Your family loves your dog, but it’s common for people to not realize just how intelligent their pups are. This means that it’s not unusual for families to neglect enrichment activities for their dogs.
If your dog ever seems bored, on edge or restless, chances are good that they could use some more enrichment activities in their life. You’re probably already take them for a daily walk, but they could benefit from other activities, especially those that stimulate their senses.
Why Dog Enrichment?
Dogs aren’t meant to simply sleep away the day until someone comes home. Instead, they are built for activity. When you enrich your dog’s living environment, it improves both their physical and psychological well-being.
There are many forms of enrichment, and one of these includes sensory activities. These are any activities that are designed to appeal to any of your dog’s five senses.
Here are some ideas for stimulating all of your dog’s senses.
Dogs love using their sense of smell to explore and understand the world. You can stimulate them by introducing new smells on a regular basis.
For instance, do you or someone you know keep goats or other animals? If so, consider putting an old t-shirt in their living area for a few days. Then, bring the t-shirt home and tie it to a tug toy. Your dogs won’t be able to get enough of that t-shirt.
Another activity that will stimulate your dog’s sense of smell is hiding kibble in a blanket or snuffle mat. Are you unfamiliar with snuffle mats?
Snuffle mats are the perfect way to engage your pup in brain games and to give them tasty treats. They are made with a rubber sink mat with strips of fleece knotted to it. You can make your own snuffle mat or buy one that’s ready-made.
Hide a few treats among the strips of fleece, and your dog will instantly be engaged in trying to sniff them out.
Don’t forget that your pup’s sense of smell is of primary importance. It’s actually their preferred method for investigating the world around them, so regular stimulation is critical.
Physical contact with people, an object or another animal can be a comforting sensation for dogs. It’s important to provide tactile experiences with things like petting and cuddling, but even brushing your dog’s coat can be an important tactile experience.
Another option is to take your pup for a walk along a textured or grated surface. Just be mindful of any nails or other sharp objects and ensure that the grating isn’t too widely spaced for your dog’s comfort and safety.
As your dog walks on various surfaces, he also may need some time for behavior like mouthing, digging and pawing.
Bodies of water can provide a very good setting for your dog as well, providing multiple methods of tactile experiences.
These tactile experiences will even help your pup to relax better when he gets home.
Dogs gain a great deal of information as well as stimulation from their oral senses. One of the best ways to do this is simply to offer a variety of treats on a regular basis. After all, who likes to have the same treats all the time? Make sure that you have a selection on hand to keep things interesting for your pup.
Other oral stimulation comes from a stuffed Kong toy. This is a favorite with many dogs that love to work for a tasty reward. This activity can have several benefits for pups, including reducing their stress and enriching their lives.
Another option is to use food-dispensing toys. You can make your own with some PVC pipe, an idea that comes from zoos. If these toys can stand up to bears and tigers, even the dog with the most determined chewing behavior won’t be able to destroy it.
Just use a food-grade PVC pipe with two end caps. One of these caps should be a screw top so that you can remove and replace it with ease. Use a drill to make a few holes in the PVC pipe that are just slightly larger than your dog’s kibble. Dogs love this puzzle-like activity that also satisfies their impulse to chew.
Don’t forget to also provide your dog with a nice mix of chew toys. Look for toys with knobs, spikes and other tactile features that will be especially interesting to chew on.
There are lots of reasons to stimulate your dog with various sounds. One of the primary reasons is that dogs can get scared of unfamiliar sounds.
Simply dropping a bowl or flatware on the floor helps to acclimate your pup to sudden, potentially loud, sounds so that he doesn’t get so startled when such accidents happen for real. Other dog owners swear by using a blow dryer for sound stimulation.
Another idea is to get some wind chimes. Many dogs love the relaxing, melodic sounds.
Exposing your canine to different sounds at an early age can make all the difference in how your dog reacts to different sounds in the future.
When you take your dog for walks, do you always stick to the same route? Familiarity can be fun as it allows you and your pup to notice changes that occur over time. However, your dog will definitely benefit from being introduced to new environments.
On a regular basis, find new places to take your dog for a walk. A new trail or street has all sorts of new sights to see and smells to discover. When you are out for a walk or on a visit to the dog park, work with your pup on visual signals to further stimulate your dog’s sight sense.
Doglando Offers Constant Enrichment
One of the reasons why so many dog parents bring their pups to Doglando on a regular basis is for the sensory stimulation. Doglando is designed to provide the ultimate in enrichment and stimulation, promising a fulfilling, and tiring, experience.
Dogs that spend time at Doglando tend to be far better behaved at home as well as being well-adjusted, happy and healthy. Contact us today to learn about how Doglando stimulates dogs on a regular basis.
Teena Patel is a Certified Dog Trainer and Behavioral Counselor who works with pet owners and owners of doggy daycares to bring her philosophy of Enrichment to the canine population. After almost two decades of successful dog training under her belt, Teena has done away with the standard doggy daycare “warehousing” of animals in kennels and runs. In place of an industrial model, she focuses on what is right for the dogs as living beings, providing experiences that improve and enhance their behavioral health. Coupled with a program of careful training, the Doglando experience results in companion dogs who are better-behaved, better integrated into their families, and above all, much happier. True to her passion, Teena Patel gives dogs the freedom “to be dogs”.