Enrichment to the Rescue! by Brittany Wingfield

In this blog, learn ways to increase your dog’s mental exercise!

Sometimes our dog’s normal exercise routine gets thrown off – after an injury, surgery or just with age. A dog who can’t get their physical needs met can be quite difficult to live with! One of the ways we can help is to increase our dog’s mental exercise, or enrichment. Here are 6 ways to help mentally enrich your dog:

Introduce new smells – This can be a great addition to your dog’s normal routine. You can use things you have around your home that could be novel: perfumes, citrus, spices (only smelling – no ingesting!). Animal/hunting lures can provide a fresh new take to your back yard! Walking in new neighborhoods or parks can provide new smells for your pup.

Take your dog on a field trip – Ramps can help your dog get in and out of the car much easier for older or recovering dogs. There are many dog friendly store you can visit to give your pup some new scenery to take in. Often bookstore, home improvement, pet stores and plant nurseries are happy to have dog visitors, always call the specific location ahead of time to ensure they’re a pet friendly store.

Add a few ingredients to your dog’s bowl – Exposing your dog to tasty new things can be exciting for them. New chews, flavors and texture can really activate your pups brain!

Provide novelty – Having toys and chews is certainly important to fill in the lack of exercise gap. However, giving your dog every chew and toy they have can leave them bored, quick. An item being new or novel can oven times create a lot of interest, having a bunch of items you can rotate for your dog can be super beneficial in keeping things fresh and fun.

Solve a puzzle – Food puzzles can be a great way to encourage and challenge your dog. Many puzzles have varying degrees of difficulty. Start easy, then gradually make the puzzle more difficult as your pup gets the hang of it. Don’t underestimate the beauty of “trash” – paper towel tubes, boxes and egg crates are some good, shreddable puzzle feeders!

Incorporate Training – Engaging your dog’s brain in learning a new behavior and help to run out some energy! Some good low movement/energy behaviors can be teaching: a shake, a chin rest, rolling onto their side for veterinary exams, even an online nose work class can be beneficial.

While in a perfect world our dogs would be able to run around until their heart’s content – that may not always be an option. We hope these tips and tricks can help you bring enrichment to the rescue for you. For more enrichment information take a look at our Online Enrichment Seminar.