Enrichment uses one or more of your dog’s senses and makes their world a better place. Using items to curb boredom can reduce or eliminate unwanted behaviors while increasing confidence. Enrichment items can be store-bought or made from everyday household items. That means a happy dog with any price range!
Below you will find some examples of fun enrichment activities. Of course, we encourage you to get creative and find new ideas!
What is the purpose of enrichment?
- Provides stability.
- Curbs boredom.
- Reduces or eliminates unwanted behaviors while increasing confidence.
- Teaches appropriate play and chewing.
- Provides mental and physical exercise.
Enrichment is a sensory activity, using the dog’s sense of taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight.
- Hand-feeding: leave the bowl behind and teach your dog to sit politely for feeding time, getting food from you a few kibbles at a time. This will also promote bonding between you and your dog.
- Bully sticks, deer antlers, or nylabones: all are better alternatives to chewing your shoes!
- Homemade ice treats: fill an ice cube tray with low sodium chicken broth, yogurt, baby food, or watered down peanut butter. Add treats, freeze, and let your dog enjoy!
- Paper bags or takeout containers with treats or kibble hidden inside: a fun and inexpensive treat-dispensing toy.
- Kongs, Kong Wobblers, everlasting treat toys: another alternative to feeding from a (boring) bowl.
- Beds and blankets: provides warmth and comfort.
- Handling: reward your dog handling them (touching paws, ears, etc). This can help teach your dog that grooming or vet check-ups aren’t so bad after all!
- A swimming pool filled with empty water bottles: a great way to spend a sunny afternoon, watching your dog romp and play. Make it even more fun by hiding treats in amongst the bottles!
- Water bottle toy: put an athletic sock over the top of an empty water bottle = instant sensory toy!
- Agility equipment: this can make a boring yard full of fun!
- Try a ‘scent of the day’ – scented oil or flower essences diluted in a spray bottle.
- Nose work: hide treats around the house and encourages your dog to find them.
- DAP products: these may reduce stress for some dogs.
- PVC pipe treat dispenser toys: make your own inexpensive toys!
- White noise machine, television, or radio: this can help dogs feel calmer when you are not around.
- Bubbles: puppies to seniors love to watch and chase bubbles!
- Playdates: playtime with another dog can give you a tired and happy dog when the experience is positive.
- Mirrors: some dogs love to check themselves out in a mirror!