I believe that providing Enrichment Activities to our dogs is an integral part of dog ownership. Learning about Dog Enrichment will bring many years of joy to both you and your dog.
Family dogs are often left alone during the day, which can lead to under-stimulation, boredom and problem behaviours such as barking, digging, and destructiveness. That’s why enriching your dog’s lives with appropriate activities and toys is essential to ensure their overall well-being.
In simple terms, Dog Enrichment is all about adding experiences to your dog’s environment for improved physical and psychological health.
What Is Dog Enrichment In Practice?
Any stimulus, if it evokes a dog’s interest in a positive way, is an enriching stimulus. Enrichment can include both natural and artificial objects, scents, foods, and different methods of preparing meals.
You can divide most enrichment stimuli into the following groups:
Environmental Enrichment is all about making your dog’s home more interesting by providing opportunities that change or add complexity to the environment.
Feeding Enrichment is the most common technique available to us. By providing food to your dog in different ways, you can encourage your dog’s natural foraging instincts.
If you hide, scatter (Scatter Hunts: Save Your Dog From Boredom), or bury your dog’s food, he is required to investigate, manipulate, and work for it similar to how he would in non-domesticated environments.
Puzzles can be puzzle feeders or manipulation objects that require your dog to solve simple problems to access food, or other rewards.
Sensory Enrichment is all about stimulating your dog’s senses: visual, smell, hearing, touch, and taste encourages your dog to assess his environment.
Training the animals with positive reinforcement or habituation, not only mentally stimulates them, but also helps to create and form a bond between the animal and his/her owner.
Providing Enrichment is about allowing your dog to interact with other animals and humans.
Dog Enrichment – Important to Know
It’s important to know that Dog Enrichment is not a tool to keep your pet busy when they’re alone or to distract them whilst you do other things.
Your dog needs supervision during enrichment activities.
You should ensure that the Enrichment activity is not too difficult for your dog, as this will increase frustration.
If for some reason your dog is stressed, give him an activity that is easy for them. After all, the overall goal is for your dog to have fun and destress, otherwise, it’s not Enrichment.
Note that dogs become familiar quickly with activities that they do daily, so mix up your Enrichment activities. Novelty is key.
If you are after inspiration for DIY dog enrichment ideas and activities, check out my Enrichment page for ideas that cost you little to nothing. I am also working on a Resources Page where I recommend different Enrichment toys that you can buy online.
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I enjoy coming up with creative enrichment ideas for my dogs. DIY & Crafting has always been a big part of my life since I was a child.