Do your neighbors complain about your dog making noise when you aren’t home? Do you have a dog who tries to dig under or climb over your fence? Do you come home to a dog who has chewed up furniture, scattered the contents of your garbage can, or shredded his bed? A variety of different reasons can cause these issues, but the most common one is simply boredom. So today, I’ll give you some ideas to help enrichment for dogs to help them become healthier, happier members of your household.
As we humans go about our daily lives, it can sometimes be difficult to remember that our dogs’ worlds are much smaller than ours which is why it is important to provide enrichment for dogs. While we travel to jobs, meetings, and outings, our dogs are routinely left home. Even with a yard to roam in or toys to play with, our dogs will eventually become bored. After all, dogs are intelligent, energetic creatures. If we don’t find a way to occupy their minds and exercise their bodies, they’ll come up with their own ways of entertaining themselves, and no matter how hard I’ve hoped, my dogs have never blown off some steam by doing the dishes or vacuuming the house.
Instead, bored dogs are more likely to be destructive, noisy, or take off looking for something fun to do outside of their normal stomping grounds. This can lead not just to messes or annoyance but can also be dangerous for our dogs.
Five ideas for enrichment for dogs:
- Spend Time With Them
Your dog craves attention. While we can’t always be home with them, make sure to interact with your dog when you’re around. Talk to them, give belly rubs and ear scratches, snuggle on the couch or the floor. Just let them know you’re paying attention.
- Play A Game
Some dogs enjoy a game of fetch. Others love tug-o-war. I have one dog who loves to play soccer—I kick the ball, and she runs the length of the yard to chase it down and nose it back to me. Another of my pups loves to play with his flirt pole (it’s like a cat wand toy, but bigger and sturdier). Find the game your dog loves best and try to spend at least a few minutes a day playing with them. It’ll help get rid of some of their energy, and it feels good when we humans play, too.
- Teach Them Something New, Practice Something Old
Learning a new trick or an obedience cue is a great way to engage your dog’s mind and body. By using positive reinforcement methods, you’ll also strengthen the bond between you and your dog. If your best bud already knows a bunch of stuff, spend some time asking her to show off for you and rewarding her for getting it right.
- Invest In Durable Toys and Food Puzzles
When you must be gone, make sure your dog has something to do with herself while you’re away. Durable chew toys like Nylabones and Kong toys are a great way to give your pet a way to kill some time without killing your furniture. Food puzzles are another great way to provide mental stimulation—just make sure they don’t have small, breakable pieces that your dog might ingest if left unattended.
- Give Them Some Screen Time
Sometimes, just leaving a tv on for your dog can be a help. I’ve found that PBS Kids is a big hit with my dog Opus. He likes the silly voices and cartoons seem to be engaging to him. He’ll sit in front of the TV, watching Daniel Tiger until he falls asleep. The sound of the TV can also cover outside noises that may cause some dogs to react with barking or destructive behavior.