- Blair Bunker
Stimulation & Enrichment
Providing your dog with the right amount of stimulation and enrichment each day is so important for your dogs physical and mental health.
What does that mean? It means that exercise, learning, games, social outings and exploring will go a long way in keeping your dog’s body fit and their mind stable.
Genetic Influences- What breed of dog do you have? Have you researched the breed(s) to determine what level of exercise and mental stimulation your dog might benefit from most? To break it down a bit, each breed falls into a grouping of breeds bred for specific traits. Groupings- Working, Sporting, Herding, Hound, Non Sporting, Toy and Terrier. The working group dog breeds are large in size, powerful, intelligent and are often used for police work, search and rescue and guarding while the Toy group dog breeds are small, affectionate, adaptable and are used as companion dogs. Each group, and individual breed, will vary in their stimulation and enrichment needs.. Learn about your dog's breed history and you will have a much better starting point as you determine what your dogs daily stimulation and enrichment should include.
When/How- “I just don’t have enough time”
We all make time for the things we value most- your dog should be on that list. It doesn’t have to be a 1-3 hour venture. 15 minutes here, 5 minutes there. It adds up and can make a huge difference. Like us, dogs need exercise and mental challenges to maintain a balanced and healthy life.
Think about your dog's energy level, social interests and working drive. What does your dog enjoy doing? This will help shape your daily criteria. Every day think of 4 things you can do for your dog that will provide them with stimulation & enrichment. Make a weekly calendar and check things off day to day.
Examples of Daily Stimulation & Enrichment-
Walk a greenway
Explore (sniff) a field/woods/beach
Go to a Petstore/Lowe’s/Ace/Brewery/Dog friendly shop
Playdate with a friends dog
Create a treat search game in house or yard
Puzzle toys/treat balls- check Amazon
Frozen, raw marrow/knuckle bone
Doggie Day Care ( for well socialized dogs)
Dog Sports- Agility, Disc Dog, Flyball, Barn Hunt, Dock Diving, Nose work/Tracking, Herding, Protection, Obedience/Rally, Bikejoring, Lure Course, Carting, Treibball, etc
Brush hair, nails, ears, bath, etc
How it Benefits Behavior-
A common phrase “A tired dog is a good dog.” is a frequent line used by trainers in relation to behavioral problems. Naughty behaviors are often caused by boredom or anxiety. Think undesirable chewing, barking, counter surfing, over excitement, etc. Providing adequate stimulation and enrichment will boost endorphins which bring about feelings of comfort, relaxation and euphoria.
Plan ahead and help prevent unwanted behaviors. Having a dinner party? Take your dog out for some exploring beforehand and provide a puzzle toy and frozen kong in a quiet place while your guests enjoy their meal. Kids have practice and homework after school? Bring your dog along for the ride and practice obedience while you wait. During homework provide your dog with a puzzle toy filled with their dinner followed by a treat search.
Create the best life possible for your dog by learning more about your dogs genetic influences, creating a routine you can stick to, offering a variety of stimulants and planning ahead to prevent bad behavior.