dog using treat puzzle

What is Canine Enrichment?

Canine enrichment activity is a vital tool that enhances the happiness, health, and vitality of your dog. 

We all know how important it is to take your dog on daily walks or play at the park, but what about engaging your dog’s brain? 

Dogs get bored too

Most dogs sit at home all day while the hoomans are at work. If dogs are lucky, they might have someone come home at lunch and throw the ball a few times and give a potty break. While others might go to doggy daycare, so they are not home alone. 

Help your dog live a longer and happier life

But what if there were something additional you could offer that would improve your dog’s physical and mental health and help your dog live a longer life?  You’d want that for your fur baby, right?

Canine enrichment is a branch of healthcare that focuses on engaging your dog mentally and physically. You need to understand what it is and how to provide it, so you can be sure your dog is getting plenty in his daily life. 

In the wild vs. the domestic dog

Your dog’s wild ancestors spend most of their day hunting, foraging, and tracking down prey. They use their brains and bodies and get a reward for their hard work.  

Domestic dogs are often rushed on walks without being able to sniff or track. They have meals set out for them, without having to do any work to get it. They are provided for, but they don’t have to do much to earn their way.

The reality is, your dog wants a job. Staying at home all day can be very boring. Your dog, regardless of breed, size or age, needs mental stimulation as well as physical. Yep, that’s right; senior chihuahuas need a job too. 

Fight doggie dementia

Dr. John Morris at the Washington School of Medicine says that people who do crossword puzzles, play the piano or engage in other mentally challenging activities, make more connections between nerve cells, which helps us offset the effects of aging. Well, the same is true for dogs. 

Better behavior

Studies have shown that dogs that receive mental stimulation live longer and happier lives.  Canine enrichment improves your dog’s behavior by keeping his brain occupied. Without enough mental stimulation, poor behavior is often a result.  This can manifest as excessive chewing, pacing, whining, licking himself, or even engaging in fights. 

Offering enrichment

While every walk is certainly important, it can be made even better if you let your dog sniff and explore a bit. Your dog gathers information through sniffing, just like you do when you read the news.

Spend time with your dog that is free from distractions, where you are both engaged in an activity. Working together on tricks, agility, or exercise equipment can be very rewarding for both of you and truly enhance your relationship, which results in better communication and better behavior. 

More ways to stimulate your dog’s brain:

  • Teach your dog some new tricks.
  • Refresh with a training class; even you have a senior dog who has done it before.
  • Join a dog training club.
  • Do agility together.
  • Feed raw meaty bones.
  • Take your dog swimming.
  • Spend time using canine exercise equipment.
  • Play hide and seek with treats.
  • Treat Puzzles
  • Flirt Poles
  • Snuffle Mats
  • Stuffed Kongs
  • Obstacle Courses
  • Nose Work Games
  • Treat dispensing Toys
  • Sniff Walks
  • Provide a special place where digging is not only allowed, but encouraged.

With our busy lives, it can be hard to make time for an enrichment activity, but you can change what you already do (like how you do your walks or how you serve meals). A slight change will make a difference. You’ll notice that the two of you grow closer and happier, enriching both of your lives.

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