According to a survey by PDSA, there are 9.6 million dogs living in homes across the UK – that’s a lot of dogs to walk! Of course, it is vital that your pet has regular exercise and canine enrichment. How much they need will depend on their size, breed and energy levels, so it’s always recommended to do your research before committing to a dog.
While exercise is vital to help keep your dog active, it’s just as important that their minds are kept stimulated too. Providing mental stimulation, or canine enrichment for your dog will help to alleviate any potential boredom and negative behaviours, while still contributing to keeping them happy and healthy. If your dog has recently undergone surgery and is on restricted exercise, providing them with enrichment will be vital to help keep them stimulated.
Luckily, there are lots of dog enrichment games and activities that can help. Here are a list of our favourite ideas and some top tips to help both you and your dog to enjoy canine enrichment together.
Dog mental stimulation techniques
- Food Puzzles. There are various food puzzles available, including hide and slide games and snuffle mats that will help provide mental stimulation for your dog — while giving them a tasty treat too. With lots of options to choose from and the potential to make your own, you can find one that really works for your pet.
- Playing with toys. Most dogs will enjoy playing with toys, whether it be their favourite ball, tug toy or squeaky. Playing games with them both indoors and outside can help to keep them active and busy. As an owner, it will keep you entertained too.
- Send them on a treasure hunt. Either by using treats or toys you can set up a game of hunt for your dog around the home or garden. By sniffing for the treats that are hidden about they will be mentally stimulated as well as being kept busy looking for the treasure.
- Teach your dog a new trick. Teaching your dog a new trick or command can be really rewarding for everyone involved. All you’ll need is some training treats and there are lots of ideas online, including helpful YouTube videos to watch for inspiration. This will help to give your dog mental stimulation and each time they master the trick they’ll get a treat.
- Use stuff-able toys. Kongs and treat-dispensing balls are all great ways to keep your dog busy. You can choose from a range of treats too and why not try something new that they won’t have had before? Ideas include; apples (seeds and core removed), carrots, and bananas (only the flesh).
A top tip is to also fill and freeze your dog’s kong for a short time before giving it to them. This will help it to last them even longer.
Remember to be careful not to freeze over the holes of a kong — a top tip is to insert a straw or skewer through the kong before inserting the food and freezing. It helps to create a ‘funnel’ between the food and prevents suction from occurring.
Top Tips for canine enrichment
- Maintaining a dog’s exercise. Remember that walking your dog is the foundation for providing them with a happy and healthy life. Walking them on a regular basis will help to keep you both active and why not try some new walking routes to help keep it exciting.
- Toilet Trips. Your dog will still need to have regular trips to the toilet so remember to continue to take them to the garden regularly and to let them have a sniff about.
- Be treatwise. If you do decide to teach your pet some new tricks or play some dog enrichment games that deserves a treat, remember to still be treatwise. Allow for treats alongside their usual daily food ration. As well as your dog’s usual treats you can choose to give them some healthier options too. Carrots, Broccoli, Fresh greens and some fruits are all good tasty options.
- Stocking up. Ensure you have enough food and treat supplies for your dog.