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Enrichment Activities for Dogs

Enrichment activities for dogs are essential as they provide mental stimulation. Whether you have a puppy that’s full of life or an older dog that loves to laze around, enrichment activities are a must. These will help benefit their overall well-being and help keep their minds sharp and healthy.

Contrary to what many pet parents think, enrichment activities for dogs are not difficult, complicated, and expensive. You can come up with smart, DIY enrichment activities for dogs that will keep your furbaby healthier, happier, and entertained.

According to the National Animal Welfare Trust, enrichment activities for dogs improve and enrich a dog’s mental state because they are designed to contest and exercise their brains and mental capacity. These activities motivate your dog to solve problems, learn new skills, and become a more confident furbaby!

In this article, we have come up with a few of the best dog enrichment ideas to provide mental stimulation for dogs! We’ll share tips on how to build a dog’s confidence through and look at some of the best ways to provide enrichment.

dog enrichment activities, dog enrichment feeding

Frozen Foods and Toys

There are a lot of toys available that stimulate your furbaby and entice their appetite. There are toys you can fill with foods like yogurt to peanut butter and you can place them in the freezer. But you can think outside the box and fill the toy with a good homemade dog food recipe, salmon, mashed fruits and veggies, even meat to provide dog enrichment while feeding.

Your furbaby will love the frozen DIY dog enrichment treat, plus this will provide mental stimulation for dogs as they will be able to use their minds and bodies to get to that last lick.

Not only are frozen food and toys great dog enrichment ideas to entertain your dog, but they will also be able to help keep them cool and hydrated, especially on warm days!

Hide and Treat

Another easy-to-do enrichment activity for dogs is playing the game of hide and treat. This is where you hide your furbaby’s treats in treat-containing items and allow them to find them. Most pet parents place food or treats in Kongs and hide them anywhere in the house or the backyard. But if you do not have Kong toys, you may also use plastic containers, pouches, and anything safe that you can place the treats in for easy DIY dog enrichment.

One way how to build a dog’s confidence is to start with containers that are easy for your furbaby to open. As they become more confident, you can add more challenging containers to add more stimulation and dynamic.

Bubbles!

Who doesn’t bubbles? Everybody loves bubbles, even dogs! According to Pedigree, there are exceptional benefits when playing with your dog! Playing with your furbaby teaches them how to play safely and helps them become more confident in themselves. Blowing bubbles for your furbaby will encourage them to chase and pop and use a combination of their brain and body—an ideal enrichment activity!

Chasing and popping mysterious floating orbs can keep curious dogs active for a few minutes every day. They will enjoy jumping up and down to get to the bubble before it floats away, and the fulfillment of being able to pop a bubble will keep them focused. You may use bubble machines or the old method of blowing bubbles. Also, it is best if you use special dog bubbles to make sure they are safe for your dog to eat.

"Enrichment activities for dogs improve and enrich a dog’s mental state because they are designed to contest and exercise their brains and mental capacity."

Sniffing Games

Dogs discover the world through sniffing. According to the American Kennel Club, just as we use vision as our primary sense to understand more the things around us, dogs use their noses. The way something smells gives dogs more info and details than the way something looks, feels, sounds, or tastes. Your furbaby’s sense of smell is very powerful and can be harnessed in dog enrichment toys. Dogs have up to 100 million or more scent receptors in their noses, depending on the breed.

Sniffing games can be one of the healthiest enrichment activities for dogs and one of the easiest DIY dog enrichment activities. Allowing them to sniff in a new place for 10 minutes is more enriching than allowing them to sniff in an old place for 20 minutes. Sniffing may also help your furbaby calm themselves down and is a great way to help them de-stress after a long day.

Here are some sniffing games you can try out:

  • Hide or scatter treats all over your house.
  • Scatter treats in your backyard.
  • Take a new route when walking to the park.
  • Enroll your furbaby in a nose work class in your community.
  • Get a snuffle mat for dogs.

