Easy Dog
Enrichment Guide

Erika's

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Dog enrichment is an important part of having a happy and healthy dog. Enrichment is any activity that your dog finds naturally enjoyable and satisfying. Think of the things most dogs enjoy doing, like sniffing, digging, shredding, chewing, chasing, licking, fetching, ripping, investigating, scavenging, etc.

 

These are all things dogs enjoy because it is natural to their species. Having your dog engage in these types of enrichment activities will help prevent boredom, teach problem-solving, build confidence and curiosity while engaging in with the environment. 

Enrichment comes in many forms, but the main goal of it is to ensure your dog is truly enjoying the activity in a healthy manner. Not every enrichment activity will be appropriate for every dog. Find something that's a good fit for you and your dog.

Luckily, including enrichment in your dog's routine is easy!

Food Dispensing Toys:

These types of toys are ones that you can place something like dry food, treats, or some other pieces of small food inside of it. You place these toys on the ground and let your dog physically engage with it (by nudging it, pushing it, etc.) so they can get the food out.

  • Outward Hound + Nina Ottoson Puzzle toys

  • Snuffle mat

  • Kong Wobbler

  • West Paw Toppl (also can be used as a food-stuffed toy - see below)

  • West Paw Rumbl

  • Buster Cube

  • Snuffle mat (this is for scattering dry food or treats)

  • Busy Buddy toys

  • Omega Ball Tricky Treat

Enrichment Stuffies & Hide-A-Way Toys:

These toys provide enrichment without the need for food (although, you can certainly add some to increase the enrichment factor!) Toys like this allow for your dog to really "investigate" their toy. 

 

  • Zippy Paws Hide & Seek toys

  • Kong Cozie Pockets toys

  • Bark Box 2-1 toy

Other Non-Food Enrichment Options:

  • Flirt pole

  • Digging pit

  • Kiddie pools

  • Dog bubbles

  • Sniffing groceries or store bags

  • Decompression (sniffy) walks

  • Create a sniff box (put a few things from outside inside a box and bring inside to let your dog investigate & explore it!) 

  • Let your dog sniff your groceries

Food-Stuffed Toys 

These are toys that you can spread wet dog food or other spreadable food goodies on or inside of (and then freeze, if desired).

  • West Paw Toppl 

  • Classic rubber Kong - keep in mind what the colors of the toy mean. Red is for average chewers, black is for power chewers, purple is for senior dogs, and light pink/light blue is for puppies. 

  • LickiMat/lick mat

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Some DYI ​Enrichment Options:

The good news about enrichment, is that aside from the array of toys available to purchase, you can also just use stuff you have around the house:

  • Use empty paper towel or toilet paper rolls to hide dry food/treats inside

  • Use a cupcake tin to scatter dry food/treats in

  • Scatter some dry food/treats over a towel and then fold it up like a burrito

  • Play hide & seek with some food or toy rewards around your house or yard

  • Toss some food rewards inside of your dog's toy bin for them to find

  • Toss your dogs dry food or a handful of treats into the grass or your yard for your dog to search for

  • Fill a cardboard box with some toys and treats for your dog to find (I call this a "dog enrichment box")

  • Toss some food/treats in an empty egg carton and close. BONUS TIP: lightly tape the carton closed if your dog is more advanced

Ingredient Recommendations for Food Toys

  • Kibble/dry dog food

  • Wet dog food 

  • Raw or freeze dried raw mixtures

  • Peanut butter (ensure it doesn't have Xylitol in it)

  • Yogurt

  • Baby food

  • Blended or mashed fruits/veggies

  • Applesauce (without extra sugars)

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Some Enrichment Video Examples

For more enrichment and toy recommendations, check out my Instagram Enrichment Highlights HERE and HERE.

Download my "Enrichment Awards" handout HERE.

Listen to my "Dog Enrichment 101" Podcast Episode: HERE