3 Easy Ways to Add Enrichment to your dog's life in 2023
Serve their meals in a food puzzle. Ideally daily, but even a couple times a week will help. Most companion dogs do not get nearly enough mental stimulation. Boredom can cause many behavioral problems. By making them work for their food, you will challenge their brain, break up the boredom of the couch between walks, and let them do what comes naturally for them, searching and scavenging. Solving a task like this will also help them build their confidence. You have to feed them anyway, just serve it in a different way. Almost no extra effort for you.
✅DECOMPRESSION WALKS. This just means taking your dog to a nice non-stressful area and letting them sniff and explore on their terms. No agenda. No destination. Let their nose lead the way. These can work wonders for your dog’s mental health by lowering their stress levels. Studies show that cortisol levels in dogs are lower even after short sniff sessions. I guarantee they will be very relaxed and content after even a twenty-minute decompression walk. Work in as many as is reasonable and attainable but at least a couple of times a week. You don’t always have to cover lots of distance on walks. You’re out there walking them any way, so listen to your favorite podcast and let your dog do their thing.
✅SHOW THEM WHAT THEY SHOULD DO INSTEAD. This one is especially important if you have a puppy or newly adopted adult dog. Dogs do not inherently know what they SHOULD be doing. Many people tell their dogs “no” to unacceptable things but don’t show them what they should be doing instead. Example: dog is chewing on baby’s toy. Most will take baby toy away and say no. Instead, trade it out. Take baby’s then give them some thing they are allowed to chew on, like their kong. Example: dog is sitting on couch and you don’t want them on couch. Instead of just telling your dog to get off the couch, lead them off the couch to their spot (mat, bed, acceptable furniture) and give them positive reinforcement (treat, kong , toy, pets) when they sit there. Always give an alternate behavior.