If you have talked to your Good Human dog trainer for more than 5 minutes, you know we are big fans of adding enrichment to your dog’s day. It’s an element of every training plan we create.
So, what is this enrichment you’re always talking about?
Enrichment is a buzzword in the dog world right now, but what does it mean?
— The Saint Louis Zoo
“An enriched environment is interesting, allows animals to perform natural behaviors, permits them to be more active, and increases the animals’ control over their environment. Enrichment helps satisfy both the physical and psychological needs of animals and allows them to make choices.”
When it comes to our pet dogs, enrichment provides a bridge to their biological, psychological, and social needs. It could be changing up the physical exercise, mental stimulation, chewing, digging, foraging, safe play with other dogs, or variety- it depends on your dog and your lifestyle.
What are the benefits for my dog?
- gives a feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction
- reduces boredom-related behavior problems
- stimulates and assists in brain growth
- increases intelligence and problem-solving abilities
- builds confidence and social skills
- allows dogs to be dogs and do dog things
- creates a more balanced and happy dog.
- weight loss in dogs who actively work for their meals
- increased focus and concentration
- builds stronger bonds through interactive play
- protects against age-associated cognitive decline and dementia
What can I do to enrich my dog’s life?
Behaviors such as digging, running, playing, sniffing, swimming, foraging, and exploring are natural for dogs; it’s who they are. Give your best friend opportunities to dog (verb), and your life will be enriched as well.
There are several ways you can mentally stimulate your dog, most of which don’t involve any significant expenses. Here are my favorite ones:
- Ditch The Bowl: feed your dog from a snuffle mat, puzzle toy, kong, or just throw it in the yard.
- The Nose Knows: simple scent games provide powerful mental stimulation.
- Walks: walks in new places, walks in smelly places. Above all, let them sniff.
- Playdates: Find a compatible dog and let them hang out. (not for all dogs, of course)
- Rip and Tear: Find some things your dog can tear up. Destruction boxes are my favorite. It’s just a simple box filled with various items with treats hidden inside. Your dog has to rummage through to find all the puzzles, then individually work out how to get the treats.
- Dog training: Teach your old dog some new tricks. Teach your young dog some old tricks.
- Many, many more ideas are listed in Jen’s Enrichment Now e-book.
- Consider a Good Human Enrichment Now delivery (e-book included).
Will enrichment make my dog tear things up or get into things they shouldn’t?
Nope. Usually the opposite. When we give our dogs a legal outlet for these species-specific behaviors, we typically see any problem behaviors decrease.
How do I know which activity to start with?
1. Start with food. Most dogs love to eat.
2. Keep it simple. Start your dog off with some easy enrichment endeavors while they learn the game.
3. Know your dog’s interests. Have a hound dog? Get that nose going. Terrier? Digging is key.
4. Supervise for safety while you get to know what’s right for your dog.
5. Are you on Facebook? Check out the group called “Canine Enrichment,” which is devoted to sharing ideas and promoting a better life for dogs.
6. Get in touch. Good Human offers custom enrichment plans based on your dog’s needs.