5 Household Items You Can Use for Dog Enrichment
Dog enrichment doesn’t have to be difficult, or require expensive equipment. Grab a few items you already have on hand plus some treats or kibble and engage your pup’s innate behaviors, like smelling, chewing, scavenging. It’ll exercise their brain, encourage them to problem solve, learn new skills and build their confidence.
What. Dish towel or bath towel and a handful of treats.
How. Lay the towel on the ground and toss treats on it. Roll the towel up and let your pup unroll it to earn their treats. Another option is twirl the towel to make little ridges for them to forage through.
Dinner in a Bag
What. Paper bag (lunch-sized or save your take-out bags) and kibble or treats.
How. Toss their kibble in the bag and fold the top over. Place it on the floor and let them have at it. As their skills build, you can fold the bag over more times and make it tougher for them to unroll or tear through if that’s more their style.
Muffin Tin Treats
What. Muffin tin (any size), tennis balls or dog toys and a handful or two of small treats — try tossing a veggie in the mix.
How. Fill each muffin cup with a few treats and cover with your pup’s toys and balls. Basically, anything that will create an obstacle for them to work to get that treat. Use different flavor treats and see if they seek any out before others.
Three Cup Trick and Treat
What. Solo cups, paper cups, muffin tin liners, leftover plastic easter eggs or anything else that will cover a treat or two.
How. Put treats on the ground and place the solo cup upside down over it. Ask your pup to find it and let them use their nose (or paw) to find the hidden treat. Once they figure out the game, you can hide the treats and move the cups around to make it more difficult — think three-card monte. You can also line up the cups like bowling pins with treats under some and have them seek out the one(s) with treats.
What. Cardboard box, paper packaging fill, cardboard from empty toilet paper or paper towel roll. Any paper recyclables will do.
How. Fill the cardboard tubes with treats. If you’ve stockpiled a whole lot of paper tubes, you can fill a bunch of them — either inside of a box, or lightly close the ends. If using a box, toss in some treats and the paper filler in layers to make them work a little harder — you can also toss some of their toys in to create additional obstacles. If you’ve got a little bit of everything, you can make a snuffle box. Stand tubes up in the box, layer the paper filler around the tubes and sprinkle treats throughout.
There are so many benefits to dog enrichment since it provides both mental and physical stimulation. Dogs are incredibly smart and they need mental exercise as much as physical. Particularly during times of year when they’re stuck inside. Giving your dog a mental workout with enrichment burns off excess energy, provides entertainment, prevents problem behavior and can even calm them in stressful situations (e.g., storms).