4 Go-to enrichment activities for a happier dog

4 Go-To Enrichment Activities For a Happier and Healther Dog

An enriched [environment] is interesting, allows animals to perform natural behaviors, permits them to be more active and increases the animals’ control over their environment. Enrichment helps satisfy both the physical and psychological needs of animals and allows them to make choices.

Hey there fellow dog owners and enthusiasts! As a lifelong dog owner and (now) blogger, I can't stress enough how important enrichment is for our canine companions. It's not just something we should do once in a while, but rather a daily component of our dog's lives, with most of them being good for us too!

Decompression walks

My favorite go-to enrichment activities that I do daily is take my dog on decompression walks. These walks in nature, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, give us the opportunity to take some time away, and gives my dog the opportunity to just be a dog and engage in all the activities he loves (walking, sniffing, chasing squirrels, etc..). We also usually go earlier in the mornings and late at night so he can be off-leash and is free to roam and sniff where and when he pleases, without worrying about matching my speed, or me having to stop for him.

enrichment decompression walk with dog in the forest

These walks help us have some time away and get back to our natural environment and provide balance. It's a great way to reduce their stress (and yours!) and lets them explore in an unstructured environment without any pressures or outside distractions.

Sniffing Games 

Another enrichment activity that dogs absolutely loves are sniffing games. Sniffing is how dogs see the world, and interrupting or correcting them for doing so is not only unkind but also misguided. (side note! There is nothing worse than seeing a dog owner tugging away at their dog anytime they go to sniff something) 

So let your dog sniff to their heart's content! Hide treats around the house, scatter kibble in the backyard or along the walking path, or invest in a Snufflemat. These games provide a great mental challenge for your dog and help satisfy their scavenging and shredding needs.

enrichment dog sniffing snuffle mat

But in my opinion, the almighty snuffle mat reigns supreme and is the ultimate solution for busy dog owners.   

Dogs have a natural instinct to forage and search for food, and a snuffle mat can provide them with the opportunity to engage in this behavior while inside the house. It's a great way to keep your dog mentally stimulated and engaged, even when they can't go for a walk or play outside.

Snuffle mats are designed to mimic the experience of foraging for food in the wild. They are typically made of a soft, fabric material and have lots of nooks and crannies for hiding treats or kibble. 

You can check out our full collection of Snuffle Mats and Interactive Toys we are sure your dog will love right here

Chewing and Licking Games 

An often overlooked aspect of a happy and healthy dog's enrichment time are activities where they get to chew and lick things (That is a bizarre one to write). Items such as stuffed and frozen Kong Toys are always a hit, but other chews like frozen raw bones, bully sticks, and antlers are also great options.

enrichment activity dog kong
And the final activity for this blog, and the one I know you both will have the most fun with is... (cue up drumroll!)

Hide And Seek

Playing hide and go seek with your dog can be one of the most fun and rewarding enrichment activities that you can do together. This game is not only entertaining, but it also provides an excellent opportunity for your dog to engage in their natural instincts of scavenging and searching for things, and lets you progressively make it more difficult based on how you both are feeling.

To start, have your dog sit and wait (if you are doing this inside make sure to close the door as I have found my dog will push his little nose out of of the door and peek!) while you hide in a designated area of the house or backyard. Then, call out their name and wait for them to ask for them to find the hidden toy.

Enrichment activity.- hide and go seek- with dogThe undisputed hide and go seek champion being hoisted! 

This game provides mental stimulation for your dog and can help to build their problem-solving skills. It also strengthens the bond between you and your dog.

It's a great way to spend quality time together and create a fun, positive experience for both of you. Seeing your dog's excitement and eagerness to find you can be incredibly rewarding and can provide a sense of satisfaction in knowing that you are providing them with an enriching and fulfilling experience.

The game also provides a great opportunity for training, such as practicing recall or reinforcing obedience commands. 

A Few Final Words 

Remember to introduce new enrichment activities slowly and make them accessible for your dog. And if your dog is struggling with their environment, it's always okay to substitute a stressful walk for a fun and calming enrichment activity.

Enrichment helps build confidence, problem-solving skills, and perseverance when done right. So, let's make sure we incorporate it into our dog's daily routine and watch them thrive!

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For more helpful resources for you and your dog, check out our blog and resources page

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