“Enrichment” has become the new buzz word in dog care. In fact, at Dog Tired, we pride ourselves in providing a variety of Enrichment to the dogs in our care. From simple food puzzles, to Fit Paws equipment and treadmills, there are a ton of activities out there for your dog to exercise their mind and body. But you don’t have to break the bank to enrich your dog’s life. Here are some great DIY dog enrichment ideas for you to use at home.
Food Focused Activities
-Snuffle Mat: The snuffle mat is a great way to slow your pup down at feeding time. All you have to do is take a plastic sink mat (you can order a set from Amazon for less than $10), cut up some strips of fleece and tie it around the holes in the mat. Then sprinkle some food or treats on the mat and tussle it around a bit to get the food hidden under the fleece. Your pup then just “snuffles” around finding all the tasty goodies!
-Rummage Box: The rummage box is the same premise as the snuffle mat. All you need for a rummage box is a box (or even a plastic bin will do) some paper and some treats. Rip the paper up into smaller pieces and scrunch up a treat inside each piece. Then toss the paper into the box, we like to scatter a few unhidden treats in there too, and let your pup rummage around to find the food.
-Frozen treats: Most dog owners are familiar with the popular Kong toy, that you can fill and freeze with all kinds of interesting stuff for their pup to munch on. But you can also simply use an ice cube tray to make some yummy frozen treats for you pup. Just take the ingredients below, add a little water, and use a food processor to blend together. Pour into an ice cube tray and freeze for a few hours. Some of our favorite recipes are:
· Bananas & peanut butter
· Blueberry & Yogurt
· Pumpkin, Cinnamon & Yogurt
Worried about overfeeding? Replace the treats with parts of your dog’s daily meals.
-Walk With No Purpose: How many of us take our dogs for walks, and follow the same path, stop at the same fire hydrant and rarely veer off course? I know I do this all the time. The dog walk becomes the chore you have to do and while your pup may enjoy the physical part, the person-focused walk doesn’t really stimulate their brain as much as it could. So try this: Take your dog for a walk and let them lead the way!!! Let them use their sniffers to determine which direction they want to go in and let them investigate all of those wonderful smells!! You may not get your full mile in, but I can guarantee your pup will get so much more out of a walk that has no purpose.
-Have an Adventure: While out on your walks, encourage your dog to walk on different surfaces, like gravel, grass, pavement, pebbles, etc. See if you can get them to jump up on rocks, logs, etc. that you may encounter on the way.
-DIY agility course: You don’t need to spend tons of money on purchasing agility equipment for your backyard. You can make lots of fun obstacles out of PVC pipe. It’s low cost and super easy to clean and store! Click here for easy to follow instructions.
Brain Focused Activities
-Hide and Seek: Teach your dog how to play hide and seek with their favorite toy. You will need to start out slow with this, first by teaching the stay command. Once they know the stay command, show them the toy and walk out of their line of sight. Start by making the toy really easy to find, like in the center of the next room. Give them a command, such as “Find it!” and praise them like crazy when they are successful. Build up to more difficult hiding places as they start to learn the point of the game.
The most important thing to remember about enrichment activities is they are meant to be fun, as well as stimulating. One great aspect about Canine Enrichment is there is no right or wrong way to do it. As long as your dog enjoys the experience, you are doing it right!