I left my office today at 4:23 (I looked at my phone at that exact moment). The reason for checking the time was because it was just so dark outside already! I love the magic of winter when snow gently falls, muffling sounds, and encasing the outdoors with a soft white blanket. I hate winter when I feel “trapped” indoors. If you are feeling stir crazy, chances are, your dogs are feeling stir crazy too.
So, how can we ward off boredom in our dogs? This is an important question to answer, because we know that when dogs are bored, they can resort to destructive behavior, they can become lethargic, even depressed!
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One way we can help to prevent our dogs becoming bored, is to provide them with a variety of enrichment activities. It doesn’t have to take long, cost a lot of money, or be too complicated to help challenge your dog. This will reward them when they help solve a puzzle. We’ll provide you with some fun and easy ways to stimulate your dog and also give you a chance to WIN some enrichment puzzles and treats to use to help get the party started with your dog!
An easy way to think about enrichment for dogs is by considering their senses.
A dog’s sense of smell is estimated to be forty times stronger than a human’s. They can get a lot of information by the things they smell. Why not use that strong sense to your advantage when planning sensory enrichment activities.
You can hide yummy and smelly treats under tennis balls in muffin tin, and have your pup use their sense of smell to locate where the treats are located and to “nose” their way to a tasty reward.
Cats aren’t the only animals that like cardboard boxes. You can also find a variety of boxes that you can arrange in the home or a room, placing some smelly treats in a few. Have your dog’s nose do the work to locate the boxes with the treats, praise them, and offer a reward. Mix the boxes around and do a few more rounds!
Different flavors, textures, and temperatures of treats can stimulate your dog, and provide a challenge. We enjoy freezing bone broth, chopped carrots, and blueberries in Kongs. The dogs are entertained for a long time as they lick their way to yummy, crunchy, frozen morsels.
We use toys that come in a variety of textures. Sometimes the dogs are given toys that are plush or fabric, sometimes they have toys that crinkle and crunch, sometimes we put a water bottle in an old sock for the pups to chomp on and smoosh, sometimes we give squeak toys that are chewy plastic. It’s all about spicing it up for them, and for you.
We’ve also been using the PAW5 Snuffle Mat when serving our pups their meals. Instead of eating out of a bowl, the mat is made out of pieces of fabric. The food gets nestled in the fabric bits, meaning your dog has to use their nose and paws to forage for their food. It rewards them for using all of their senses, including touch, for a yummy reward.
Stimulation, when it comes to sound, can occur in a few ways. The first is through creating unique sounds through specific toys, or training your dog to respond to whistles or other sound stimuli. Bean thoroughly enjoys Pridebites toys that have multiple squeakers. She's shown below really getting into a steak toy from pridebites. If you do want to purchase one, use code BEANPARTY for a 20% discount on your order.
Sometimes, sounds can result in over-stimulation and stress. Loud noises, sharp bangs, the sounds of other dogs barking, can all add to your dog’s feeling of anxiety. Try to be aware of your surroundings and think about “how would this environment impact me if I were a dog?” If the answer is, not well, you might want to consider making some changes. Helping to reduce the external sounds can reduce stress and allow your dog to focus on enriching activities at home.
ENTER TO WIN
How would you like a chance to win some fun puzzles and treats for your pup to use for stimulation and enrichment? Visit each participating blog listed below for more information about positive training.