Dog boredom is real, and it can lead to destructive behavior, stress, and even depression. Left without the right kind of dog enrichment activities, your pet may turn to chewing on furniture or tearing up carpet.
These are all clear signs that your dog needs more mental stimulation than you’re currently providing. Fortunately, there are a number of easy ways to help give your pooch a new lease on life. Implementing effective dog enrichment games can make an enormous difference for your dog—with the added bonus of keeping things interesting for you as well!
With so many different kinds of dog enrichment activities out there, however, it can be difficult to know where to start. In this blog post, we’ll explore five great ways you can improve your pup’s quality of life with ease.
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Create A Scavenger Hunt
One of the easiest ways to provide enrichment for your dog is by creating a new scavenger hunt every single day. You can do this in a number of ways. You could set up a distraction-free “magic wand” area in your home.
This is a place where your dog can feel safe being a dog. Or, you could prop up a cardboard box that your dog can climb inside. Or, you could simply designate one area of the house where your dog can be off-leash.
The key is to provide your dog with the ability to do the things that make a dog happy. As you go about your day, take a moment to make note of the things that your dog could potentially use for enrichment.
This could include items such as food puzzles, chew toys, a squeaky toy, or a ball. You can even include items that you’re not using any more like a cardboard box or an old T-shirt. These items will make a great addition to your dog’s enrichment activities.
Build A DIY Dog Puzzle
Another easy way to help your dog add a few extra minutes of mental stimulation each day is by creating a DIY dog puzzle out of an old paper towel roll or toilet paper roll. These are both great DIY dog puzzle options that can be accomplished in a matter of minutes.
You can get even more creative by adding a few slices of kibble to the inside of the roll, or by wrapping the roll in a piece of fabric. This can help to make the puzzle more enticing to your dog. If your dog is particularly high-energy, try adding a few puzzle pieces to each day’s puzzle.
This will keep your dog’s brain stimulated and will help to ensure he stays engaged. For dogs that show signs of anxiety, puzzles can provide a great outlet for that energy. If your dog is a chewer, puzzles can help to redirect that chewing behavior into something productive.
Add Some Scent Games
If you and your dog are both big fans of scent games, there are a number of ways you can incorporate them into your daily life for a quick boost of enrichment. You can add scent enrichment to your dog’s daily walk. By spraying a herbal essential oil like rosemary, eucalyptus, or grape fruit on the walkway or on dog-friendly sidewalk baking soda.
You can also use a scented toy or a scented Frisbee if you are out playing fetch with your dog. For indoor play, you can try adding a little of scented enrichment to your dog’s favorite game by placing a scented toy in the middle of the “field” or by spraying a scented liquid on a ball.
You can even add scent enrichment to your dog’s mealtime by adding a few drops of a scented essential oil such as clove, cinnamon, or peppermint to the dog’s food.
Buy A Snuffle Mat
A classic dog enrichment toy that provides both mental and physical enrichment is a Snuffle Mat. Snuffle Mats are blanket-like dog toys that are covered in different scents like coffee grounds, cedar chips, or peanut butter.
These scents are known for being particularly appealing to dogs, but they can also be beneficial for dogs’ overall health. Snuffle Mats can be placed on the floor, a dog bed, or even on top of a mat.
They are great for dogs of all ages and sizes. For dogs that love to smell, these are a great toy! They certainly help to keep a bored dog busy and engaged. A Snuffle Mat is particularly helpful for dogs that are in a home and may feel anxious or depressed. They provide an outlet for all that energy.
Hide Treats In A Shake Box
Last, but not least, we have the Shake-Shake Box. A Shake-Shake Box is a super-simple toy that you can make yourself out of an old box or container. Simply put your dog’s kibble or treats in the bottom of the container, put the lid on, and then shake the box vigorously.
This can really help to relieve some of your dog’s boredom and give him something engaging to do. Shake-Shake Boxes are a great DIY dog enrichment game for all ages, but they’re especially helpful for dogs with limited mobility or dogs that have trouble getting around.
Providing effective dog enrichment isn’t limited to one or two activities. It’s important to take a holistic approach to dog enrichment and to think about the way you’re caring for your dog on a daily basis.
For example, if your dog is spending too much time indoors, you can provide enrichment by bringing him outside more often, providing more mental and physical stimulation, providing toys for indoor play, and making sure he has enough social interaction with other dogs and humans.
You don’t need to make a drastic change in your dog’s life to help him get the mental stimulation he needs—especially if he’s exhibiting signs of boredom. With a little bit of creativity and initiative, you can easily add enrichment to your dog’s daily life.