Here’s why a lot of us dog folks collect toilet paper and paper towel rolls. These cardboard tubes are a popular choice for lots of enrichment activities. You can use them in many different ways, so long as your dog doesn’t eat cardboard.
I fold them up in little packets when playing “find it” games with my dogs of all ages. You can also line them up in a box as in the photo below, sprinkle the treats in, and let the dog get the treats out. This works well for dogs who naturally tend to pick things up with their mouths. They learn to remove the tubes one by one so they can eat the kibble out of the bottom of the box. Although Clara, my bigger dog, just kind of roots her snout around in the box until she pushes some tubes out. Some dogs also learn to up-end the box.
You can also just put a bunch of tubes on the floor in a room. You can hide them, put them in patterns, or you can choose to put food in only some of them to make it into a scent game.
I thought using a whole lot of tubes would be fun, but all that bending over ended up being hard on my knees or back. Besides, I sometimes get dizzy after bending over for too long. You can’t just toss them down; the kibble falls out. So I needed to adapt the game. My “senior human” version turned out to be fun for us all. Sure, it’s tame. But even my lively dog Clara enjoyed it.
In addition to our own limitations, as our dogs age, we need to find less intense, miniaturized versions of the games they enjoy. It may not be safe for a senior dog to play vigorous tug, but she may be able to play a more gentle version. Likewise, I wouldn’t send an elderly dog searching the whole house for her breakfast, but it turns out that rolling around cardboard tubes while I’m sitting on the floor with my dogs is quite fun for them.
A real plus to this game that I didn’t anticipate is that my dogs love having me on the floor with them.
I tried to figure out a safe version for those humans for whom getting down to the floor (or the getting up again part) is not an option. I couldn’t work it out, though. Even if you sit on a bed with your dog, for example, there is a risk of the TP rolls rolling off the bed and the dog jumping or falling off going after them. Something like a snuffle mat on the bed would work better if you wanted to sit with your dog.
For hundreds more enrichment ideas, many of them good for senior dogs, check out the canine enrichment Facebook group.
Copyright 2020 Eileen Anderson