3 Easy Dog Enrichment Ideas – Dogster

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Enrichment means meeting the needs of an animal. It’s less about keeping a dog busy or tiring it out and more about encouraging, enabling, and empowering it to engage in species-specific behaviors. It keeps dogs emotionally, mentally and physically healthy and helps alleviate and prevent behavioral issues.

Truly rewarding activities result in positive, observable, and measurable behavior change. Let’s say your dog goes crazy for deliveries. But on days when he has had a sniffari beforehand, he only barks for one minute instead of three. Or on the mornings when you disperse to feed his breakfast, he’s much calmer and goes to bed instead of pacing when you leave for work. Let’s review three simple dog enrichment ideas that will have a positive impact on your pup.

Dog Enrichment Idea 1: Scatter Feeding

Meals are essential, so why not make them rewarding? Scatter feeding is a very simple way to tap into your dog’s innate desire for food. It works best with kibble, but you can substitute other low-calorie dry foods like Cheerios to mix it up.

  • Measure your dog’s meal and take him outside.
  • Start small. Sprinkle the food in a 2-foot area, encouraging your dog to search the landscape for food.
  • Gradually increase the dusting space to cover as large an area as possible.
For an easy DIY dog enrichment toy, tear introductory strips from newspaper and crumple them up. Scatter your dog’s treats or kibble on the pieces of newspaper on the floor. Your dog will start searching for his food using his brain and nose. © Rachel Brix

If you’re feeding for free, scatter feeding probably won’t work. One more reason not to feed your dog for free!

You can also do this indoors using snuff mats, blankets, or even newspaper if your dog won’t eat inedible food.

And don’t worry, scatter food doesn’t mean your dog will eat everything he finds outside.

Dog Enrichment Idea 2: Sniffing Rice

Dogs’ noses are their superpower. A short sniffing walk, or sniffari, can do wonders for your dog’s mental state. Sniffing releases dopamine, the “feel good” chemical in the brain and encourages calm. Walk wherever your dog’s nose takes you even if it means investigating the same spot for several minutes. Use a long leash so your dog can feel free to explore. And change it up: walk your dog to different places, take different routes, and encourage off-the-beaten-track experiences where new smells abound.

Dog Enrichment Idea 3: Digging

Yes, you should encourage your dog to dig! Digging is a species-specific behavior that we unfortunately tend to punish rather than encourage. And by providing it with suitable places to dig, it is much less likely to disturb your garden!

dog digging
Encourage your dog to dig by creating a sandbox or using a plastic baby pool, filling it with sand and hiding toys in it. This dog enrichment idea helps keep your dog from digging in the yard. © Rachel Brix
  • Build or purchase a sandbox and set it up in a shady spot. Kiddie pools also make great sandpits.
  • Most dogs don’t need a lot of encouragement to start pawing on the soft sand, but you can always bury some treats or a favorite toy to get things moving.
  • Mark/click when your dog digs.
  • If he tries to dig somewhere else in the yard, use a positive interrupt (such as “oops!”, “sorry,” or “too bad”) and gently lure him to his sandbox with a treat.
  • You may need to repeat this several times, especially if your dog was already tearing up the grass.

Enrichment must also be sustainable for humans over the long term. Figuring out what’s beneficial for your dog can take some time, but once you have a repertoire of activities that benefit your dog, you can easily provide at least a few quick opportunities each day that suit both your job. your dog’s time and needs.

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