Your relationship with your dog is special. It's unique, valuable, and something you continue to build everyday. It's the core of living a great life together.
Enrichment is the key to this. You might think of enrichment as food puzzles and games. This is only the tip of the iceberg. It's really about variety. Variety in foods, games, routines, activities, walks, trips, people you meet, dogs you play with, etc.
And guess what - you can do it all, on a minimal budget. Here's 5 doggie enrichment ideas that you can do with your pup for next to nothing!
1) Walk in different places.
Going for the same walk everyday is boring. Same sights, same people, same scents. It's predictable. Take your dog somewhere new! Walk in a different direction, take a new turn, cross the street.
What's even better is hopping in the car and going somewhere new. Go park your car at a school, nature center, community center, park, shopping center, etc, and go explore the area over there. You'll never know what might become a new favorite spot.
Watch your dog's nose go into hyperdrive, start panting with excitement, and look at you with pure joy. You'll get to meet new people, new dogs, check out a new area, and maybe fall in love with the scenery.
Do this a few times a week, and you're guaranteed to have a more relaxed, happy and tired dog.
Cost: If you stay local, less than an 1/8 tank of gas, depending how far you want to go.
2) Change up your play time.
What do you and your dog do for fun? Do you play tug of war, fetch, or de-stuff the toy? Toys are great, and are super encouraged. But, some of the best ones usually cost around $20 and those add up.
Expand your play time activities. Play is engagement! So engage with your pup.
Play hide and seek, which works on training commands such as "wait" and "come." Play Simon Says and scroll through all the skills your dog knows and can show off.
Make your own food puzzles. An empty egg carton filled with kibble works great. Or, hide treats in a blanket, fold it up, and have your dog sniff it out.
Make your own indoor or outdoor agility course. Learn a new trick. Have a dance party. The possibilities are absolutely endless. Do different things - give variety. You won't feel too tired to play with your dog, when you look forward to the new activity too!
3) Make your own treats.
What does your dog eat everyday? Is it pretty much the same thing? What do you eat everyday? How many different recipes do you enjoy? Do you love to try new foods?
Guess what - dogs like new foods too! It's a great thing to give your dog a variety of food, not just for the different nutrients, but for the expansion of their taste palate. You don't want a picky eater!
Giving your dog new foods to try doesn't have to break the bank. It's really a matter of smart grocery shopping. Just grab a little extra of the ingredients you eat as well.
Try this: Get some meat (dogs aren't really picky about the cut, so choose anything), cook it, and cut it up into tiny pieces. Stick it in the freezer. Bam, you've got tiny training treats.
Make an egg omelet. Cut it up for a quick bite.
Did you know that a chunk of cheese can be cut up into over 64 pieces?
Take a can of sardines and mix it with a can of pumpkin. Fill up an ice cube tray with it and freeze it. You now have 12 treats.
Thinly slice a plantain, throw it into the air fryer with some oil and salt, and now you've got crunchy treat (for you both).
Think of all the new experiences you're giving your dog's taste buds just by switching up the treats. Does delicious food make your taste buds sing? Do this for your dog too!
Cost: Under $5, depending on what ingredients you want to get.
Enrichment matters. It's what creates a well rounded dog. It promotes confidence, and strengthens the bond between you and your pup.
Think of enrichment as variety. Bored dogs create their own fun...and a busy dog is a good dog! What will you do with your dog today??
Want more ideas for things to do with your dog?
Crave some variety? Something unique?
Check out Doggie Recreation & Resources, your online doggie enrichment center.
In here you'll find:
- A new enrichment class each month
-Dog parenting articles
-Shopping for the best enrichment toys
-Support for puppy parents and first time dog parents
-Resources for helping dogs with behaviors
-A place to connect with other dog moms and dads
October's enrichment class is Doggie Fall Festival.
Enroll by Sunday October 4, 2020, and get the mini-class, 5 Confidence Boosting Games to Play With Your Anxious Car Rider, FREE. And, exclusive access to a live (virtual) Halloween Treats class on October 24.