We tend to humanize dogs and forget that they have different needs. Canine enrichment is all about letting dogs be dogs, in a way that is positive and fits into our urban lifestyles. We love that people think of their dogs like they are children but some of their species-specific behaviours result in destruction, for which dogs are often punished or re-homed. Foraging, chewing, digging and sniffing are all natural activities for dogs that manifest in annoying and destructive activities. Dogs need a positive outlet to do these mentally and physically stimulating behaviours.
Most people assume walking their dog once or twice a day is enough exercise, but like children they also need mental stimulation. If you don't want your dog chewing the couch or digging in your garden, teach them when and where these activities are appropriate. Dogs will often become destructive out of boredom. Training classes are another great way to relieve boredom and bond with your dog so please check our website for the next agility or dog games class.
Chewing – Give them bully sticks, antlers or the Petstages Dogwood stick that is available at the centre. These types of products can also help clean their teeth! Make sure to supervise dogs when chewing and throw away any pieces small enough to choke on.
Foraging – Play a game of hide and seek with treats or even their meal in the house. Ask your dog to sit and wait/stay while you hide food around the house. Use your release word to let your dog go and find the food. You can also scatter their meal in the backyard and let them sniff it out.
Digging – Buy a plastic kids pool and fill it with sand. Hide toys or treats just below the surface and let your dog find the treasure! If you don't want sand in your backyard, head to a local park or beach and bury a few toys.
Sniffing – Sniffing is how your dog gathers information and makes sense of their world so go on a “Sniffari”. Dedicate one walk a day to just letting your dog sniff whatever they please. You can work on your leave its and walking cues while doing this as well. Follow their nose and let them lead the way.
Animal Antics carries a variety of products that can help keep your pup busy and entertained. Come by and check out our selection of work-to-eat toys! We carry products such as Kongs, Kong Wubba, Kong Wobbler, Kong Gyro, Tricky Treats balls, Busy Buddy Tug-A-Jug and the Busy Buddy Kibble Nibble. Mental stimulation is often more tiring than physical activity (not that this is any reason to neglect that) and leads to a happy, healthy dog!
~Kait Fox, Manager at Animal Antics Behaviour Centre