Updated: Apr 12, 2020
What is Canine Enrichment? Simply put, it is how we can improve (enrich) the lives of our dogs through games, and mental stimulation.
As a dog's main sense is its scent, anything which gets their nose working is great. Whether, you are out walking and let them sniff every blade of grass, or use food in games where they have to sniff it out- you are working with their greatest sense.
At the moment, where we are limited in how long we can venture out/ where we can go so it is important to get creative in our ways to tire them out. Gone are 5 hour hikes with your dog, but by using different games (mental stimulation) you will find that your dog will be tired from just 20 minutes.
A tired dog is a 'good dog', and a bored dog is a 'naughty dog'. So how can we spend this time wisely, whilst delivering enrichment for our dogs?
There's a great Facebook Group: Canine Enrichment There are a tonne of different ideas on here, and whether that means purchasing some new toys or making your own then you will find something on here which suits you and your dog.
Although my 2 Greyhounds are sighthounds, they are very much 'scent hounds' too. I try and vary the games we play/ mental stimulation. Here are just a few ideas:
Feed their meals in a Kong (see video)
Scatter little treats around the living room (hide them under cushions/ under the rug/ under the edges of furniture etc.) and let them scent them out
Fill a cardboard box with toilet roll tubes/ bits of fabric/ newspaper etc and hide treats in there for them to sniff out
Put a treat in one hand, and let them sniff to choose which hand the treat is in
Teach them a new 'trick' and reward with food. (This tires them out mentally as they learn to process what is being asked of them). I have trained mine to 'place'- this is where they place their front paws onto an object (picnic bench/ sofa/ box/ random rock) at the command and are then rewarded for their efforts.
***If you have a nervous dog, or one which lacks self-confidence then it is very important to make these tasks easy. By making them easy, your dog can easily achieve them. This helps build their confidence. If they are too hard, and your dog fails then their already low confidence will be knocked even further.***
I would never stop taking mine for a walk- they really do enjoy them (as do I); however, I do include different things to make them more stimulating. If they want to sniff every blade of grass- I will let them; I throw treats into long grass for them to seek out; and I practice 'place' using rocks/ fallen trees/ low walls while we are out.
I would love to see any ideas which you come up with, so please feel free to share.