Whether you work from home, have a high energy dog or simply want to up their quality of life - enrichment is both a valuable & vital addition to your pup’s day.
But what is dog enrichment and why is enrichment important for dogs?
Enrichment allows your dog to act out natural urges and perform pleasurable behaviours. These actions can reduce their boredom or stress levels, give them a sense of control over their environment, and keep them occupied in non-destructive ways!
Enrichment activities are also a fantastic way to boost the bond between you and your dog, especially if it’s a team exercise. Enrichment needs for dogs often centre around using their natural, instinctual abilities - such as scenting, hunting, digging, chewing, problem-solving & following commands.
Allowing your dog to express these natural behaviours can tire out their mind and body, the key to a happy, healthy & calm dog!
So here are 5 unique dog enrichment ideas to boost all that good stuff and keep things fresh for your dog.
After all, we all know the benefits of a long walk, a stuffed treat dispenser or a quick training session. But for high energy, super intelligent or young dogs, you might be needing some more tricks up your sleeve!
With that in mind, these enrichment ideas are designed for both indoor and outdoor sessions, as well as to be long lasting, enjoyable & allow you to find more harmony with your dog - no matter the weather!
If you have a high energy dog, chances are you start the day with a big physical adventure to try and burn off some of that steam. But even after their hike, does your dog still seem to be bouncing off the walls?
High energy dogs often need help ‘coming down’ from stimulating experiences, and the best way to do that is with puzzles. We have some of the top dog enrichment toys in Australia, which can be combined to create the perfect cool-down breakfast for your livewire pup.
Take your dog’s morning feed, and split it into 2-3 dog enrichment puzzles. Choose any of the following:
Some of the above you can even freeze for added difficulty levels!
A training session is always a fantastic way to enrich your dog’s day, as well as boost that all-important bond. But what’s even smarter is a training session that will improve your dog’s ability to understand their own ‘off switch’.
Dr Karen Overall’s Relaxation Protocol is a structured introduction to what some call ‘mat training’, in which you teach your dog that lying down and relaxing is a desirable and highly reinforcing behaviour. Through working through her steps day by day, your dog builds value for simply being on a mat and chilling out. Plus it can help build confidence in, and a calm approach to, new environments (by taking their mat with you!).
These short daily sessions are sure to work your dog’s brain, while also having the added benefit of improving their impulse control and general calmness (when you need it most!).
Using that incredible nose is a great way to really tire out your dog and see their brain really work! Even just 15 minutes of scent work can work wonders on the most high energy pups. You can do this in several ways:
Of course, fetch is a time-honoured way to burn energy and build that owner-pooch bond. But instead of throwing the same old throws, why not upgrade your fetch and bring a level of novelty, excitement and difficulty to really enrich your dog’s walk time.
Chuckit! have a fantastic range of toys perfectly suited to creating fetch time that your dog will be drooling over. Whether it’s a rope ball, frisbee, or launcher for more engagement and endurance, or their Amphibious range to make swim time even more exciting. There are even options for multi-dog fetch to make a play-date fun for all.
You can even up the ante by including some obedience training in your fetch work. Start by asking for a sit before you throw, then move to a more advanced series of tasks to work your dog’s brain AND body. Sure to result in a very sleepy dog when you return home.
Looking for dog enrichment ideas without food? We don’t want to always be using food to entertain our dogs, especially if they need to be on a diet!
If your dog is generally well behaved, why not use your lunch break to try a new outing? You could look up dog-friendly stores, cafes or dog parks and combine a new environment with some training. Not only is a new environment especially stimulating for a dog (especially when you let them sniff and explore for the first 10-15 minutes), but you even practice your mat work too. Two birds with one stone!
You could even arrange to meet a fellow owner at one of these places and combine your visit with a playdate - guaranteed to tire out your dog.
We hope these unique enrichment ideas help your dog feel content & happy. Let us know your go-to enrichment ideas, we’d love to know!
Whether indoors or outdoors, we can’t escape the fact that high-value food is always going to be effective in keeping your pup engaged and entertained.
So here’s a few bonus dog enrichment ideas, including some simple recipe ideas for treat toys or Lickimat topper:
Recipe Ideas For Dog Lickimats
Even better if you can make your own dog treats or broth at home - as this way you can better control the salt quantities in these foods.
So, there you have it! 5 unique dog enrichment ideas, plus some bonus recipe ideas for dog treat toys and Lickimats. If you want to offer your dog an extra challenge, you can swap out their treat toy and Lickimat with one of these ideas suggested by the RSPCA.
We hope your dog absolutely loves trying these activities out.