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Bored not BAD - Environmental Enrichment Ideas

A dog that is bored will entertain themselves with what ever is in their environment. We can predict that a puppy or new dog is going to explore their environment in our absence. If we don't provide them postive acceptable outlets or teach them what they can entertain themselves with then we are setting our pups up for failure. By anticipating our dogs needs we can save ourselves baseboards, furniture and all the other things a pup may destroy when left to their own devices.

Here are some of the major environmental enrichment ideas I provide to families that are physically and mentally entertaining for your dog.

1. Playing - soft toys, squeaky toys, ropes, balls, frisbees (the variety available is almost limitless). These can either be toys that the dog plays with by himself, or toys that require you to interact with your dog. Interactive toys include balls, frisbees and tug toys. Even though toys are designed for dogs.. many need supervision so before you leave them alone know what your pup is capable of and keep em safe.

Save your shoes and think about these options:

  • Objects for chewing - bones & chews.

Activity foods - foods which either take a long time to eat, or which require your dog to work out how to get the food.

  • A stuffed Kong can be used as a toy for playing or fetching, or be stuffed with a variety of food or treats which your dog has to work at to remove (dry food can be mixed with a little peanut butter or soft cheese to help it stick together).

  • Freezing a bone in the middle of an ice cream container of water to make a giant frozen ice block (to get to the bone your dog must either chew up the ice or wait for the ice block to melt).

  • Freezing meat broth or soup.

Food dispensing toys such as a treat ball (a ball with a small hole where dry treats drop out when your dog rolls the ball around) - hiding treats around the backyard and let your dog go hunting for them.

  • Wrapping treats in a box of toys or in an old t-shirts and let your dog have fun unwrapping the treat or scavanging in a box or on the floor.

  • Water for playing - Provide a shallow wading pool for your dog to splash and play in. Stick a toy in water then throw it in the freezer.

Viewing platform - Build a viewing platform in the middle of your backyard so that your dog can see what is happening in the neighborhood. Your neighbors may provide him with hours of entertainment!

Play equipment - Play fun games with your dog – have him jump through a tire tied to a tree branch; walk along a plank raised up off the ground; jump over poles raised off the ground; weave through a row of tomato stakes hammered into the ground. Make tunnels either above or below ground for your dog to run through and/or lie in.

Dog's love music - It can put them in a state of relaxation and muffle the external noises in the neighborhook. You can either leave the radio on for your dog, or play calming music if your dog is stressed when left alone (Vivaldi, Mozart, etc.) I have Youtube Prime so I play MHZ music or 8 hour music for dogs. My pups love it!

We have to think about the fact that our dog's require Companionship- Spend time with your dog. Include him in your family’s activities (being isolated away from his family can be punishment to a dog); if he is well socialized around certain dogs be sure to have play dates as well as do fun training drills with his buddies.

In some cases, getting another dog may be an appropriate way to provide your dog with extra companionship.

• Exercise- Take your dog for regular walks, take him swimming, take him to different places and try to find the opportunity for your pup to run free and explore.

If you struggle with your dog off lead you can do "Proximity Training" with a 30 Foot lead (read Proximity training handout). ***You can also ask me about specific activities that are in line with your dog’s instinctive nature… as well as read "What Motivates My Dog" to really figure out the easiest way to get your pup happy, engaged and working out their need for added attention, activity, love and care.


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