Most of us have heard of the ‘tried and true’ methods of keeping our canine companion’s lives enriched (kong with peanut butter, tossing a ball, a bone) but did you know that there are many different activities, puzzles and games that can help keep your dog happy, stimulated and having a good time?
What is canine enrichment? Canine enrichment is providing activities that your dog can do to alleviate boredom, stimulate them mentally and physically and provide them with fun activities to enjoy. After all, dogs seem to have very little interest in television, Instagram and Facebook.
A childhood favourite, hide and seek can be a fun and exciting game for both you and your dog. Typically you would play with another human as well. One person will guide the dog to a room or outside while the other person hides. When you are ready, the human brings the dog into your living space and encourages him or her to find you. You can give hints such as calling your dog’s name or making noises, squeaky toys, whatever you like. Your dog will quickly pick up on this game and have a great time seeking out you or a human friend in your home.
Another game you can try is to hide treats in your living space (on the couch, in front of the coffee table, etc.) and encourage your dog to sniff and seek them out. Dogs (especially food-motivated dogs) love this game. It gives their brains and noses a workout and rewards them with food!
First up is a flirt pole — borrowing from a feline pole toy, a flirt pole is a long pole with a lure attached to it. Flirt poles are wonderful for people who have limited mobility as they offer a way to exercise your dog without requiring a lot of movement.
Snuffle mats are all the rage these days. What is a snuffle mat you ask? It is a rubber matt that has fabric pieces attached to it. Treats are hidden in the fabric, and your dog must sniff and search for them. It is a great puzzle to give your dog during times that you need to keep him quiet (e.g. after surgery, on a hot day when walking is not possible). There are many DIY options on sites such as Pinterest, or you can buy a snuffle mat virtually anywhere.
Do you have a digger on your hands? Do you want her to leave your garden alone? A lot of dogs enjoy digging as a form of mental stimulation and to relieve boredom and stress. You can create a digging zone in your yard by way of a sandbox or a designated area (so many possibilities) so that your dog can enjoy her favourite activity. The bonus here is that you can hide your dog’s toys and treats, allowing them to search and dig for them!
For the budget-conscious among us, I would like to mention that enrichment doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Simple things like walks, car rides and visits with your dogs’ fav people can provide all of the fun your dog is craving. The biggest enrichment your dog gets is from spending quality time with you.
Written by: Shannon, CCR