Did you know that Mental stimulation is a crucial for your dog and just like us your dog needs to keep his mind happy and healthy , This area of dog care can be overlooked and often not addressed and can lead to behavior issues in dogs if not nurtured and enrichment.
Canine enrichment encourages your dog to use their natural behaviors like sniffing, hunting, foraging and chewing, we often forget the purpose in which our dogs were breed for and take them into our homes and forget to give them a job to keep their minds stimulated.
Social enrichment is the practice of promoting contact with dogs and other species. This can be done by:
having supervised play groups
Using group housing for compatible dogs
Social living provides mental stimulation
Taking dogs on walks, and creating positive interactions including play, praise, and petting. A social dog will be less likely to become fearful, over stimulated when exposed to new people, dogs, places, or objects
Nutritional enrichment encourages animals to use natural foraging/feeding behaviours to earn food. This can be done by:
Using puzzle feeders-
Hiding food to challenge the dog and encourage them to search for food
Alternating feeds, treats, and chewable items Increased foraging behaviour may decrease unwanted behaviours such as excessive barking. It may also help increase physical activity, benefiting the animal’s overall condition
Give them a job! Occupational enrichment challenges your dog and encourages physical and mental stimulation. This can be done by:
Playing sports, such as agility or fetch
Practicing positive training regularly
Use treats to teach behaviours such as “sit” and walking on lead, or tricks like “shake”
Providing food puzzles
These require the dog to “work” to get the food/treat out Occupational enrichment helps keep dogs mentally stimulated, which combats boredom while also allowing them to release excess energy.
Sensory enrichment can be used to stimulate the different sense of dogs, such as sight, sound, or smell. This can be done by:
Placing visually stimulating objects outside for dog to see
Allowing visual access to the environment
Including auditory enrichment, such as music
Select soothing music, keep the volume low, and the sound should not be on all the time
Adding interesting scents such as herbs like lavender, chamomile, spices (e.g vanilla, coconut, ginger). Place scents inside a piece of PVC pipe with additional drilled holes so that it can be easily added/ removed from the dog’s pen Effective sensory enrichment with herbs and spices can have a calming effect on animals, reducing barking and increasing resting
Physical enrichment includes altering the quality and complexity of the dog’s living space. This can be done by:
Providing safe toys, and having a rotation to maintain the enriching effect of the toys.
Adding items such raised platform, ramp/steps or a door to allow access to the outside Physical enrichments should provide outlets for positive expression of natural behaviours such as free running if your dog has a reliable recall this provide your dog with more control over their social and physical environment.