Enrichment activities are one way to give your dog a happier, healthier life. If they’re unhappy, or even just bored, this may manifest itself through destructive behaviour, like tearing up the carpets or chewing the sofa. Incorporating enrichment activities into the day-to-day can proactively avoid this and help them live their best lives.
Ways to provide enrichment for your dog
Enrichment can take various forms, ranging from meeting your dog’s physical needs to keeping them entertained. There are various enrichment activities that help keep them physically and mentally stimulated, and there are some activities your dog can even do on their own. This is particularly beneficial if you have to leave them home alone for long periods.
Six dog enrichment ideas
Dogs love to please their owners, and training is a good way to utilise their willingness to learn while keeping them entertained. Whether it’s training them to fetch the mail, give a handshake, or something more advanced like agility training, interacting like this with your dog can strengthen their problem-solving skills and enrich their life.
Keep your dog on their metaphorical toes by giving them plenty of options during playtime and rotating in a different set of toys every so often. For example, if they have a large selection of toys, you could give them half one week and swap them out for the other half next week. But if your dog has a favourite toy, it’s a good idea to make sure that one is included all the time.
Dogs are naturally playful, so introducing games to their routine is a great way to keep them happy. Enrichment activities can be tailored to your dog’s personality and breed. For example, some dogs may respond better to food-oriented games or puzzles, where they use their scenting abilities, while others prefer to retrieve toys or play hide and seek. Take the time to discover what your dog is naturally good at and adapt your approach based on what they enjoy.
Puzzle feeders are a great way to keep your dog entertained and engage their problem-solving abilities. It’s also an effective way to stop them getting bored or destructive if you have to leave them alone. Simply put some of your dog’s favourite treats in a puzzle feeder and see how quickly they can figure out how to get to their snack.
In the wild, dogs are hunters, often chasing prey over terrain that requires them to run, jump, wriggle, and weave. Encouraging them to attempt an obstacle course will bring out their natural instincts. Some examples of obstacles could be tunnels, jumps, or weave poles. If you’re setting up an obstacle course in your garden, items of furniture, logs or plants could all be utilised. This method of enrichment helps keep your dog’s brain engaged and can improve their strength and stamina.
Treat scavenger hunts
A treat-based scavenger hunt taps into your dog’s natural scenting abilities and gives them a puzzle to solve at the same time. Initially, you may need to teach them the ropes by hiding the treats in front of them and then encouraging them to hunt with a command, such as, “Get the treats!” When they’ve got the hang of that, ensure your dog is out of the room when you hide the treats, then bring them in and give the command. Eventually, you should be able to get quite inventive with your hiding places, encouraging your dog to rely fully on their nose.
Why options are important
A variety of enrichment activities ensure your dog has lots of options to alleviate boredom. Finding a selection of puzzles, toys and activities means your dog will get the proper amount of mental and physical stimulation needed to be healthy and happy. You can find more information about training and caring for your dog at the blog.
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