Dog Enrichment Products
Licking is a very important activity for dogs to partake in. It is important because licking helps dogs relax and calm down. Your dog should be given the opportunity to lick, can be in the form of a Lickimat or a food/treat filled toy (Kong toys are ideal), at least once a day but also after a stressful event eg. Vet visit, a walk in a busy place or if another dog snaps at your dog. Use under supervision.
Lickimats come in different shapes and vary in patterns
As we are all aware, walks are a very important form of enrichment and exercise for your dog. What is equally important is to allow them to investigate scents when they stop to sniff. Also, change the route you take and include new places as often as possible. Another inclusion should be a ‘Sniffari’, where your dog chooses the route they want to take you on.
Training leads like these allow the dog a bit more freedom to explore
Laying a trail by dragging something smelly around the garden and leaving a treat at the end of the trail as a reward is a great way of engaging your dog’s natural instincts. You could also hide food or treats all over the house for your dog to find. Both these activities need to be introduced to your dog so that they know what is expected of them. The best way to do this is by letting them see what you are doing while hiding the food or laying the trail, they can be placed behind a baby gate or held on a lead to begin with. When you release your dog, include a happy and exciting command (Find it or seek etc.). Once your dog knows what the game is, you can begin closing a door so that they can’t see where you hide the food.
Dogs get bored eating from a bowl at every meal, so it’s up to us to change it up for them. We can do this by using Interactive Feeders, lots of examples on the internet, or by using things we have at home. A few examples; a muffin tray with food in and covered with plastic cups, food in a rolled up towel, food in toilet roll tubes with the ends squashed closed or food hidden in several cardboard boxes around the house. Or even something as simple as scattering their food in the garden …….. The list is endless. Use under supervision.
Slow feeder bowls are great alternatives to bowls
Snuffle mats and pick pocket mats are good for foraging behaviour
Puzzle feeders really get the mind working and can be made or purchased
Flirt Pole: These are available to purchase as Flirt Poles or an alternative can be a lunge whip with a toy tied to the end for your dog to chase. This is excellent for teaching impulse control. There are some great videos online on how to use these poles.
Boomer Ball/Herding Ball: These are generally made out of hard plastic and too large for your dog to pick up. The idea is that your dog chases the ball and ‘herds’ it with its nose. Be careful not to let your dog unlimited access to this as dogs do not know when to stop if they are having fun and can exhaust themselves. Use under supervision.
Fly Ball: There are numerous clubs that offer this activity, which is an excellent way to exercise your dog and channel its natural prey/herding instincts in a safe manor.
Herding balls are good exercise and allow dogs to hone their herding skills
Flirt poles are brilliant for exercise but also impulse control
These are both very natural and calming things for your dog to engage in and the opportunity should be given often. Some dogs enjoy plucking the fuzz off tennis balls or fluffy toys. Chewing of toys is also beneficial but be sure to select toys that are not putting your dog at risk of breaking teeth etc. Use under supervision.
Toys should ideally be rotated daily to prevent boredom. Approximately 6 toys per day is ideal and these can be hidden around the house and garden for your dog to search for. Use under supervision.
If your dog is a digger the best way to keep them from destroying the garden is by giving them their own space in which to dig. This can be a children’s sandpit with lid or a section of a flower bed. To show your dog that this is where they can dig, simply put some new toys (which are only used in the digging area and should be rotated daily for a few different ones) and you can include some treats too just under the surface of the soil. Allow your dog an allotted time each day to dig in the pit and be sure to reward them for coming away from the pit when it’s time. Use under supervision.