Have you considered how much time your loyal dog spends looking out the window, waiting patiently for you to come home? Unfortunately, life draws you away from your furry pal way too much, in their opinion. Instead of playing with their best friend all day, your dog has to search for other entertainment options, which may include gnawing on your favorite shoes or new couch. While you can’t supervise your pet every second, you can provide enrichment activities when you’re home to help ensure they’re content when you’re gone. The next time you’re looking for a fun new activity with your four-legged friend, choose one of the following. 

#1: Head out on a “sniffari” with your dog

Dogs have more than 200 million olfactory receptors, whereas people have only about five million. Imagine the world of scents that such a powerful nose opens up. Because of this incredible sense of smell, your dog gets much more out of their environment when they’re allowed to stop and smell the roses, so to speak. Dogs leave numerous scent markers to communicate with other dogs, and if your pet isn’t allowed to stop and smell the pheromones, they miss out on important neighborhood news from their canine pals.

For the greatest enjoyment and satisfaction during your daily walk, allow your pooch to stop and sniff along the way. Consider it a “sniffari,” rather than a strict exercise session. As your dog sniffs around, their heart rate will lower, relaxing them, and reducing stress and anxiety, providing them with physical benefits as well as  mental stimulation.

#2: Incorporate daily exercise with your dog into your routine

Daily exercise is a vital part of your dog’s overall health. Exercise not only keeps them in great physical shape, strengthens their muscles and joints, and reduces obesity-related health conditions, but also provides excellent mental stimulation. Change up your daily exercise routine to include walking, hiking in a new location, sporting events, trick training, and games, to ensure you and your furry pal don’t get stuck in a boring rut.

#3: Ditch your dog’s food dish

One of the simplest ways to enrich your dog’s life is to ditch their food dish. Your pet may seem always to be waiting for their next meal, which they quickly scarf down, and are satisfied for only seconds. Make your furry pal work for their meal, prolonging their mental stimulation and enrichment, by swapping their food dish for a puzzle. Whether you feed your dog canned or dry food, you can put their food in a rubber Kong, LickiMat, or a puzzle of your own design, to make them work for their meal. Freeze your pet’s food puzzle overnight to last longer, and provide more enrichment.

#4: Sign your dog up for a new class

Although you may have been thrilled to finish school, learning new activities is a fantastic enrichment opportunity for your dog. Numerous classes exist, often at your local kennel club or training facility, that cater to all skill levels. Explore a new course with your four-legged friend by signing up for one of the following sports:

  • Nosework
  • Lure coursing
  • Rally trials
  • Flyball
  • Agility
  • Treibball
  • Dock diving
  • Barn hunts

As your pet becomes more skilled, you can enter competitions for more exciting enrichment.

#5: Never stop socializing your dog

Many people believe socialization is a puppy-only activity, but it should be a lifelong process. Socialize your dog as you would a puppy by introducing them to as many new situations, environments, people, and pets as possible, in a positive manner. These new experiences will minimize your dog’s stress and anxiety in unfamiliar situations, encourage mental stimulation, and help them become a more well-balanced companion. Switching up your pooch’s daily routine, with a different hiking path, a play session with a new friend, or a visit to a new pet-friendly restaurant, for example, will provide a wonderful enrichment opportunity.

Dogs without adequate enrichment opportunities can become bored and destructive, and can go so far as to harm themselves. If your furry pal has been bored for too long and has turned to obsessive behaviors, such as overgrooming or excessive licking and chewing, contact our Walnut Creek Veterinary Hospital team. We’ll schedule your appointment to help your four-legged friend become a happy, healthy, well-adjusted companion again.