We all know that part of being a good dog owner means giving your four legged friend lots of walks and exercise. But sometimes we forget the importance of mental enrichment and stimulation.
We lead busy lives and often it’s necessary for us to be away from the home for long periods of time. But just like us, dogs like to be kept entertained and can easily become bored without enough to do. Boredom can lead to destructive behaviour and even separation anxiety.
We’ve put together a list of easy ways to give your dog some enrichment by providing them with games, toys and even using things you can make yourself!
- Puzzle feeders/enrichment toys – Using a puzzle or toy is a great way to slow down fast eaters and stimulate their minds. Feed your dog their normal meal in a go slow bowl or puzzle, or fill a Kong with peanut butter, cream cheese or treats!
- Muffin tin – This is a great way to make a puzzle out of things you might find around the house! Place treats/food in a muffin tray and place tennis balls on top. Your dog will have to use their nose to find all of the goodies!
- Rolled up towel or yoga mat – Lay out a rolled up mat or towel and sprinkle dry food or treats over it. Roll it up and let your dogs find the treats!
- Ice blocks and frozen treats – Freezing food or toys in ice cube trays or plastic containers can keep dogs busy for hours. This is especially useful in summer to keep them cool, hydrated and entertained!
- Washing basket game – The quickest and easiest way to create a quick game for your dog. Put treats or a toy under an upturned washing basket and let your dog figure out how to get them!
- Ball pit – This is a great game for puppies and busy dogs. Fill up a play pool with balls or plastic bottles and throw your dogs favourite treats or toys into the mix and watch them scurry around to find the treasures!
- Three cup game – This is a great game for dogs who like to follow their nose and have experience with scent work. Line up three plastic cups and start by putting a treat under one of the cups while your dog watches. Give them the ok to show you which one is the right cup and let them have the treat when they choose correctly. Once they get the hang of it, you can make it more challenging by mixing up the cups after you place the treat.
- Tug of war – Tug of war is a great way for our dogs to get a lot of meaningful play and exercise. Before you start make sure your dog has a good “drop it” or “leave it” command. If your dog gets extra rowdy or starts mouthing you it’s time to stop the game.
We hope this has given you some inspiration to create quick and easy enrichment games for your dog. For more information, read our article about why toys and play are so important.