Canine enrichment activities are vital to engaging your dog physically and mentally, and ultimately keep your dog happy and healthy. If you have to stay in your house for an extended period, it’s a good thing to have several short sessions with your dog to keep them mentally stimulated.
When dogs are at home for an extended period of time, or between days of daycare, enrichment activities can be fun for the whole family. The more variation you can provide, including involving all family members, can provide some of the best enrichment for your dog.
Do dogs get bored?
Absolutely! Dogs thrive on routine, but extended periods of minimal mentally stimulating activity can cause boredom. When a dog gets bored they could start doing activities that you may not appreciate like chewing on furniture.
Keeping your dog’s brain active by doing puzzles, nose work, training or do other mentally stimulating activities can potentially help offset the mental aging process.
Isn’t walking my dog an enriching activity?
Yes, but remember that if you take the same route each time, your dog will quickly learn what is coming up and where all the good sniffs are located. One of the easiest things you can do is change your walking route. This will expose them to new sights, sounds, and of course the ever popular sniffs. This can be as easy as taking your route in reverse or taking a left instead of the right. This simple change can make a big difference in their enjoyment.
So how can I do enrichment activities?
First of all, you need to find out what motivates your dog. For many dogs, treats are a big motivator. If you use treats, make sure they are relatively small so you don’t feed them too many. If your dog is motivated by a toy or affection, reward their behavior with the toy or type of affection they love most.
Set up a time to do canine enrichment activities. You don’t need more than 5 to 10 minutes a few times a day. If you are taking a break from working this is a great time to work with them.
What basic activities can I do with my dog?
As most of you have already heard from our team at Oneka Pet Resort, work on the basics, but keep making them harder. If your dog already knows how to sit, then work on the 3D’s with them. Distance, Duration, Distraction. See if you can have them remain sitting when you walk away or have them sit for a longer period of time. The fun one is a distraction. Walk around them when they are sitting, or put a treat in front of them and only let them have it when you release them from a sit.
What other activities can I do with my dog?
While this is not a complete list of enrichment activities, it’s should give you enough to get started.
- Work on the basics (Focus, Sit, Down, Leave It, Etc.)
- Work on new tricks
- Agility activities (Balance, jumping hurdles, etc.)
- Using canine exercise equipment (We use Fit Paws)
- Hide and seek with treats (make them sit, show them the treat, go hide it in another room, then call them to find it. Treat them when they find it/you.)
- Treat Puzzles (can be found online, and retail stores)
- Snuffle Mats
- Stuffed or frozen Kong
- Pick a hand (hold a treat in one hand and see if they can sniff it out)
- Blanket nose work (get a big blanket and hide treats in different layers)
- 3 cup monte (hide a treat under one cup, move them around and have them find it)
- Find the scent (use three or more identical boxes, put a treat in one and see if they can sniff it out)
- Yard treats (only do this in a fenced-in yard. Show your dog a small handful of treats and then throw them into your yard for them to find)
Enrichment activities can be a lot of fun for both you and your dog. It also helps build a stronger bond. Good luck, and let us know how you are doing.