When you don’t have a lot of time or the weather isn’t nice, enrichment activities are a great way to keep your dog active but mentally active.
The enrichment activities listed below are all extremely straightforward, require little preparation time, and make use of household supplies.
These games will keep your dog busy just as much as a walk will, if not more so. Your dog will enjoy them.
This is because mental work is exhausting!Because of this, a planned walk wears out your dog more quickly than an hour-long stroll.
Will Enrichment Games Promote Destructive Behavior?
They should not, but they can.They ought to accomplish the opposite.
However, if you have not established boundaries and structure at home, your dog may become aggressive or destructive when they see the enrichment activity in a setting other than play.
For instance, since my dog believes that each cardboard box is for him, I must inform him whenever I receive one that we are not currently playing.
Sitka will ignore the cardboard boxes I leave out for recycling.He now knows that I can start the play and we can play with them.
If your dog is getting excited every time they see a toy, putting the toys away after they have been used is the easiest way to stop destructive behavior.That denotes the end of playtime.
Why is mental stimulation important to dogs?
Dogs need to be physically active as well as mentally active.
How often have you heard a dog owner make a joke about how they need to run their dog 10 miles every day to get them tired?
They are merely producing an endurance athlete.That’s what you want if, like me, you’re an ultrarunner.You need to become one if you don’t want to keep up with your dog.
In addition to preventing boredom and destructive behaviors like incessant barking and chewing on things they shouldn’t, mental stimulation is more exhausting than physical activity.
Compare driving on a sunny day to driving in the snow.By the time you reach your destination, even a short drive in the snow will drain your mental energy.
What exactly qualifies as mental stimulation?The following are a few additional enrichment activities that you can incorporate into your daily routine:
• Place training
• Loose leash walking
• Brain games
• Impulse control exercises
• Basic training
Easy Dog Enrichment Activities
All of the activities listed below can be set up in a matter of minutes using things you probably already have at home.You will only need your dog’s food, not the item.
When you first start playing these games with your dog, take it easy the first few times until your dog gets the idea.Once they understand it, you can increase the difficulty.
When I don’t have time to work on new tricks or training drills, this is one of my go-to enrichment activities for my dog when I want him to work for his food.
Lay a bath towel flat on the floor.Sprinkle a few handfuls of your dog’s food all over the towel.After that, let your dog have at it by rolling it up, folding it at random, or even just squeezing it into a ball.
Do you want to make it more difficult?How to do it:
- After adding more treats, fold the towel in half lengthwise, then roll it up from the short end.
- With the towel fully open, twist from the center until you have twisted the entire towel, adding more treats to the crevices.
- Fold and twist the towel several times, adding more treats to each fold and twist. Tie it into a knot (this is the most advanced method).
Muffin Tin and tennis balls
This activity for enrichment couldn’t be simpler!
Simply fill a muffin pan with food and cover each compartment with tennis balls.You can use smaller balls that your dog must physically remove from the compartment to increase the difficulty.
Paper can also be used to pack food into each compartment by being crumpled up.
Hide and Seek
Hide and Seek is a great game to play on vacation or in a hotel room.It’s a lot of fun and easy!
It puts their nose to the test and serves as an exercise in impulse control.
Find your dog’s food and hide it in five to ten different places around the room in small piles.I like to play this game several times so that each pile only has a few pieces in it.
Put them in a place or make them lie down while you hide their food.When you’re just starting out, it’s fine if they watch you.
Use a cue like “find it!” to release them after you’ve hidden all of their food.and observe them as they sniff their meal.
If they get stuck, it’s alright to assist them.If you stand close to the area where the food is hidden, you can tap the ground there.
When I play “hot or cold” with my dog sometimes, he seems to know that I’m near when I say “hot, hot, hot!”
If your dog is having trouble understanding the game, hide the food in very visible places, like the ground, so that it is hard for him to find.You can start hiding the food in more unusual places once they get the idea.
Some of my favorite hiding spots are as follows:
- Inside my shoe.
- Behind doors.
- under rugs.
- On shelves.
- On chair cross bars.
Cardboard Box Game
Another favorite dog enrichment activity is this one.I save larger boxes and any paper packaging materials for this very activity because my dog receives a lot of packages.
This enrichment activity is so easy to do. Are you Ready?
Take the box, add a few pieces of your dog’s food to it, seal it so it won’t open on its own, and let your dog have fun!
This game is advantageous because it not only serves as scentwork but also provides dogs with a safe place to tear and tear.Sitka will simply tear up the cardboard for several minutes after he has removed all of the treats.
I love taking big pieces and playing games with Sitka to help him rip and tear each one for this part.Simply pay attention to your fingers!
Although it is messy to clean up afterward, the enjoyment your dog receives from this enrichment activity is well worth the effort.
- There are no end of ways to enliven cardboard boxes.Some additional creative outlets include:
- Put paper in the box and crumple it up so your dog has to look around.
- Add water bottles, treats, and treat dispensing toys to the box.
- Place an egg carton or towel inside the box.
- Place multiple boxes inside the box.
Water Bottle Treat Dispenser
If you drink bottled water, keep those bottles and use them as a fun DIY enrichment activity.
Simply fill them up with some of your dog’s food, seal the lid, and let your dog have at it.
If your dog’s food is on the larger side, you can leave the bottle unsealed and then it becomes a treat dispensing toy. You can also use an exacto knife to cut holes in the sides of the water bottle.