Enrichment

Meeting your dog’s needs, so that they don’t get into trouble.

When we think about what is natural, healthy behaviors and lifestyles for domestic dogs we don’t think of hanging out inside all day, staring out the window all day.     While some owners think of their dogs as lazy the truth is it’s very rare for a dog to be what we consider lazy. Dogs have been developed to be masters at conserving energy, so that on those long cattle drives or days hunting birds with their handlers they don’t get burned out or use to many precious calories.  In the animal world efficiency is the name of the game.   What is true is that a little yard time and hanging out indoors all the time rarely satisfies the needs of any adolescent dog regardless of breed. 

Did you know?  Village Dogs (domestic dogs in other countries that roam) are documented spending over 80 percent of their waking day scavenging for food.  Scavenging for food requires problem solving, physical activity and an outlet for natural instincts like chewing and digging.  Many people think of chewing and digging as a nuisance behavior, but it’s completely normal and necessary for dogs to be doing these behaviors… that’s why we need to do enrichment.

What is enrichment?  Enrichment can be things that stimulate your dog’s brain, body, and senses.  Really good enrichment lets your dog use his natural instincts and put them to good use.

My dog has tons of toys and doesn’t play with them? Well yes, I’m sure he does have lots of toys after all we know you love your dog… But how often do you hear the kids complain I’m bored there is nothing to do even though they have a room full of toys? 

A solution to this:  Try picking up all of your toys and putting them into 3 different baskets.  Rotate through the toy baskets each week. Giving them only one basket.  This will keep the toys “new” to your dog and prevent them from getting bored of them… Don’t forget to check the backyard for their toys too.

How often should I provide enrichment to my dog?  As often as you can, but at least three times a day.  You should always give your dog a new enrichment item before you leave the house for a day of work.  Six to ten hours is a long time for your pet to go without any enrichment.

How can I offer my dog enrichment?  It doesn’t have to be expensive in fact it can even be free.

Free enrichment

  • TP rolls stuffed into a box
  • TP rolls with food in them
  • Card board box games
  • Muffin Tin Game- put their meal in it add water and freeze OR put treat under tennis balls
  • Scatter feeding – zoos commonly use this for their animals and lets your dog use his natural instincts
  • Walking – dog to strong, practice leash training indoors first still counts as enrichment
  • Find it- scavenger hunt for hidden treats and bones OR hide their favorite toy
  • Paper bag- put their measured meal in there and freeze
  • Water bottle- put some treats inside makes a fantastic toy

Store Bought Fun

  • Treat puzzle – they have different types too
  • Stuffing toys into other toys
  • Rubber Kong- when meals are solely fed out of stuffed and frozen kongs reduces barking by 80 percent.
  • Kong Wobbler- my personal favorite, easy to fill meal chasing
  • Upside down no slip bowl- fill with meal add water and freeze over night
  • Raw Bones- Always go one size up for safety.  Feed frozen!  This normally can give 2-3 hours of enrichment
  • Snuffle mat- a fluffy mat that you hide treats and meals in
  • Chew bones- pig ears ect
  • Dog walker- Too busy to walk your dog than a dog walker 1-2 times a week maybe the solution.
  • Walk and train- Even better than a dog walker a walk and train comes to your house and does 10 minutes of training, walks your dog for 30 minutes and gives your dog 10 more minutes of training for a fully packed enrichment session.  Your dog will get exercise while gaining important manners.
  • Treat puzzle – they have different types too
  • Stuffing toys into other toys
  • Rubber Kong- when meals are solely fed out of stuffed and frozen kongs reduces barking by 80 percent.
  • Kong Wobbler- my personal favorite, easy to fill meal chasing
  • Upside down no slip bowl- fill with meal add water and freeze over night
  • Raw Bones- Always go one size up for safety.  Feed frozen!  This normally can give 2-3 hours of enrichment
  • Snuffle mat- a fluffy mat that you hide treats and meals in
  • Chew bones- pig ears, bully sticks ect
  • Flirt pole- Like cross fit for dogs you can’t beat this form of exercise for dogs with dog that have prey drive.  (Often times seen in dogs like border collies, German shepherds and pitbulls.

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