Whenever you’re short on time or the weather is uninviting, enrichment activities are a fantastic option to give your dog some mental stimulation when you’ll be able to’t give them physical activity.
The enrichment activities below are all super easy, take just just a few minutes to arrange, and use items that you just have already got in your home.
The perfect part?
Your dog will love these games and they’ll tire your dog out just as much as, if not greater than, a walk will.
That’s because mental work is tiring work! This is the reason a structured walk tires your dog greater than an hour-long stroll.
Why do Dogs Need Mental Stimulation?
Mental stimulation for dogs is just as vital as physical activity.
How repeatedly have you ever heard an owner joke that they should run their dog 10 miles every single day with a view to tire them out?
All they’re doing is creating an endurance athlete. When you’re an ultrarunner, like I’m, then that’s what you would like. When you’re not, then you definitely’d higher turn out to be one so you’ll be able to sustain along with your dog.
Mental stimulation is more tiring than physical activity and can help prevent boredom and destructive behaviors, like incessant barking and chewing on items they shouldn’t.
Take into consideration driving within the snow versus driving on a pleasant sunny day. Even a brief drive within the snow will leave you mentally drained by the point you reach your destination.
What counts as mental stimulation? Along with the enrichment activities you’ll see listed below, listed here are just a few more which you can incorporate into your regular routine:
They will, but they shouldn’t. They need to have the other effect.
Nevertheless, if you could have not established boundaries and structure at home, then there may be a likelihood that your dog can turn out to be destructive or demanding once they see the enrichment activity appear in a non-play setting.
For instance, my dog believes that each cardboard box is for him, so each time I receive a package, I actually have to let him know that we’re not playing for the time being.
I can pass over cardboard boxes for recycling and Sitka will leave them alone. He’s learned that we will play with them once I initiate the play.
The best option to curb destructive behavior in case your dog is getting excited each time they see the toy, is to place the toys away after use. That signifies that playtime is over.
Easy Enrichment Activities for Dogs
The entire enrichment activities below take just minutes to establish and utilize items you most likely have already got lying around at home. Except for the item, you’ll just need your dog’s food.
When you’re first introducing your dog to those games, start out very easy the primary few times, until your dog understands the concept. Once, they get it, then you definitely can increase the extent of difficulty.
I don’t eat eggs myself, but I give them to Sitka just a few times per week. I save the egg carton for the simplest enrichment activity ever.
Take your dog’s meal and fill the egg slots with just a few pieces each, close the box, and voila, easy dog enrichment game!
Once your dog understands the sport, listed here are just a few ways you’ll be able to make it more difficult:
- Hide the egg carton and ask your dog to seek out it
- Put the egg carton inside your busy box (see below)
- Tie the egg carton along with ribbon (ensure that it’s something your dog won’t ingest)
That is one in all my go-to enrichment activities for my dog when I need him to work a little bit for his food, but I don’t have time to work on training drills or latest tricks.
Take a shower towel and lay it out flat. Scatter a handful or two of your dog’s food over the towel. Next, roll it up, fold it randomly, and even just scrunch it up right into a ball, then let your dog have at it.
Need to increase the issue? Here’s how:
- Fold the towel in half lengthwise, then add more treats, then fold it again lengthwise and roll up from the short end.
- After you’ve added the treats and rolled up the towel lengthwise, tie it right into a knot (that is most advanced)
- With the towel fully open, twist from the middle until you’ve twisted all the towel, add more treats within the crevices
- Fold and twist the towel several times, adding more treats to every fold and twist
Muffin Tin + Tennis Balls
This enrichment activity couldn’t be easier!
Simply take a muffin tin, add food to every compartment, then cover every one with tennis balls. To up the challenge, you need to use smaller balls that your dog has to physically remove from the compartment.
You too can add food to pieces of paper, crumple it up and add to every compartment.
Tip: When you don’t wish to use your muffin tin for dog games, Goodwill is a fantastic place to seek out a reasonable used one, only for the dog.
Hide n’ Seek
I like this game for travel days or after we’re staying in a hotel room. It’s super easy and plenty of fun!
It doubles as an impulse control training exercise and puts their nose to work.
Take your dog’s food and conceal it in small piles in five to 10 different locations within the room. I wish to do several rounds of this game, so each pile has just just a few pieces to it.
When you’re hiding your dog’s food, put them in place or have them lie down. It’s okay in the event that they watch you, especially whenever you’re first starting out.
When you’ve hidden all of their food, release them, using a cue like “find it!” and watch them sniff out their meal.
It’s alright to help them in the event that they get stuck. You possibly can tap the bottom by the food, stand near the realm where it’s hidden.
Sometimes, I play “hot or cold” with my dog and he seems to grasp that he’s close once I say “hot, hot, hot!”
In case your dog is having trouble understanding the sport, hide the food in very obvious spots, just like the ground. Once they get the concept, you’ll be able to start hiding the food in additional obscure places.
Listed here are just a few of my favorite hiding spots:
- Under rugs
- Behind doors
- Inside my shoe
- On shelves
- Chair cross bars
Cardboard Box Game
This one is one other favorite enrichment activity for dogs. I get My dog gets plenty of packages, so I save larger boxes and any paper packaging materials for this very activity.
This enrichment activity couldn’t be simpler. Ready?
Take the box, toss in a handful of your dog’s food, seal up the box so it doesn’t open on it’s own and let your dog go to town!
The bonus of this game is that it not only works as scentwork, however it also gives dogs a secure rip and tear outlet. Once he’s fished out the entire treats, Sitka will spend the following several minutes just ripping up the cardboard.
I like getting involved with this part by taking big pieces and twiddling with Sitka to assist him rip and tear each bit. Just be mindful of your fingers!
Yes, it’s messy to scrub up afterward, however it’s value it to see how much fun your dog has with this enrichment activity.
Cardboard boxes have infinite possibilities for enrichment. Listed here are just a few more ways you’ll be able to get creative:
- Crumple up paper contained in the box so your dog has to root around
- Toss in water bottles
- Add treats to treat allotting toys and put those contained in the box
- Put a towel or egg carton contained in the box
- Add multiple boxes contained in the box
Water Bottle Treat Dispenser
When you drink bottled water, keep those bottles and use them as a fun DIY enrichment activity.
Simply fill them up with a few of your dog’s food, seal the lid, and let your dog have at it.
In case your dog’s food is on the larger side, you’ll be able to leave the bottle unsealed after which it becomes a treat allotting toy. You too can use an exacto knife to chop holes in the perimeters of the water bottle.
Toilet Paper Rolls
Don’t toss that vacant toilet paper roll! Reserve it in your dog. (paper towel rolls work great, as well).
Simply cut 4-6 slits into each end, fold down one end, toss in a handful of food, then fold up the opposite end. Fast dog toy!
You possibly can hide these across the house and ask your dog to go looking for them to create more of a challenge. They’re also great to toss inside cardboard boxes.
At all times supervise your dog with any ingestible items, like plastic and cardboard. Make certain that they’ve a superb “out” command and take away the toy once they’ve eaten the entire treats or start to have interaction in chewing behavior.