Enrichment means providing animals with a daily environment that is varied, interesting, and stimulating. Variety in the environment gives the animals the opportunity to think and to explore their space. Below are some easy activities that you can use to provide your pet with that much need stimulation.
- Egg Cartons or Ice cube trays – Place treats in some or all the cups. To make more challenging rubber band the egg carton closed or cut in half and stack like a puzzle.
- Cup flip rod – Take bottles or cups or yogurt containers and cut 2 holes in a row and thread on a tension rod then secure tension rod in a doorway or stairway. If you are good at wood working you can even make a stand out of wood and use PVC pipe as the rod. Once you have a Flip Contraption prepared, add treats to some or all the cups and the dog flips the cups with nose or paws to dump out the treats.
- Wrapped boxes – take empty boxes (cereal, crackers, shoe, cookies, Kleenex, etc) and put treats inside and wrap it with wrapping paper or newspaper or weekly mailed circulars.
- Paper ball roll up – take wrapping paper, tissue paper, newspaper or weekly mailed circulars and put treats in the flat paper then crinkle up into a ball for the dog to rip up to earn the treats.
- Bottle party – a box filled with bottles or balls or paper or even foam cups. Throw in treats and dog digs them out or dumps the box to earn treats.
* Variation – Bottle Party in a Bag: Take a cloth bag and put empty bottles in the bag and add treats.
- Muffin tin/Drink Carrier – place treats in some or all of the cups and cover with tennis balls or paper balls (see #4) for extra treat rewards. Cardboard drink carriers are great to use for dogs who like to tear things up.
- Paper bags – take lunch bags or paper grocery bags and throw in some treats and fold close the top and give to dog to tear and dig or rip open.
- Rolls in a box/Loaf Pan – Take toilet paper rolls and place in a box or loaf pan. Add treats into the tubes. Dog digs out, removes each roll or dumps container to get treats.
- Tear Box variation – Place torn up stuffed animals, milk jugs, pop and water bottles, paper, tug toys, anything I don’t mind him
chewing, inside a big cardboard box. He can dump and thrash the box to empty its contents and THEN he’s allowed to tear up the box too.
- “Easter egg” hunt – Take open plastic Easter eggs or small plastic containers then place in a box or a cake pan. Scatter treats inside container. Dog sniffs out treats.
- Toilet paper rolls – fold in one end, add treats, fold in other end to create a puzzle.
* Variation – TP Party Poppers – place treats in TP roll, wrap with paper and twist the ends
- Twisted towel – lay out a towel, put treats inside towel, roll and twist up or fold towel adding treats to the folds.
- Scent Trail: Lay out a trail of tiny treats, Hansel and Gretel style.
- Blowing bubbles – can provide something interesting and new to look at.
- Magic cup flip – couple ways to play:
* Put treats under a few cups or yogurt containers and allow dog to knock over cups to find treats, bowling style
* Set up 3 cups. Put treats under a one cup or yogurt containers and DO NOT allow dog to knock over cups.
Instead add for a behavior, nose on cup with treats, paw on cup with treats then you reveal the treats once
dog indicated she found them.
- Do nothing, relaxation game – place dog on a blanket. As soon as the dog lies down, pet him and say “good.” Only pet for a minute and stop if the dog gets up again. If the dog continues to relax, occasionally reach down and pet him but do not continuously pet the dog. Session to last 10 minutes.
- Reading and Relaxing – read aloud for 15 – 30 minutes.
- Puzzle Games – Kongs, Wobblers, Treat Dispensing Balls, Snuffle Mat, Slow Feeders
- Frozen Enrichment Container – take a left over container and smear peanut butter on the bottom and sides,
sprinkle in some kibble and/or treats and even add a toy, cover with water or low sodium broth then place on the
lid and freeze.
Article provided by Lisa Bartel, CPDT-KA
Activities inspired by the ASPCA, Animal Friends Resource Center, Turid Rugass, Anne Lill Kvam, and Sue Sternberg.