Dogs can have boundless energy and can become destructive. In my experience, these are the times when I was too busy and slacked on providing proper supervision or not providing them the right amount of physical or mental activity.
The good news is that you don’t have to replace those times with a marathon run. There are plenty forms of “enrichment” that can be provided to decreased stress and boredom, increase a dog's confidence, improve impulse control and keep your dog both mentally and physically healthy.
What is enrichment? The enrichment concept started with wildlife biologists who were trying to improve the lives of zoo animals. Enrichment provides critical benefits to allow confined animals to express natural drives. For most of us, our pups are not “confined” and for the most part we are capable of meeting our dog’s social and emotional needs through being part of our family. Puppies and certain breeds of dog’s just require more than our home environment has to offer and with today’s society and limiting exposure enrichment techniques can be amazing for promoting a well behaved and adjusted pup.
Canine Enrichment? It is a concept that focuses on providing your dog with the chance to use their instinctive mental and physical skills to engage with the environment in an interactive way. This can have huge benefits that include decreased stress and boredom, increased confidence, impulse control and keeps dogs mentally and physically healthy.
While there are so many different types of dog’s with their own personalities, energy levels, likes/dislikes and innate skills there is one thing that remains the same. A dogs sense of smell is so acute! They have a billion more scent receptors in their noses and a larger portion of their brain is devoted to processing scents. Enabling our dog’s to utilize their noses is #1 Top of the List with endless enrichment activity ideas.
Remember their noses have served the purpose to hunt and forage for centuries. When we kick those instincts into high gear and allow the hunt/forage for treats and meals you may see a spring in your dog’s step.
Foraging activities can be as simple as throwing your dog’s treats or kibble on the grass. There are a never-ending amount of food-filled toys, lick mats, puzzle feeders and pup trays on the market. Many of these toys can be filled with regular dry dog food, a mixture of wet and dry food, or entirely wet food in the case of toys like Licki Mats. You can start with just one meal a week as an activity rather than simply from a bowl.
For my DIY friends, there are plenty of safe household items that can be seriously entertaining for our pets. I snip around and fold in the ends of both toilet paper and paper towel roll tubes with a couple dried hearts that offers my dog’s quite a bit of entertainment.
TEACHING - Find it. I love to teach pups “find it”. Hiding dry treats or kibble either indoors or outdoors is another way to engage your pup in a fun activity that they can be successful at.
Forage and find it are great to use in the development of puppies, fearful or high energy dogs. The activities will encourage problem solving, increase self confidence and enable us to teach a chaotic dog self regulation. Some people have success using these types of games and activities as a way to help their dogs during bad weather or when they are not going to be able to get their pup the normal amount of physical activity it needs to settle.
If you’d like to learn more about creating enrichment activities for your dog, feel free to CONTACT US at Before ~N~ After Dog Training to set up your free, 30-minute Discovery Consult! CHECK OUT OUR ON LINE STORE FOR THE BEST ENRICHMENT TOYS.
Have you tried any enrichment activities with your pets?
Did you see any differences in them after you’d started?