The Best Dog Enrichment Toy? A Rolled-up Towel and Treats


The Best Dog Enrichment Toy? A Rolled-up Towel and Treats

You’ve probably seen it on TikTok, and it really is that easy (not to mention cheap). By Austin Cannon February 03, 2023 Advertisement Pin FB More Tweet Email Send Text Message Print tan labrador retriever puppy plays tug of war with patterned towel
tan labrador retriever puppy plays tug of war with patterned towel Credit: SolStock / Getty Images

These days, we have seemingly endless options when it comes to enrichment and entertainment for our dogs. Puzzle toys, KONGs, slow feeders, and lick mats top the list, and you really can't go wrong with any of them. 

But they do cost money. Maybe not much, but it's more than the old bath towel you never use anymore. That towel, some dry kibble, and maybe a few treats, are enough to make the perfect boredom-buster for your pup. 

As much as I'd love to take credit for this invention, it's been popular for several years now and you've probably seen it on TikTok.

RELATED: Watch This Dog Dad Entertain His Pup With a Backyard Agility Course


Why does it work? Dogs are happiest when they're sniffing, says Jenna Stregowski, RVT and Daily Paws' pet health and behavior editor. She used to use the towel trick to keep boarded dogs busy and happy.

"Though domesticated dogs are far removed from their ancestors, they've still kept several of their 'wild' instincts," she says. "Food enrichment is a wonderful way to provide mental stimulation and light exercise that mimics instinctive behaviors like sniffing and working for food."

That's great, but I'm still struck at how easy it is. I've done this with the two dogs I see often—an elderly poodle and an, uh, energetic golden retriever—and they both love it. For Riley, the poodle, I roll up a medley of dry kibble, broken-up treats, and small pieces of cheese. (She's 14, so she gets spoiled.) Callie, the golden, gets kibble and broken-up bits of her very smelly treats.  

They enjoy it so much that my loose knot is unraveled in a matter of moments, and even Riley vacuums up all the food after a few minutes. Maybe I need to tie it tighter or freeze it?


(On the other side, if your dog is struggling to solve the towel, you can help or loosen the knot.)

It's easy to make and fun to watch, but you still need to be vigilant, Stregowski says. You don't want your raptor puppy shredding and eating the towel. If he does that, then maybe you go back to the KONG or slow feeder. And be sure not to put too many treats or goodies in there—you don't want to disrupt your dog's diet.   

But if it does work, Stregowski says you can make the towel a daily mealtime event.

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