Just like humans, dogs need tools for enrichment. In their case, usually toys! It is essential for their day-to-day development and helps prevent boredom, anxiety, or behavioral problems.
Enriching your dog’s life may seem complicated, but it can actually be quite simple! Involving your family, friends, and home environment in this process can have a big payoff in the fun of enrichment activities.
What does enrichment mean for your pup? Well, it’s providing a stimulating environment that promotes your dog’s natural instincts, physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It helps provide enrichment to certain instincts a dog has that can go under-developed like digging, chewing, hunting, or scent tracking!
Enrichment toys can expand your pup’s instincts, intelligence, and promotes positive curiosity. The toys can help dogs explore: problem-solving (with puzzles), reduce stress, prevent boredom (which can lead to destructive behaviors), and lets them have an outlet for physical and mental exercise outside of playtime with you!
Mental and physical exercise is extremely important in developing, and adult, dogs. It gives pooches some much-needed socialization, health benefits, and coping mechanisms (for stress and anxiety).
Licking Mats are a great idea for dogs who experience stress and anxiety. The licking creates a calming effect for dogs while also experiencing a nice treat, like peanut butter!
Puzzle Balls can be a fun take on rewarding your pup for positive play. It will stimulate your dog’s mind as they try to get their treat out of the puzzle, but also teach them the value of reward!
These toys have a few different variations, but they are great for any type of dog! The Jolly Ball is especially great for the pooches who love to chase and chew on their toys.
Hide-and-seek is a perfect game to play with your dog to enforce the come when called praise and entertaining your pup’s ongoing curiosity!
For dogs who love a challenge or being active, an agility course is a great choice! You can DIY or buy objects for a customizable course. Try using anything from cardboard boxes, traffic cones, or water bottles, and get creative with the construction!
Digging is often frowned upon by dog owners, but it’s a natural instinct in dogs! Setting up a dig spot in a sandpit container or kiddy pool with dog-safe sand or dirt will let your dog dig (safely) ‘til their heart desires. Try getting them used to this specific dig area by lighting hiding some treats or toys for them to find!
Whether you buy toys at the store or make them yourself, you should always make sure they’re dog-safe and supervise playtime. Although most store-bought toys won’t easily be destructible, they most likely won’t be chew-proof forever. These toys, or their fillings, can quickly become a choking or swallowing hazard if you’re not careful. Throw away toys that are visibly torn, worn, or damaged, and supervise your dog when they’re playing with toys.
Be aware that some toys may not be fit for particular breeds. Brachycephalic dog owners need to be more careful with the toys their pups play with as they have more prominent eyes that can be injured by toys with objects that stick out!
You should also not what kind of chewer your pup is. If your dog tends to be an aggressive chewer, a more durable option would be best, like the KONG Extreme! But if your dog tends to inhale their toys, it’s best to not get something small enough to ingest or take it away when it gets to that point. Another good note to follow with more problem chewers is to avoid toys that look like household items, especially the ones they secretly like to sneak their teeth into.
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