We all love our dogs to the end of the earth. Dogs fill our lives with so much joy and laughter, and you just can’t beat that feeling of unconditional and endless love that you receive from a dog. Dog owners are more than happy to spoil their dogs with treats, but have you created an enriching environment for your pooch?
While the best form of enrichment is your company, busy schedules mean we don’t spend as much time playing with our dogs as we should or would like. That’s why setting up the right environment is so important, and here’s how you can do it.
Fill Your House With Toys!
No matter how old your dog, it will love some toys to play with. Here are the categories of toys to focus on:
- Chew Toys: Chewing is a pleasurable activity for dogs. Young dogs especially need something to chew. You should make sure the toys you provide are no harder than raw bone. Also, avoid plastic and wood as these abrasive materials will affect your dog’s dental health. If raw bones are given, just make sure they are big enough so that they can’t be swallowed whole.
- Food: Yes, dogs are allowed to play with their food. Instead of just leaving food out for your dog, turn it into a fun challenge. You could hide food around the house and garden for them to find, or even buy a treat ball that turns dinner time into a puzzle!
- Interactive Toys: If you have a young puppy, or a very energetic dog, interactive toys are the best way to stave off boredom. There’s plenty of toys out there that encourage self-play and give you the peace of mind that your furry friend has something to engage with while you’re not home.
- Home Made Toys: You don’t have to head to the pet shop to keep your pooch entertained. You can make homemade interactive and fun toys. Braiding ropes or old t shirts together to make a throwable tug toy. Or, put a hole in the bottom of a milk bottle and fill it with treats that are small enough to fall out – hang it from a tree, and you have a piñata for your dog!
The Great Outdoors
It’s important your dog has access to an outdoor space during the day. Even the most ‘inside’ dogs will love some time out in the fresh air, so invest in a doggy door leading out into a well-secured space.
If your home doesn’t allow for an outdoor space, make sure that your dog has a window from which to look. You can even attract wildlife to the window by leaving some food out. Your puppy will love watching all the comings and goings of birds, bugs and other members of the animal kingdom.
Somewhere To Dig
Some breeds of dogs are born to dig. Indulge this habit by creating a little sandpit in your backyard, or some other area of soft, diggable soil. When you come home, all you have to do is fill in the hole, and your pup can go about their business again the next day. Trust us, they never get sick of it.
Somewhere To Cool Off
Your pets feel the heat as much as you do. A wading pool or toddler pool is the perfect way to provide your pooch with a method of cooling off in the summer. Make sure you put it in a nice shady spot and you’ll have turned a corner of your backyard into a summer paradise for your best mate.
Local Dog Walkers
The rise of the ‘gig’ economy means finding a dog walker is easy. You can use websites such as Airtasker to find trusted people in your area that can come around and give your dog a bit of exercise while you’re at work.
Get Them a Friend
Dogs are very social creatures, and most dogs will love having a buddy with which to play. If you have the room and can fit another loveable rogue into your life, why not get another pooch! It’s probably the best form of environmental enrichment you can engage in.
By filling your dog’s environment with lots of fun and challenges you give them something to do when you’re away. It’s hard to comprehend how attached your dog is to you, so you need to make those times that your dog is on its own as tolerable as possible.
It’s also a good idea to rotate these ideas, so that your pup has something different to look forward to each day.
Also, make sure you give your pooch plenty of love and attention when you get home. Time with you is precious for your dog, so fit it in wherever and however you can.
Need help for your feline friend? Read our guide on Environmental Enrichments for Cats.