What is canine enrichment? Well, according to ASPCA, canine enrichment is “additions to an animal’s environment with which the animal voluntarily interacts and, as a result, experience improved physical and/or psychological health.” In short, anything fun that a dog plays with and engages their brain. Enrichment activities:
- Satisfy the basic instinct to forage
- Provide an energy outlet when you are too busy or the weather is too hot/cold/rainy to go on walks and outdoor exercise
- Avoid boredom when your dog is recovering from injury or illness, or has limited mobility
- May improve some behavior issues by helping to relieve stress and anxiety
You’re probably wondering, “Well, how can I provide this awesome enrichment for my dog?” Here are 5 enrichment activities and games for you and your dog.
- Snuffle Mats – A snuffle mat is basically a rubber mat with lots of fabric strips (usually fleece) tied to it. They’re designed to mimic grass, and they’re used to give your dog a fun yet challenging way to sniff out food and treats. They encourage your dog to use their natural sniffing and scavenging abilities, and they’re a fun way to have your dog work for their food.
- Puzzle Toys – I love puzzle toys because they give my dog a chance to use some of her natural problem solving abilities. Watching her enthusiasm as she figures out how to solve it is contagious; I think I enjoy it just as much as she does.
- Flirt Pole (Stick) – Flirt poles let your dog use some of their natural instinct to chase in a non destructive manner. And they’re great for those of us who have a hard time keeping up with our high energy dogs — it’s an activity where your dog does all the hard work. Your dog will be running around like crazy trying to get that lure while you have the easy job of just moving the pole around.
- Nose Work Games – One of the easiest ways to give your dog some more enrichment is by letting them do one of the things they do best — sniff. Your dog’s sense of smell is what helps keep them up to date on what’s going on in the neighborhood, and it’s a big part of how they explore the world around them.
- DIY Obstacle Course – Teaching your dog something new, such as jumping over a pole or weaving through an obstacle is quite a mental workout for them. And the best part of it is you can do these activities at home — including some mini obstacles in your living room.
Canine enrichment can be as simple as letting your dog sniff everything they see on their walks. There are many ways to engage and entertain your dog brain and it’s just as important as physical exercise! Happy Dog, Happy Life!
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