3 Fun and creative enrichment activities to keep your pet stimulated - Shaggy Chic

3 Fun and creative enrichment activities to keep your pet stimulated

Dogs are social, intelligent and active animals. So, it’s important to provide them with safe and suitable opportunities to exercise their bodies and minds, during every stage of life.

This is where enrichment comes in – but what is it?

What is enrichment and why is it so important?

Enrichment basically means adding complexity and value to something. There are two main ways we can think about enrichment:

  • For learning: Enrichment provides opportunities to learn and explore beyond the basic curriculum. This can be in school through programs or clubs, or outside of school through hobbies and activities. Enrichment activities can spark curiosity, develop new skills, and make learning more engaging.
  • For well-being: Enrichment is also important for the well-being of animals in our care. In a simplified environment, like a cage or tank, animals can become bored and frustrated. Enrichment provides mental stimulation and physical exercise, which keeps them healthy and happy.

Enrichment is important because it helps us thrive, whether we are students, pets, or even just people looking to add some spice to our lives.

Choosing the best enrichment for your dog

When planning and choosing enrichment, it’s important to:

  • Ensure any enrichment is safe and suitable (non-toxic and appropriately sized. Plus, no foreign body hazards which could result in trauma to the mouth, throat or gastrointestinal tract)
  • Consider the individual dog, including their health, abilities and dietary needs
  • Think about their preferences – what do they like and dislike
  • Watch how they interact with the enrichment. Ask yourself, ‘Are they engaged? Do they seem to be enjoying it? Do they seem confused or frustrated? What can I change next time? If it’s too difficult or I see signs of frustration, how can I make it easier?’

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3 Fun and creative enrichment activities to keep your pet stimulated - Shaggy Chic

Enrichment activities for dogs

So, you know what you need to think about when choosing the best enrichment to offer your dog. Now here's some enrichment ideas that you might like to consider. While you may find their favourite, don't forget it's good to mix it up and offer them a variety of activities.


1.   Food-based enrichment

From their dinner to treats, eating food is likely to be one of the best parts of your dog’s day. This is why a food game with an enrichment toy is perfect for them and something that most will really enjoy.


There are several options. You could spread food on the textured surface of a ‘lick mat’ for your dog to enjoy calmly. Alternatively, you could get them a puzzle feeder. How about a rubber one that you pre-fill and chill to make it last longer?


3 Fun and creative enrichment activities to keep your pet stimulated - Shaggy Chic


Top tip: Make sure you supervise your pooch, just in case they need help. This is particularly important with any homemade food enrichment activities. Remember, you need to be careful that your dog isn’t gaining too much weight from regular food-based enrichment. If they are having this during the day take it out of their evening meal. You can always split their food allowance into portions and use in different ways throughout the day.

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2.   DIY Bird Feeder TV

  • Turn window time into prime entertainment: Cats are endlessly fascinated by the world outside. Mount a bird feeder near a window and create a stimulating "cat TV" experience.  For added fun, scrunch up some paper balls and let your kitty swat at them while they watch the feathered performers.
  • Safety first: Make sure your window is secure and your cat can't fall or jump out.
3 Fun and creative enrichment activities to keep your pet stimulated - Shaggy Chic


3.   Games with toys

Playing games with toys is beneficial to your pup physically as well as mentally. It also helps to build their confidence and will help to strengthen the bond between the two of you.


Here’s our top tips when playing games with toys:


Tip one: Rotate your dog’s toys weekly. This will keep them excited and interested in them.


Tip two: Let your pup win games. Your dog will enjoy it if you take it in turns and both win a few games each.


Tip three: Your dog may rip soft toys up – this is natural behaviour. Just make sure you are always supervising when they are playing with these toys. You don’t want them to swallow any small parts. If you do need to take away a part of the toy, swap this for a treat or two. Find out more about fair trade swaps.


Tip four: Dogs will naturally hold, tug and shake toys with their mouths. If you feel their teeth on you, stay calm, still and quiet to end the game. Then, calmly move away, if necessary. Take a short break and continue playing so they learn that the fun continues when their teeth stay on the toy.

3 Fun and creative enrichment activities to keep your pet stimulated - Shaggy Chic

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