8 enrichment activities for your dog

We all know our precious dogs are smart, social and active. And just like us humans, they need plenty of physical and mental exercise to help them stay healthy and happy. That’s where enrichment comes in.

What is enrichment?

You’ve probably heard the word ‘enrichment’ dropped in conversation at the park or the vet. But what does it actually mean?

In simple terms, ‘enrichment’ is when you give your dog opportunities to explore and use their natural instincts — small things that enrich their life.

Enrichment activities can be a great accompaniment to the regular walks and cuddles you give your dog. You might want to start by offering your dog an enrichment toy with food inside to keep them occupied while you’re eating dinner. Or if they’re getting a little manic, you could calm them down with a snuffle mat.

Why is enrichment important?

Enrichment activities have loads of benefits for your dog, including:

  • engaging their brain
  • managing their energy
  • preventing boredom
  • building confidence
  • improving problem-solving, searching and agility
  • allowing them to sniff and chew appropriately 

Incorporating enrichment activities is easier than you think — and has lots of benefits for you, too. By helping your dog manage their energy, you’ll encourage them to behave calmly and help them practise good habits.

Times when your dog might need more enrichment

There are periods when your dog might need extra enrichment activities. For example, if the weather’s too hot (or rainy) and it’s difficult to go outside, you can keep your dog stimulated and exercised with indoor enrichment activities instead.

If your dog has a lot of energy, enrichment activities can give them an opportunity to blow off some steam (and stop them chewing your new slippers). If your dog’s got less energy, or they’re recovering from an operation, then some gentle enrichment can keep their day interesting.

8 indoor enrichment ideas for dogs

1. Play hide and seek

This one’s easy — hide your dog’s favourite kibble or treats around the house and encourage them to find it. The best thing is it’s fun for you, too.

Hint: try to remember where you hid each piece of kibble, just in case your pup needs a helping hand. (And to avoid the ‘what was that?!’ panic when you put on your shoe later and feel the kibble crunch under your foot!)

2. Make a snuffle mat or ball

Snuffle mats and balls are a great form of enrichment, building your dog’s confidence as they find their food. Who knew some knotted up rags and a few bits of kibble could provide an entire world of delight?

Check out our DIY snuffle ball tutorial to make your own!

For a simpler alternative, pop some treats in a rolled up towel — no crafting required.

3. Cook up the muffin tin game

All you need is a clean muffin tin and your dog’s favourite treats, or their tailor-made kibble. Add one treat or piece of kibble to each of the tin’s slots, pop a tennis ball on top of each and you’re all set.

Your dog will need to use their sniffing skills to find the treats and problem solving skills to remove the tennis balls. To give them even more of a challenge, you can put the tennis balls back into the slots once they’ve found each treat, so it’s harder for them to find the remaining ones.

Just don’t forget to give the tin a good wash before you make your next batch of blueberry muffins…

4. Repurpose a cardboard box

Wait — don’t throw that cardboard box in the recycling (yet)! Scatter some kibble inside, along with some screwed up bits of paper and smaller cardboard boxes (if you have them). Suddenly, it’s an immersive 3D puzzle that’ll keep your dog occupied and happy.

5. Give your loo roll tubes a new life

Reaching the end of a loo roll can, occasionally, be a traumatic experience. But there’s good news — that empty tube makes the perfect enrichment toy! Stuff it with kibble and treats, then fold over the ends to close, and voila! A toy to keep your dog occupied while you nip to the shop for a loo roll top-up.

6. Try a fillable toy

Fillable toys are great. You can stuff them with treats, your dog’s tailor-made kibble or even wet food, taking your dog’s play experience to new heights with the added promise of food. 

There are tonnes of options out there, including toys they need to pick up and chew, knock over, or solve — puzzle style. We particularly like the Beco Bone, which pairs well with our Cold-Pressed Duck Rewards.

7. Use a LickiMat

As well as being a great enrichment toy, LickiMats also help to slow down your dog’s eating. So if your dog’s a ravenous eater, a LickiMat could be the ideal thing to calm them down and give them a food-based challenge.

There are loads of options for things to put on a LickiMat, like wet food, dairy-free yoghurt and mashed fruit. Don’t miss our guide on how to use a LickiMat as well as our blog on the best LickiMat recipes

8. Try the cup game

We’ve all seen the cup game on TV or in films, but did you know your dog can play it, too? The cup game teaches your dog to wait for rewards, builds their scent skills and helps them solve problems. Plus, it kind of makes you feel like a magician performing a trick (white gloves optional).

It’ll take a little more time to get your dog used to this one but we think it’s worth the effort. 

Looking for more dog enrichment activities?

We regularly post new dog enrichment ideas over on TikTok, as well as our exclusive Facebook group, the tails.com Wet Nose Nation.

Visit our blog for all kinds of dog tips.

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