Those that have done any training with me will know I talk a lot about the balance of mental and physical exercise for our dogs. So many of us focus quite rightly on giving our pets the right amount of exercise through their daily walks, that sometimes canine enrichment can be overlooked.
But what is canine enrichment and why is it important?
Quite simply it’s keeping your dog mentally stimulated and challenged. If we keep our dogs’ brains active, it can help to stave off all sorts of issues related to boredom in the home. It also helps to increase their problem-solving abilities; it encourages calmness, concentration and ultimately leads to a more emotionally balanced and confident dog.
My top tips for introducing more mental stimulation to your dog
Ditch the bowl!
For anyone feeding dry food to their dog, this is a really simple way to make their meals last longer and become stimulation for them at the same time. Take a small handful of their food and scatter on the ground in front of them, so they can see what you have done. Let them sniff the food out. Once they get the idea you will be able to scatter more food across a wider area. It’s great to make their meal time a much more rewarding experience. Watch their tail as they search to find the treats!
There are plenty of different toys on the market in our local pet shops and online. Toys that involve your dog working out how to release a treat are always good but remember not to make it too challenging for them too soon, otherwise it could become frustrating for them. You can even make your own toys. Use an old cardboard box stuffed with newspaper and hide treats within, for example.
Dog sports and playing games
Play is an amazing way to increase the bond with your dog and to communicate better between the two of you. Teach your dog how to find treats/toys and play hide and seek. Take a toy with you on a walk and play with them on a walk. Or perhaps find a sport you could both do together - agility, tracking, running or scent work, are just some.
For more tips or advice, please do get in touch.