Real World Enrichment For Your Dog

Real World Enrichment For Your Dog

"It's not enough to give animals things to do. It's not enough to create an environment that looks good to us. It is our responsibility to make sure that all of an animal's needs are being met."
— Allie Bender & Emily Strong, Canine Enrichment for the Real World

Enrichment isn’t just a treat-stuffed kong, using puzzle feeders, or Lickimats. Enrichment is simply meeting your dog’s needs, and there are many elements that every pet owner should consider, including: their animal’s environment, giving their dog agency, choice and independence, engaging in physical exercise, providing safety and security, and not being afraid to engage in natural behaviours, like digging or foraging, as well as social and mental stimulation. 

Just as our needs change as we blossom into different versions of ourselves, our canine companion’s needs will change as they grow old with us. Working out what your dog finds enriching is a life-long journey:

1. Environment:

You know, it's not just about letting your dog enjoy the good sniffs or giving them a view of the outside world for their daily neighborhood watch sesh. It goes beyond that – we're talking about creating a stimulating lifestyle that keeps them mentally engaged and offers some predictability. I mean, we can't always change our work hours or move to a new place, but we can definitely manage their environment to influence their behaviour positively.

Here's how you can start: set up a daily schedule for your dog with two or more predictable events. This will give them some stability throughout the day and something to look forward to. Also, take a look at where their safe spaces and beds are located. If they're in high foot traffic areas, it might be a good idea to move them to quieter spots. Dogs need moments of rest too, so let them have some 'me-time' to decompress and enjoy their space. It's all about making their lives enriching and fulfilling!

2. Independence through agency and choice:

As dog owners, we play a significant role in our canine companions' lives. It's like we're their control centre throughout their entire journey. Part of giving them a fulfilling life is letting them have some active choice. That means during their walk, they get to lead the way and take you where they want to go.

It could also be as simple as letting them pick between a dental stick or a snufflemat for some entertainment, or deciding whether they want to spend time with you or have some alone time in another part of the house. It's all about giving them agency – allowing them to be themselves in a safe environment. When they have the freedom to make choices, it helps nurture their individuality and keeps them happy and content.

3. Comfort and security:

Dogs are comfort-seekers, they crave safe spaces and security. The places that your doggos feel most comfortable in are often the places they feel the safest. In our household no blanket or cushion is safe from our greyhound, Archie, he owns one hundred per cent of everything and we just live there.

Greyhounds, like most dogs, love to snuggle under soft, comfortable bedding and adore the squishy softness of our Cuddlepillars. With a dual purpose, our dog toys add loads of fun to play-time, and anecdotally increase the occurrence of zoomies in all dogs. We’ve had customers write to us and express joy about how much their dogs obsess over our toys, and how much joy that brings them as their guardians. Many of our customers have let us know that our Cuddlepillars have helped to calm their anxious greyhounds, too which is an unexpected but welcomed benefit! 

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