One of the best parts of having a dog as a family member is the pure joy of spoiling them. Treats, toys, walks in new places, or maybe even a “puppuccino” from Starbucks (...yes, this IS a thing! You can even buy your own sugar-free cool whip and make one at home!) Did you know that in providing these new sights, smells, and yummy tastes, you’re also providing valuable enrichment? In addition to mental stimulation and just plain fun, an article by Purdue University states “the purpose of enrichment is to reduce stress in dogs and to reinforce socialization practices. Providing a dog with enrichment allows the animal to have a sense of control over their environment, which can help to reduce and avoid stress. There are 5 types of enrichment possible for dogs in kennels: Social, nutritional, occupational, sensory, and physical.” In the examples we gave above, just by being a pet owner you’re constantly giving your pets enrichment! In this blog, we’re taking the time to take about 10 unique ways to offer enrichment that you might not have thought of!
1. Snuffle Mat
A bit of a silly name with a great purpose! Snuffle mats are made up of fabric materials used to hide treats, food, etc. This design encourages dogs to sniff and scrounge. Since foraging comes naturally, this is sure to keep them entertained! Click here to learn more about snuffle mats!
Photo: Bindi's Bucket List
2. Dig Pit
If you have a dog who LOVES to dig or bury things, here’s an idea for you! The Dog People suggest grabbing a kiddie pool, filling it up with sand, and letting your pup go to town! The American Kennel Club states that “digging can be fun for dogs, making it a great way for them to relieve stress. This stress can be created in several ways, but most active diggers are either very bored or suffer separation anxiety. Dogs left on their own for too long, without ways to remain occupied, will often turn to digging. Dogs with separation anxiety need a way to channel their negative emotions into something productive and can become quite obsessive about digging. Digging provides mental and physical stimulation — something necessary for curbing feelings of boredom and anxiety.”
If you read our previous blog about catnip infused bubbles, we are happy to share that there are bubbles for your dogs, too! Check out this Bubbletastic Bacon Bubble Machine for dogs!
4. Treasure Hunt
You can go on an adventure without ever leaving your house! Encourage your pup to use those problem solving skills by taking treats or toys, and hiding them around your living space (indoor or outdoor)! In an article about enrichment for dogs Purina suggests “simply hide treats or toys in various boxes and encourage your dog to hunt for them.” First, try showing them how it’s done, and then it’s their turn! No boxes? No problem! This article goes on to say “If you don’t have boxes and packaging on hand, try laying a towel folded in half lengthwise on the floor and dropping treats inside as you roll it up. Then let your dog figure out how to unroll it to get the treats.”