Snuffle Mats

Dogs are social, clever, and enthusiastic animals so it is important to offer them chances and opportunities to exercise both their bodies and minds. And what other better way to stimulate your furbaby than through a snuffle mat for dogs.

What is a snuffle mat? A snuffle mat is a dog puzzle toy that prompts your dog to sniff, search, and forage for treats hidden in the mat strands. Snuffle mats provide dog enrichment while feeding your dog and work your dog’s natural senses. Snuffle mat can also act as dog enrichment toys, heightening your furbaby’s innate abilities of sniffing and foraging. A snuffle mat for dogs may be made from fabric, rubber, or plastic where dry food, treats, and kibbles can be sprinkled into the mat for your furbaby to seek. In addition to providing dog enrichment while feeding, a snuffle mat for dogs can also be helpful in:

  • Stimulating and entertaining your dog, especially those that are going through surgery recovery and those who have mobility issues
  • Slowing down their eating habits to prevent bloat
  • Helping curb destructive behaviors like excessive digging, excessive chewing, and excessive barking
  • Helping burn energy for a calmer and more focused dog

One of the best snuffle mats in the market is made by Pet Parents—the Forager™ Mat. The Forager™ Mat offers you and your furbaby many advantages. You may use this as an enrichment while feeding your dog or as a slow feeding mat if your furbaby eats too fast. Other benefits that come with this snuffle mat for dogs includes the following:

  • Stimulating and entertaining your dog, especially those that are going through surgery recovery and those who have mobility issues
  • Relies on your dog's natural foraging instincts​ to provide rewarding, fun mental enrichment
  • May be used to replacing the usual dog food bowl​
  • Food settles differently each time making every meal a one-of-a-kind experience​, providing an enrichment activity every time
  • Uses SoftSnout™ materials that are non-abrasive to pet noses 
  • Requires no training for your furbaby to use it because they stimulate a dog's natural instincts
  • Strengthens your furbaby's strong sense of smell​
  • Offers a balanced challenge to reward ratio​

Tug-of-War

The game of Tug-of-War is a great enrichment activity for your dog as it involves meaningful play, exercise, and mental stimulation for dogs. You can use a tug-of-war rope to keep stuffed toys from falling apart. This is one of the the easiest dog enrichment ideas for many pet parents because most dogs love to tug and the only thing it requires is a tug-of-war rope or alternative toy.

You can even make your own tug-of-war rope by braiding together soft fabrics or even old T-shirts for easy DIY dog enrichment toys.

DIY Obstacle Course

Allowing your dog to get involved in obstacle courses is a rich activity that includes a great deal of exercise, enrichment, and socialization. If you’re wondering how to build a dog’s confidence, this is a great thing to try. You may start putting up your furbaby’s DIY dog enrichment obstacles in your yard and set up as many obstacles as possible. You may make use of cones, chairs, and other objects to teach your dog to weave around or over them.

You may have to start slowly and use positive reinforcement to help them learn how to navigate the obstacles at first. Using your creativity and imagination, the obstacles you can come up with can be endless! You can also look into agility classes for your dog if obstacle courses are an activity that you both enjoy.

Decompression Walks

What is a decompression walk? A decompression walk is a simple walk in nature where you allow your furbaby to move, run, sniff, explore, roll, chase, dig, and just be. Additionally, according to Sarah Stremming, a decompression walk is a walk where a dog is allowed freedom of movement in nature. In decompression walks, your furbaby may be off-leashed or may be on a long one to make sure they stay with you. These kinds of walks are enriching to dogs and provide them physical, mental, and emotional benefits.

Your furbaby will thrive best if they are given the things and opportunities to be able to use all their senses and innate instincts for brain games. From dog enrichment while feeding to fun games that you can play with your dog, take advantage of these dog enrichment ideas. They will help keep your furbaby entertained and provide mental stimulation for dogs. All these dog enrichment ideas will help build their confidence, heighten their problem-solving skills, and help them become well-rounded dogs, living a happier, healthier life.

"Snuffle mats provide dog enrichment while feeding your dog and work your dog’s natural senses."