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Engaging Enrichment Activities for Dogs
Nobody likes being bored – not people and especially not our canine companions! But dogs are a little bit tricky because they need a combination of physical and mental stimulation to keep them healthy and happy. And this is where enrichment activities for dogs comes in.
You may have noticed that sometimes physical activity isn’t quite enough to satisfy your pup. You take him for a 20-minute walk and at the end he seems like he’s tired out. But 10 minutes later, he’s found you in your office and sits, waiting, looking at you like, “What’s next? I’m bored.”
No matter how hard we try to tire our pups out, sometimes physical activity just isn’t enough to get all of their energy out. But something awesome happens when we add in some short, little brain games with the physical activity. Our dogs become so completely engaged that they really get tired out and can rest for hours at a time afterwards.
If you’ve been looking for a way to entertain and engage your dog so you can stimulate their mind and their body, we definitely recommend trying some enrichment activities together. Not sure where to start? Keep reading, we’ve got you covered!
1. Spin the Bottle
No, this spin the bottle game doesn’t involve smooching your pooch! For this game, all you need is an empty 2-liter bottle and a piece of string. Cut out two holes about two-thirds of the way up the bottle; the two holes should be parallel to each other. Thread the string through the two holes. Attach both ends of the line to something sturdy so that the string is taught.
Have your dog watch you as you place treats or kibble bits into the bottle. Your dog will have to use his brain to figure out how to spin the bottle, so the treats fall onto the floor. You can modify this game for big or small pups, and you can make it easier by adding more holes to the bottle. This game will keep your dog busy and entertained.
2. Hide and Treat
Dogs can play the hide and treat game anywhere, and it gets your pup’s nose involved with the fun. Take some of your pup’s favorite treats and hide them in various areas; this game can be easily played inside your home or outside in the backyard. Make sure you hide the treats when your dog is out of the room.
Want to make the game more challenging for your dog? Hide the treats inside a Kong toy, an Easter egg, or homemade containers. Upping the value of the game encourages dogs to try to open the item containing the treats or bring the item back to you: that requires some brainpower on your dog’s part. Please note that if your dog is a heavy chewer and you’re concerned he may chew these items, stick to just hiding the treats themselves to stay safe.
3. Canine Tetherball
Is your dog an athlete? Do games of fetch seem never-ending because your dog never seems to tire? Are you trying to cut back on your pup’s treats? Then the game for your dog may be doggy tetherball. Just like the old schoolyard game, the ball swings on the rope, and your dog can chase, jump, and bump his way to mental and physical exhaustion.
Making a tetherball game requires only a few items: a rope, ball, pole, and materials to mount and ground the pole. Your dog will love the constant chase, and your arm will recover from all those tennis balls you throw for your dog.
4. Bubble Fun
Remember how much fun you had blowing bubbles out of a wand when you were young? Well, your dog can enjoy that same feeling no matter his age. Bubbles are fun activities that encourage a dog to jump, chase, and bite at the bubbles in the air around him. The mental exercise involved with this activity allows your dog to stay present, as he will try to catch bubbles that float in any direction. It’s a game that will keep your pup on his paws.
You shouldn’t use regular soap bubbles with your dog, as ingesting too many may lead to an upset stomach. Instead, purchase non-toxic bubbles that are explicitly made for pups and come in various flavors, including peanut butter and bacon. You can also make homemade bubbles, so you know all the ingredients are in your dog’s bubbles.
5. Snuffle Mat
Does your dog always have his nose on the ground, sniffing and tracking? Then the snuffle mat game will appeal to him. A snuffle mat consists of a rubber sink mat with fleece strips knotted through the mat’s holes. You can purchase a snuffle mat or create your own as it doesn’t cost much but can be time-consuming to put together.
Your role is to place treats or food in the pieces of fleece, preferably food that has a strong smell. You want your dog not only to pick up the odor of the treats but actively search for them in the mat. Cheer your pup on as he sniffs, finds each tasty treat, and has fun.
6. DIY Obstacle Course
Many dogs love obstacle courses, but not every pup parent has a training facility and course near their home. That doesn’t mean you can’t bring the fun of an obstacle course to your backyard. DIY obstacle courses can provide physical and mental stimulation for your dog and you. Even better, this game strengthens the bond between you and your pup.
Take what you have around your home or in your garage to make some quick obstacles; for example, you can make a hurdle with a broomstick and two chairs. Obstacles such as the weaving poles and the teeter-totter require some creativity and PVC pipe. There are also many obstacle examples and directions online to make your backyard an obstacle course paradise for your dog.
Keep your pup happy and healthy!
Dogs can quickly get bored with the same games, so put a little zest in their step by trying something fun and new. While there’s nothing wrong with more traditional games, like frisbee toss or fetch, some variety will help keep your dog happy and healthy and increase the bond he has with you.
Make sure your pet stays healthy and happy by contacting Pet Insurance Review for a free pet insurance quote right now.
- Pryor, K. (2012). Fun Games For Your Dog: Spin the Bottle! Retrieved from https://www.clickertraining.com/node/3474
- Cheerful Hound. (2021). Dog Enrichment Game — “Find It” — Treat Treasure Hunt for Dogs. Retrieved from https://cheerfulhound.com/blogs/blog-hound/dog-enrichment-game-find-it-treat-treasure-hunt-for-dogs
- Old Salt Farm. (2021). How to Make Your Own DIY Tetherball Set! Retrieved from https://oldsaltfarm.com/backyard-fun-make-your-own-diy-tetherball-set/
- Jen. (2021). How To Make Dog Safe Bubbles: The 3 Best Homemade Dog Bubble Recipes! Retrieved from https://mybrownnewfies.com/2021/04/06/how-to-make-dog-safe-bubbles/
- Palka, L. (2016). DIY: Make Your Dog (or Cat) a Snuffle Mat. Retrieved from https://www.thehonestkitchen.com/blog/diy-make-your-dog-or-cat-a-snuffle-matt
- King, A. (2016). Canine Sports: How to Build a Backyard Agility Course. Retrieved from https://www.wideopenpets.com/how-to-build-a-backyard-agility-course/
The information contained on this blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's health care or treatment plan.
The authors of this blog are not veterinarians and do not claim to be experts in pet health. The information provided here is based on our own experiences and research, as well as information from reputable sources. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.
We encourage you to do your own research and consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions about your pet's health.