Enrichment Ideas

by Lizzie Ashton // October 2017

Enrichment Ideas

Having fun with our dogs is so important for creating a strong owner-dog bond. Providing different enrichment for our dogs provides a fun task for them whilst giving them mental stimulation.  The mental stimulation enrichment can provide is equally as important as physical exercise. Just 20 minutes can be the equivalent of 1 hour of physical exercise in terms of tiring them out. After training classes many of our owners report their dogs going home and falling straight to sleep. Some even report a snooze in the car on the way home!

Training is a great form of enrichment. How about trying to teach your dog a new trick like a spin, hand touch or step-up onto an item? Learning new things is very stimulating for our dogs as they have to work out what we want from them. Always think about how you can break a new trick down into small achievable parts, rewarding your dog as they get closer to the end goal. This makes it easier for our dogs to work out what it is we want from them.

Simple problem solving games are another great form of enrichment. They can prevent boredom and other potential attention seeking behaviours by giving our dog a focus. Successful problem solving is a really big confidence booster for any dog, and it also helps strengthen the bond between owner and dog as it involves a lot of working as a team. Using a clear tub and hiding a treat behind so your dog has to find it can be a good problem solving game: sounds simple enough for us but it can be quite a challenge for our dogs! You can then progress to covering the box if they become super quick at it or hiding it under a towel or cup to make it harder. It’s also interesting as an owner to watch how our dogs go about trying to solve tasks!  Filling a box with balls and hiding treats or their favourite toy can be a fun idea too.  Stuffing a Kong with food can be a simple form of enrichment as pictured below. There are also some great tutorials on YouTube on how to make a snuffle mat also pictured below. Simply scattering some food in between the fabric lets our dogs use their brains and noses to acquire the food.

There are many puzzle toys on the market, so buying something new can test their brain power. Always watch your dog for any signs that they may be getting frustrated with any problem solving task and help them out if this occurs! You should always set your dog up for success so he understands the game and doesn't get too discouraged. There are always new things we can do, even if it’s just putting some dog biscuits in a cardboard box and letting them work out how to get to them... have fun and GET CREATIVE!

Classes can be a fun, new thing to do with your dog! If you wish to find out more about our classes or have any other questions please contact Sussex Dog School on: 01273 466977 or email: SussexDogSchool@dogstrust.org.uk

 For new training tips and tricks follow us on twitter and Instagram: @sussexdogschool and see how our recent pupils are getting along!