Environmental enrichment is the art of transforming your dog’s surroundings into experiences by getting him to behave according to his natural instincts. Many pups display unpleasant behaviors such as aggression, having accidents in the house, or shredding your favorite slippers. If you have an otherwise healthy dog who begins to act up, one of the first things to consider is his lifestyle.
Your pup is lucky to have a loving home and roof over his head, but you may be able to increase his happiness and save your furnishings by using this environmental enrichment checklist: Food-based enrichment: Dogs have a strong urge to hunt for their food. A domesticated pooch doesn’t have to hunt leaving them a lot of “free time.” You can provide hunting/foraging opportunities the home by hiding your dog’s food around the house or out in the yard and having him hunt to find it. You mayneed to walk him through the exercise for the first few meals, but most pups will catch on very quickly. Or, use a toy like a Kong to hide food inside. For an especially fun game, try wrapping a chew in non-toxic paper and placing it in a cardboard box. Allow Fido to ‘unwrap’ his present by destroying it — don’t forget your camera! Sensory enrichment: This involves stimulating some or all your dog’s.
Try rubbing some herbs on your dog’s favorite toy for a little bit of novelty. Switch up your pet’s food every now and then if his tummy can handle it. Leave the radio on when away from home.
Keep a window cracked for him to catch smells. Try switching up the walk route and letting your pet “stop and smell the roses.” The more new and interesting things your dog takes in daily, the happier he’ll be.
Novel objects: Buy several toys for your dog and keep them on rotation to offer playtime variety. Balls behave like prey and roll away, a behavior dogs love. They also like squeaky toys and other toys that make noise when moved. Some dogs like playing Fetch, some dogs like tug-of-war. The best rule of thumb is to know your dog and what his likes are.
Social enrichment: As natural pack animals, dogs are social creatures, happiest when interacting with other living things. Social interactions are key to learning good behavior and keeping your dog entertained and comfortable. Adding a furry friend to the home can help put a lonely dog at ease. If that’s not an option, provide social enrichment for your dog by engaging with him yourself. Talk to your dog. He may not understand you, but he’ll know you’re talking to him. Additionally, always set aside daily play time.
Positive training: The best thing about training a dog is that you can challenge his mind and that’s important to his overall health and well-being. Using positive words of encouragement, ample praise, and even a tasty reward no and then you can teach your old dog new tricks.
Remember, keep it positive and fun.