The more enrichment available to a dog, the happier AND smarter they will be! What they find enriching varies.
Dogs NEED to use their brain, to solve problems, and to be challenged. Sniffing, foraging, chewing, digging, pulling, and tearing. There are tons of great and inexpensive ideas on the Canine Enrichment Facebook group.
Ditch the Food Bowl
Eating from a bowl is so boring! Either they inhale the food in 2.6 seconds, or they graze on it little bits at a time. Either way, it's not very interesting, not very natural, and not very enriching.
This short video explains why eating from puzzle toys is way more fulfilling for dogs than eating from a bowl. Food puzzles let them do fun things like sniffing, digging, chewing, and pulling in addition to eating. Bowls don't.
You know the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction when you solve a puzzle or figure something out? Dogs get that, too! They love working out how to get the food from the toy. It triggers the SEEKING mode, one of the core emotions described by neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp. It's that same feeling you get when unwrapping a gift or finding a Pokemon or a rare Hot Wheels car.
Better than a Bowl ways to feed your dog...
Rotate and Vary Toys
Toys get boring after a while. To keep them interesting, divide their toys into Teams A, B, and C. One team is out for a few days while the others are put away. They can keep their favorite "wubby" full-time.
Offer a variety of types and textures - rubber, rope, plush, crinkly. Individual dogs have preferences. Some household items can be fun for dogs (with supervision). Empty water bottles (remove the plastic cap and ring and take it away if they chew the mouth into sharp edges), empty peanut butter jars (let them clean it out), empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls (if they don't eat it), Amazon boxes closed with kibble inside (it will make a mess), old rubber tires hanging from a tree (some dogs LOVE hanging from them), PVC pipe, and so on!
It's fun to rip apart empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls. Best for dogs who don't swallow the pieces.
Empty Peanut Butter jars are an inexpensive bit of fun!
Toybox dump party! Dump the whole toy box! Only if your dogs don't fight over toys.
Sometimes dogs have a favorite, and that's ok, too!
Toys and Chews
Rope Toy (Tug)
Raw Bison Bones
Canine Free Work
Basically, an obstacle course for your dog. Different textures and levels, indoors or outdoors. Click here to learn more.
Hide & Seek / "Find it"
Hide yourself, a treat, or a toy, and let your dog use their nose to find you/it.
The possibilities are endless! Be creative! Even sniffing your Amazon packages is enriching for dogs. Before you throw something away, is it safe for your dog to play with? If so, it costs nothing to let them!