Enrichment allows dogs to perform natural behaviours, provides them the opportunity to exercise control or choice over their environment and enhances well-being.
Try these DIY enrichment activities with your dog at home to provide additional mental, sensory and physical stimulation.
Try dog food puzzles or a Kong. You can fill them with soft treats or kibble, or Google ‘Kong filler ideas’ for inspiration, so your dog has an outlet for natural foraging behaviours. One of our favourites is filling a Kong with canned dog food, a bit of Greek yogurt and a dab peanut butter.
Use empty egg cartons, toilet rolls, cardboard boxes or anything else suitable in your recycling pile to hide food in. Searching for food and problem solving to get to it provides mental stimulation for dogs. Supervise your dogs when they first start doing this so you can help them along if they get stuck and just in case they start any habits you do not want them to develop (like eating plastic!). If you are short of time scatter some food/ treats in the grass and let them sniff away.
Grab a muffin tray and put some kibble and soft treats into it, then cover with balls so your dog learns to remove them to get to the food. It’s one way to slow down fast eaters and to get a dog’s brain activated.
Making frozen dog treats at home is easy and your dog will love licking and working away at them. Try freezing their kibble and water in an ice tray and popping out as needed, or some Greek yogurt with an inserted dog biscuit or liver treat.
Dogs love to sniff! Keeping lavender and rosemary plants can have a calming effect on them. Wheatgrass has lots of nutrients and helps with digestion. Mix dog friendly spices like cinnamon with water in a spray bottle and spray in their environment to provide scent variety.
Depending on what your dog is into, providing a sandpit, a pool filled with balls or with water can provide an outlet for natural behaviours. Some dogs love to retrieve balls from a pool filled with water and balls! Or some love to jump into the pool to cool down in-between play sessions with you.
Interact with your dog through play. Most toys are just not as exciting without you! Give your dog a choice of what toy they would like to play with. If they like tug or soft toys make the toy move away from them so they can use their natural behaviours and senses to follow and chase. Have fun with it!