Easy DIY Enrichment for Dogs
Dogs are social and intelligent creatures who need mental simulation just as much as physical exercise! It’s up to us to provide them with fun, safe and suitable activities that helps them exercise their minds, as well as their bodies.
Enrichment can be anything from a puzzle game to taking a slightly different route while on a walk, or even just having some training time. It’s any activity that allows dogs to explore their natural instincts such a sniffing, searching, problem-solving or agility. By providing dogs with enriching activities, we can prevent boredom, boost confidence, manage energy, encourage calmer behaviour and help them learn good habits!
We recommend giving your dog at least one enriching activity to do during their day and try to provide some variety in the activities, to keep them interesting. Enrichment doesn’t have to be expensive, we can often find lots of items at home that we can create enrichment games from.
Here are Seven days of DIY enrichment activities you can do with your dog this week:
Activity - Scatter Feeding
Items needed – Smalls treats such as some kibble or chopped apple pieces/carrots.
How to play – This can be done at home if you have a garden or in a grassy area while out on a walk. All you need to do is scatter a handful of your chosen treats in the grass and let your dogs sniff them out and enjoy them. This allows them to practice their natural instincts of sniffing and searching, while also enjoying some tasty treats! Don’t forget to deduct any additional treats you give them, from their regular meals to avoid overfeeding them.
Activity – Towel Treats
Items needed – On old towel or t-shirt with the elastic removed, smalls treats such as some kibble or chopped apple pieces/carrots.
How to play - Sprinkle some treats on the towel or t-shirt and roll it up. Let your dog work it out! For more determined dogs, try ripping the fabric into strips and plaiting it with the treats hidden in the plaits. Always remember to supervise your dog during activities like this and don’t be afraid to give them a little helping hand if they get stuck.
Activity – Walk this Way
Items needed – Just your regular items for going on a walk like their lead, collar and harness, poo bags, water and treats.
How to play – This might be the simplest one yet. All you do for this activity is allow your dog to choose the walking route! Take a little extra time to let them sniff and really choose the very best place to pee. Be patient with them; it’s a big decision!
Activity – Muffin Tin Munchies
Items needed – A muffin tin, tennis balls or balled up socks, some treats or kibble.
How to play - Sprinkle kibble/treats into the tin, cover with balls or balled up socks and let your dog figure it out. You can of course help them if they get stuck.
Activity – Cardboard Box Bonanza
Items needed - Cardboard boxes of different sizes with tape and staples removed, kibble/dog treats, old wrapping or packing paper.
How to play - Sprinkle the treats inside the box and loosely close it over, then add more treats to a bigger box and put the smaller box inside. Add scrunched-up paper if you have it.
For dogs who haven’t done this before, start off with one box and progress to more as they easily find the treats. For dogs who love this game, the sky’s the limit. You can add egg cartons, paper bags, more boxes – anything to build more fun!
Activity – Snuffle Mat Magic
Items needed - An old, clean, fluffy rug or bathmat, dry treats or kibble. If you have some extra time, you can make your own snuffle mat.
How to play - Hide the treats in the mat and let your dog snuffle them out!
Activity – Cuddle and Chill Time
Items needed – A comfy place to sit.
How to play – This is a perfect lazy Sunday activity. Sit down somewhere comfy and see if your dog wants to come over to you for a cuddle session, whether that’s on the couch or even on the floor. Always make sure your dog has space to move away if they prefer and remember you should never pet them while they’re in their bed – that’s a space that’s just for them. While some dogs love attention and affection, it’s important to remember that not all dogs do, or they might just not feel like it at the time. That’s why it’s important for us to understand a dog’s body language.
Click here for more information about enrichment, why it’s important and even more activities to do with your dog!