If you want your dog to be healthy and happy, you must keep enriching them regularly and give them the scope to engage with their inherent behaviors like playing, chewing, chasing, scavenging, and smelling. When you allow your dog to continue doing such behavior, you provide them with physical, emotional, and mental satisfaction.
If a dog does not receive the stimulation they want, it finds ways to enrich itself. But, unfortunately, it leads them to behave in a way you do not want them to. So, here we have described some DIY (do-it-yourself) projects you can create with this goal in mind.
These games fall into two major categories – food enrichment and environmental enrichment. In the first case, you use food to stimulate them. In the second case, you use the environment around them to keep their brains engaged. Here you can check 11 dog enrichment ideas.
1. Muffin tin puzzle
Here you would need a muffin tin, some toys such as tennis balls, and kibble for your little one. You would have to distribute the kibble in various muffin tins. Place a toy on them. You can make it more interesting by not putting kibble underneath each toy.
2. Box puzzle
For this, you would need three boxes that can nest in one another and smelly treats with a lot of value. Could you place the food treat in the smallest box and then fold the top of the box?
3. Paper roll puzzle
Creating this would require using a paper towel roll or toilet paper and treats. Just fold an end of the paper roll. Place the treats within them. Then fold the other end of it. Ask your dog to find the food treat.
4. Snuffle mat
Here you would need fleece strips tied to a rubber mat or a high-pile bathroom mat with kibble. You would have to place the kibble across the snuffle mat to hide them and then ask your dog to find them.
5. Scent games or Find it
To play this game, you would need high-value treats. You start the game by saying find it and tossing a treat close to your dog. When they can find it, you must praise them. Once they get used to the game, start making it hard, but you must do so slowly.
Once they learn the game, you can start hiding the treats, so your dog has to work hard to find them. Else, you can walk at their pace and allow them to stop and sniff so that they can take in the scents.
It does not matter if you plan an indoor scent game or are out on a walk; significantly, you let your dog use their nose.
Sniffing is always a stimulating experience for your dog, and it calms them down even as it gives them the scope to gather information about their environment at any given time. There are several ways to do it, like letting them sniff out things for fun. It is an environmental enrichment game.
6. Food tube dog puzzle
It is a fun game. All you need for it are some additional toilet paper rolls. Use paper towel rolls cut to a specific size for this game. Apart from these, you would need a box to arrange them. Shoe boxes work the best for this game, but just about every box should be fine. It is a game for slowing down fast eaters.
Could you fill up a muffin tin or an ice cube tray for this? However, it depends on how big your dog is – with a few pieces of treats and kibbles. On top of this, you can place wet food such as the following:
- chicken broth
- canned pumpkin
- plain yogurt
- mashed banana
Then you would need to freeze the entire thing. This way, you would give your dog a popsicle every day. Then, you can make several flavors to keep it interesting for them.
8. Hide n’ Seek
This super easy game is a lot of fun and the ideal option for those days when traveling or staying at a hotel. This game lets the dogs put their noses to work and also doubles up as an impulse training control exercise. You can take food from your dog and hide it in small piles at different locations across the room.
It can be anywhere between five and ten areas. Then, you can play several game rounds using a few pieces of food in each pile.
9. Toilet tube treat dispensers
You can use cardboard containers as they would make such great treat dispensers that your dog can destroy. You can stuff empty paper towel rolls or toilet paper tubes with soft treats.
For example, you can spread cream cheese or peanut butter along the inner channels of the cardboard tube. Your dog would then have to lick the treat out while ensuring at the same time that the line does not get squished flat or roll away.
You can make it even more challenging by folding down the ends of the tube.
It will force your dog to rip into the cardboard. Then, the dog can get the goodies within the tube. If you want the treatment to last long, you can freeze the tube with its contents before you give it to your naughty one.
10. Egg hunt
This enrichment game can get your baby’s mind working even as they search for a magical egg or eggs. There are a couple of ways in which this game can be designed. First, you can use an actual egg carton. Else, you can divide a small box into several sections.
The next step in this game would be to fill those containers with paper eggs. How many of these supposed eggs have treats in them will depend on what you want in this case. You can make it different each time.
11. Busy box
This game comes in several forms, and it has all kinds of difficulty levels as well. In the beginning, you can take the toy box of your dog and empty all the toys in it.
After this, put a layer of food at the bottom, then a layer of toys, and keep interspersing these layers like this. It would allow your dog to rummage through their toy box until they find all the food stored in its various layers.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to make canine enrichment at home?
Popsicles are a great way to create canine enrichment itself. First, fill a muffin or ice cube tray with treats and wet food, then freeze the entire thing.
What can you give your dog for enrichment when they are alone at home?
KONG toys can be a classic choice. You can fill up these hollow toys with dog treats and peanut butter. But, of course, your dog would have to remove these goodies from these toys.
What are the six sorts of canine enrichment?
Following are the six ways of canine enrichment:
- social enrichment
- sensory enrichment
- cognitive enrichment
- food enrichment
- physical enrichment
- toy enrichment
How can a bored dog be enriched?
Following are some ways to enrich a bored dog:
- setting up a scavenger hunt
- rotating their toys
- making them solve puzzles
- training them
- letting them play games
What can you put in your dog’s enrichment toys?
The first option you have in this case is wet dog food because it is the easiest option. Then you can try putting in the likes of frozen bone broth or peanut butter.
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It would be remiss if we didn’t speak of one final game before we bid farewell – the agility course. For dog parents with imagination, the sky is the limit if anything goes in these cases! You can make them crawl below chairs, jump over maps, sit on an Ottoman, or make jumps out of boxes. These can be fun activities for the entire family.