember to go recycle the items that have already been repurposed!

Important Note: Every dog is different about the intensity in which they play, hunt or destroy items. All of the above activities should be closely monitored by an adult to ensure that dogs don’t ingest any unsafe particles of products.