Keeping your dog fit is a significant aspect of its wellness. However, you should also try to provide mental enrichment and stimulation for the dog. 

Being a certified vet technician, I know that every dog needs enrichment. Pet owners know the feeling that comes with their dogs being on edge or appearing to go up a wall – even after daily exercise. In the above situation, your dog requires some enrichment. 

Taking the dog for a walk does not do much, though your dog needs the daily walk too. If it is not getting its daily walk, you should get a trustworthy dog walker for any reason. 

Dog Enrichment: What and Why 

The lives of dogs are meant to be very active. They are not meant to sleep all day till their owners leave work. Many research, particularly those made by zoos, shows that the enrichment of an animal’s habitat improves its physical and psychological well-being. 

The authors of the book ‘Beyond Squeaky Toys’ have broken down animal enrichment into different categories. Take note that dogs are also individuals, so not every activity stated below that all dogs like. For instance, small dogs might love the pop-up tunnel indoors, while some love bubbles, other dogs may be indifferent and some are not motivated by food. The key to finding out the best enrichment for your dog is to experiment.  

Types of Dogs Enrichment 

Social Enrichment 

This allows your pet to play with other people and animals in a new and completely different environment. Examples of this include taking your dogs to the beach, taking them shopping, taking them to your office, etc. 

You can easily provide social enrichment for your pets, even as a working parent. You can also get an occasional pet sitter. This allows your pet to play for extra hours during the day. 

For restless or bored dogs, daycare is a reasonable option. Even if you don’t take them there every day, your dog has something to anticipate during the week eagerly. 

Cognitive Enrichment 

This allows your dog to think. It also creates problem-solving characteristics in your dogs. Examples include getting puzzle toys for your dogs, letting your dog play the K9 hose odour game, playing the hide and seek game with your dog. 

These examples build a powerful recall between you and your dog. Also, remember to treat your dog generously when he finds you. 

Try the Hide-a-Squirrel puzzle toy; it is a popular toy for cognitive enrichment. 

Physical Enrichment 

Enhance your pet’s environment by adding or changing the complexity of the domain. You can provide a dig out or bury, hide toys in it and task your dogs to search for them. You can provide tents and blanket forts; you can also get a Pop-up tunnel. 

Image credit: Stylish Hound 

Sensory Enrichment 

With sensory enrichment, all the five senses of your dog will be stimulated. An excellent example of this is Nosework. Other examples include bubbles, mint and cinnamon herbs & spices, farm animal scents and wind chimes. 

Feeding Enrichment 

Make the mealtime of your pets more exciting and challenging. You can do this by compellingly presenting their food. An example of this is hiding your pet’s food under a blanket – just hide the treat out of sight and watch your dog search for its food. 

A puzzle feeder will be a great addition as it will help slow down gulpers. It will also stimulate the pet’s mind. 

Ice treats are also lovely. Try to freeze your dog’s toys in big ice cubes and see the amount of time it takes to gain access to the toys. Pro tip: do the ice treat in a place or surface you can easily clean.