I don’t know about your dogs, but my dogs are naturally pretty darn lazy.
Kol’s favourite pastime is trying to hold down the couch. Felix is exceptionally skilled at horizontal running. In the chilly wet days of a Vancouver autumn, it could be very tempting to chill out and settle in for a long season of naps and snuggles. One thing I’ve learned in my nearly 10 years as a dog owner is that my dogs may not naturally seek out opportunities to work their brains, but that they are so much happier, healthy and well behaved when I offer them a lot of chances for enrichment. They need it. It’s my job as their human to give it to them.
Just what is enrichment, anyway?
It’s anything that works your pup’s mind by engaging the senses, challenging them to learn or solve a puzzle or through social interaction.
Here at Casa de Kolchak, we try to not only offer a lot of enrichment opportunities, but to keep those opportunities varied, fun and interesting. After all, if you do the same puzzle every day, it stops being a puzzle!
Four ways to add enrichment to your dog’s day
1. Serve meals or snacks in a food toy or puzzle These don’t have to be expensive or complicated. There are a TON of affordable games and toys on the market these days. You can even DIY your own dog treat toys. The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a puzzle toy for your dog it to match the difficultly level to your dog’s skill and motivation. If the puzzle is too hard, they might give up, but there’s no challenge in a puzzle that’s too easy.
2. Practice new tricks and skills. There is nothing that keeps Kolchak sharp quite like training does. He loves the positive reinforcement of earning rewards and he finds it genuinely exhausting. a tired dog is a happy dog. Tricks don’t have to be hard or fancy, practicing basic skills like recall, impulse control and obedience can make a huge difference in your dog’s well being.
3. Introduce new things and new experiences. Novelty stimulates the senses and challenges the mind. Introduce your dogs to a new place to explore, a new tool to learn (like dog stairs), show them their reflection in the mirror or hide strongly scented treats for them to find. (Just make sure you know where you hid them all. There’s nothing like finding week old dog treat roll hidden behind the TV stand.)
4. Dog’s are social animals. Have you ever noticed how most dogs LOVE company? Kol and Fe pretty much loose their minds when someone comes over. They love running up to new people on our walks and they glory in having a stranger rub their bellies. Meeting new people or other dogs and spending time socializing is a great way to help keep your dog’s mind sharp.
Paw5 is sharing some great ideas for ways you can help enrich your dog’s life. They’ve got ideas for every day of the Paw5 Challenge ranging from treat toys, to games and more. Check out their Facebook page for more information.
Will you take the Paw5 Enrichment Challenge with us?
How do you add enrichment to your dog’s day? Do you have a favourite puzzle or game?