‘WHY’ IS ENRICHMENT NECESSARY?
Canine enrichment helps your dog burn the energy they were designed to expend searching for food, shelter, and social contact. In our homes they have everything they need yet they often engage in behavior that is problematic for the household. This is because the energy intended for seeking out resources is not being appropriately utilized and so the dog now spends it engaging in problematic behavior. To resolve this issue we must intentionally provide our dog this energy that don’t involve destroying your furniture, chasing the mail man, or knocking Grandma down the front steps.
WHAT IS CANINE ENRICHMENT IS NOT
Although your dog can burn pent up energy by playing fetch or running in the yard, in reality this is only letting off short bursts of accumulated energy. These activities will not meet your dogs daily requirement problem solving activities. Running at fence-lines or chasing small animals can actually INCREASE your dog’s frustration because they are never able to realize the fruits of their labor.
Chasing a laser pointer could unintentionally cause your dog to become obsessive about ‘catching’ the light. This could transfer to other light reflections from your door or phone. It may seem like fun and games but it could literally drive your dog crazy! The dog park is not appropriate for dogs with social anxiety around other dogs or people. If the dog is alone and they are not actively engaged in intentional enrichment activities then they are likely engaging in stress or boredom related behaviors.
GOOD CANINE ENRICHMENT
Good canine enrichment is dog-directed and requires problem solving or searching. It has to be something your dog enjoys doing in order for it to reduce stress. Puzzle or Food Dispensing Toys such KONG are one way to burn energy. KONG Wobblers can be filled with dry food and this could be how your dog enjoys his meals when you have other obligations on your schedule. KONG Classics or Extremes are great for stuffing with canned dog food or Greek yogurt to give your dog some busy work. Rooting for their meal in a ‘Snuffle Mat’ made from commercial rubber matting and fleece strips is another way to keep your dog occupied.
You could save old shipping boxes that your dog can shred or even nest several boxes within one another that your dog must sort through to get his snacks. Canine Enrichment on Facebook is a handy resource full of ideas for providing busy work for your dog.
Alternatively you may be able to provide enrichment by taking your dog on a ‘Sniffari’ so they can decompress. A 15 foot leash gives your dog the room to explore and sniff his environment without the frustration of constantly running out of room. Sniffing activities are a phenomenal way to help your dog burn energy since much of the brain is devoted to olfaction. Any time spent sniffing, such foraging for food, is time spent burning energy so put that nose to work!
ENRICHMENT IN YOUR HOME
What’s an activity that you could incorporate into your dog’s daily routine to help them reduce stress and burn energy? When will you try it with your dog?
If you have any questions about your puppy or training program please call or text us at 913.712.8742. Join us remotely for our Weekly Q&A and Nail Trim sessions hosted on Zoom and streamed live through Facebook. On a tight budget? Check out our FREE courses available online.