by Sian Griffin // May 2017
What is enrichment?
Enrichment means providing your dog with things to do. This could be by giving them something that’s entertaining or creating an activity that allows them to use their brain, i.e. sniffing out their favourite treat. Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise, and your dog will be more relaxed if they have worked their brain hard. Giving your dog a job or a challenge can also help prevent problem behaviours, such as barking from boredom, stealing items to chew and hyperactivity.
We use enrichment to improve and vary our animals’ lives. It is widely used for captive animals such as in zoos or on farms, but also for our pets; hamsters, gerbils, cats, dogs, all pet animals would benefit from enrichment.
Enrichment ideas for your dog
An easy form of enrichment for our dogs is to vary how we feed them. We can use items such as snuffle mats to hide their food in; your dog then needs to use their nose to find the food, therefore using their natural instincts and their brains. We can also scatter food around the garden or put their meals in puzzle toys or in a Kong. You can make your own easy puzzle feeder by getting a cardboard box or shoe box, filling it with screwed up newspaper and sprinkling some dried treats or your dog’s food in there for them to find. You can use food enrichment for all ages of dogs, from eight weeks old to 18 years old and all of them will benefit from it.
Being creative with your dog’s enrichment is not only fun for them but also for you and helps to build a good and lasting bond along the way too!