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My Top 5 Enrichment Ideas

You may have heard a lot of people talking about how important enrichment is for your dog but what actually is it? Enrichment is providing the opportunity for species appropriate behaviours and stimulation. This could be in the form of toys, activities or environments. Enrichment can prevent boredom, build confidence, and teach a variety of skills such as problem-solving, decision making and resilience. It allows them to sniff and chew appropriately which is a massive stress relieving decompression exercise for dogs.

  1. Licki Mat

The Licki Mat is a textured rubber mat that you can spread food on for your dog to lick off. Anything licking, chewing or sniffing for dogs is calming so these are great for stressy dogs or adolescent teens that can't stay still! If your dog finds Kongs a little tricky then these are a great alternative and you can make them harder by freezing the toppings so it lasts longer. They come in a variety of different shapes and patterns and they also have a 'Tuff' range. My favourite Licki Mat toppers are yoghurt, banana, wet food, cream cheese and squashed berries.

You can purchase a Licki Mat here

2. Scentwork

Scentwork is one of the most species appropriate behaviours you can offer your dog. Your dog has 300 million scent receptors in their nose compared to a mere 5-6 million in humans. Not only is it a physical exercise but it is also an emotional journey; filling your dog's brain with positive hormones and feelings. Scentwork is suitable for any dog regardless of breed, age or health status and it's something the whole family can get involved in. Scentwork could be as simple as hiding treats around the living room for your dog to find or it could be more advanced like detecting odours on objects, vehicles or rooms.

Read more about my scent work classes here

3. Recycling

The cheapest and probably simplest form of enrichment you can offer your dogs it to give them your recycling! Some dogs might just enjoy shredding your cardboard boxes or milk bottles and others might prefer searching for food in amongst all the packing paper. You can put food inside of toilet roll tubes and twist the ends for your dog to undo, poke holes in plastic water bottles (remove the lid first) and fill with kibble or give your dog your leftover yogurt pots/peanut butter jars.

4. Kong

A Kong is a stuffable rubber toy that your dog can lick and chew. These are brilliant for teething puppies as well as older dogs and they come in different ranges depending on age and chewing strength. They even do one for cats! Some brachycephalic breeds might find it hard to get their tongue all the way to the back but if you fill the bottom with something dry like kibble or treats then you can stuff the front half of the Kong with something lickable like yoghurt or baby food.

5. New Walks

It is easy for us to do the same routes and walks with our dogs particularly when our schedule is so busy but this can be quite boring for our dogs. Taking your dogs in the car on an adventure or even just turning right instead of left exposes your dog to a whole hosts of new smells, views objects and social interactions. Sometimes even letting your dog dictate the direction of your walk can be great fun. It can allow you to see your dogs preferences and where they prefer going.

It is important to note that enrichment is only enriching for the individual if they enjoy it! If your dog finds it too hard, is frightened or gets bored easily then its not going to have the desire affect. Each dog will have individual preferences as well, so it is important to change up the enrichments from time to time and tailor them to the individual dog’s preferences.


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