I have been doing a lot of pondering lately about the importance of daily enrichment for our pups and how it benefits their health and the results are astounding! I think it’s something that really belongs on this blog and I’m so excited to share this with you guys.
What Is Enrichment For My Dog?
The definition of enrichment is “the process of providing a stimulating environment that allows animal to demonstrate normal behavior, exercise and enhance their well-being.”
This can mean a lot of things, so I want to discuss some options for you!
If your dog is in their kennel while you are away, how can you keep their mind active and them engaged so they don’t grow bored or destructive?
- Music – this is a great one because it is stimulating and keeps the dog engaged in listening to something, but it can also be a great relaxation tool if your dog has separation anxiety or fear of storms. The sound of music (no pun intended) has been known to relax dogs and shut out unwanted noise.
- KONGs – If you haven’t tried a KONG, you haven’t lived! Some people fill theirs with peanut butter, yogurt, treats, etc. This is a fabulous way for dogs to focus on something in a productive fashion and it actually releases serotonins from the continuous licking sensation.
Ways that pets need enrichment are with sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Here are some ideas for everyday activities…
- Sound – Keep up the music! I’ve actually heard of a lot of dogs liking Mozart! Switch it up, play something new every day. Let their minds and ears engage in new sounds!
- Smell – Play nose games! Try hiding treats under blankets, around the house, places they can easily find but have to search for. Put them under a cup next to two empty ones and see if they can find the cup that has the treats in it! It’s a fun game and a great way for them to stretch their scent muscles.
- Sight – This might seem obvious, but walks! Try a new route each day, spice it up. Not only is a new view good for your pup, but its a great bonding experience to experience something new together. It’s also great exercise!
- Touch – Did you know that you would benefit from a massage? It’s been known to release toxins and aches just like humans, but also helps build a stronger bond between owner and pet. It’s also a great way to desensitize them to different parts of the body being touched if needed at the vet’s office!
- Taste – Try a new treat! Make your own! Experiment with a new recipe or KONG filling. Chewing on raw meaty bones is also a great way to keep them busy, work their jaw muscles, and clean those teeth (naturally)! Just make sure you supervise the dog while they do so.
Why Should You Care?
You might be thinking, this all sounds fine and dandy – but does it actually matter? What does this do for my dog?
Enrichment for dogs actually lowers stress, helps with their problem-solving skills, helps them learn to solve problems, and balances their overall emotional and physical well-being leading to a more confident dog.
This is HUGE for vet visits! If we can get our dogs to learn to process stimulations calmly, try new things, and desensitize them to new experiences, we can have less anxiety for vet visits and more confidence in their everyday lives.
How do YOU keep your dogs engaged? Comment below!