Canine Enrichment Activities For Your Dog

Canine enrichment activities - what does it mean?

Canine Enrichment Activities For Your Dog

You might be wondering, what are enrichment activities for dogs? Or, what exactly is canine enrichment? 

Canine enrichment is a term that gets thrown about a lot, but what does it mean? Enrichment by definition is the action of improving or enhancing the quality or value of something. 

So when people talk about canine enrichment, they mean improving the quality of a dog’s life via different canine enrichment activities that the dog finds enjoyable.

Image for a vizsla enjoying canine enrichment activities for your dog

Why do dogs need canine enrichment activities?

That’s a little bit like asking why humans like to watch TV, do crosswords, follow a sport or go to the pub. Regardless of species, we all need some form of entertainment in our everyday lives to be fulfilled and satisfied.

Your dog is no different. 

Walks, food, and cuddles are all essential. Adding in some extra canine enrichment activities for your dog, on top of these can really enhance your dog’s life.

Image of a pointer dog playing with a snuffle mat canine enrichment activity

Canine enrichment activities can help if you have a reactive dog who can’t be walked as much as you would like, or if your dog is ever injured and on crate rest or it can even help if you are unexpectedly ill and unable to keep with your usual walking routine.

Canine enrichment shouldn’t replace outdoor activities, dogs, of course, need to be dogs, however, sometimes substitutes can be necessary, and canine enrichment activities can help your dog to be happier, calmer, and more content.

Image of a Jack Russell puppy playing with a cardboard canine enrichment activity

What can canine enrichment help with?

● Prevent boredom

● Behaviour problems

● Reducing stress

● Mentally tiring a dog

● Providing breed appropriate outlets

● Increasing confidence

● Increasing problem-solving abilities

● Puppy biting

● Increasing frustration tolerance

● Behaviour modification planning

Imagine of a spotty dog enjoying canine enrichment with plastic balls inside a Hello Fresh box

How can you make your dog happy using canine enrichment?

The best canine enrichment will alter from breed to breed and from dog to dog. The most enjoyable canine enrichment for a Springer Spaniel might involve scent games and something involving using their nose. While a Border Collie’s greatest enrichment will likely involve stalking something with their eyes and a game in which they get to practice their natural herding ability. Know your dog’s breed and use what they were bred for when choosing some of your canine enrichment activities.

When it comes to enrichment and dog puzzle toys – I’d absolutely recommend a variety of different activities rather than using the same one or two repeatedly. Think about it, if you did the same crossword each day again, and again, it would become pretty boring. Therefore it would no longer be enriching your life.

Imagine of a dog in a daycare with different enrichment activities for dogs

Okay, so what puzzle toys are good for dogs?

On top of the usual, sniffy walks, playing with toys, and chewing which should be forming part of your dog’s daily life, we recommend using as much variety of enrichment with your dog as you can.  

Image of a black and white border collie with a wooden dog puzzle toy

Below are 5 enrichment games to try with your dog. 

Try a mixture of free and bought dog puzzle toys.

1. Treats in a towel.

Get a towel – sprinkle a row of treats – fold – sprinkle another row – repeat until can’t you fold the towel any further. Try folding the towel lengthways one time and widthways the next. Tying the ends together when your dog is ready to make the puzzle more difficult.

2. Snuffle mat.

If you enjoy making things, you can easily make a homemade snuffle mat for a dog out of a doormat and some soft fleece. If you’re like me and prefer to buy a pre-made snuffle mat click HERE.

3. Toilet roll box.

Instead of throwing out your empty toilet rolls (or you can use plastic balls like in the image above), save them for a dog enrichment box. Get a cardboard box, anything from a shoebox to a Hello Fresh box will do, and place your empty toilet rolls inside. Then simply add treats or even your dog’s normal meal and let them search and work for the food.

4. Find the toy.

Canine enrichment isn’t always about food. Try hiding a toy and asking your dog to find it and then play and have some fun with them when they bring it back to you. Start easy and at home. Once your dog fully understands the game you can make it more difficult. Then take it out and about and play it on walks.

5. Special dog puzzle toys.

Dog puzzles come in a range of different designs and difficulties and can help develop different problem-solving skills in your dog. Start easy and remember to help them out if they get a little frustrated at first. Wooden puzzles like these look much more stylish in your home than the plastic versions. Wooden dog puzzle toys help you to cut down on your plastic consumption too.

Image of a puppy eating treats out of a cardboard enrichment activity for dogs

Canine Enrichment and Your Puppy  

When it comes to enrichment for puppies, puppy owners often underestimate the importance of enrichment. Increasing enrichment activities, sniffing, and chewing generally makes what owners class as ‘puppy behaviour problems’ much less severe. 

Which results in both the human and the puppy being happier together.

I hope you've enjoyed these canine enrichment activities for your dog.

Imagine of a spaniel puppy and a dog snuffle mat

Canine Enrichment Activities For Your Dog is written by Dogs with Lyndsay.

Pet Psychology Practitioner and Dog Trainer based in the Isle of Man, UK.

Lyndsay’s other websites include:

Image of canine enrichment activities such as Kongs