Enrichment Tips For Your Dog During Lockdown

Enrichment and mental stimulation for dog during lockdown

There’s no doubt we can get stuck in a routine when we are in extended lockdown, our dogs are no different. As pet owners, we are tasked with finding fun and enriching activities to help our pets get enough physical and mental stimulation.

 
If we fail to meet these needs, you may experience unwanted behaviour such as barking, anxiety and even chewing on items of importance in the family home.
 

During our extended lockdown we’ve put together a few fun ways that we’ve used to keep Gus entertained.

 

Mental stimulation

Enrichment Puzzles -Puzzles encourage your dog to work through and problem solve in order to obtain the reward (treats). We love watching Gus problem solve and work through the puzzles. Your dog will be rewarded for their efforts when they score a treat or two.

Of course, puzzles should be difficult enough for a challenge but not so hard the dog will become frustrated and gives up. Our absolute favourite brand of dog puzzles are from Nina Ottosson. She has spent the better part of her adult life creating fun, challenging and rewarding puzzles for pups. Gus finds the Dog Treat Maze so much fun and it keeps him entertained for ages.

 Snuffle mats- We love Snuffle Mats so much and so does Gus. Super fun and relatively easy, snuffle mats are made from materials like fleece or felt and secured to a sturdy base with lots of folds. It encourages foraging and finding, which dogs absolutely love!

Does your dog inhale their food? The snuffle mat is a great way to encourage your dog to slow down, as they need to sniff, snuffle and find their way through the folds of the mat, to score all the delicious treats or kibble.  

KONG- What is a KONG toy? It is one of the most widely used enrichment dog toys currently available. Great for all stages of a dog’s life from a puppy through to a senior. Made from durable natural rubber it is specially designed to bounce and known for it’s durability. Non-toxic, non-abrasive and will not become splintered or have sharp edges when chewed. Gus currently has two KONG toys, and they form part of his dinner routine. We stuff the KONG for him and he loves working through the KONG to get his dinner- he’s also stimulated during the process.

KONGs can be used in many different ways and for many different purposes. They can help puppies who are teething, as the Puppy KONG’s rubber is soft and can alleviate mouth pain. or you can use and adult KONG to manage your dog’s weight by encouraging your dog to slow down while also adding mental and physical stimulation.

Physical Stimulation

Walking is a great way to get you and your dog moving. Where and when possible, find new paths and trails to explore, keeping it fresh and exciting for you and your pup.

(if permitted by lockdown restrictions in your LGA)

Slow it down, walks do not need to be a sprint. Allow your dog to sniff and smell their surroundings during walkies. This is the highlight of their day being able to venture outside. We usually take Gus on 3 walks a day and pick a different direction each time. Next time you head outside instead of going the usual way, pick a new direction and watch the joy your dog finds in sniffing all the new scents.  

Game of Tug - A game of tug is both fun for you and your dog. There are so many tug toys available on the market and some even have balls attached so you can also get a game of fetch going as well.

Tug games use quick bursts of energy and can be carried out in the comfort of your home or courtyard.

Learn A New Skill or Trick

A great form of mental stimulation for your dog. It doesn’t matter if you are starting from Sit through to advanced tricks it will be a great bond building exercise for both you and your dog.  

We recently taught Gus how to “Sit Pretty”. This cute sit sees your dog’s front paws lift off the ground while they are sitting on their backside. Gus is food motivated and also very clever. With consistency and patience, he learned this new trick within a few days.

Homemade agility course- There are many ways to create agility obstacles around the house. If you have a kids tunnel they have outgrown this could be a great way to repurpose and have your dog use the tunnel as an obstacle.   A cardboard box also could make a great obstacle by removing the bottom and encouraging your dog to go through it. If you have a spare curtain rod and a laundry basket you’ve just created another obstacle for your dog to jump over.  

Have an old hula hoop or a pool noodle laying around? When you begin training your dog, hold the item to appropriate height and encourage your dog to jump through. Ensure whatever you are using will not injury your pup if they are unable make the jump. Hopefully we have inspired you with a few new ideas to keep your pup entertained during lockdown. We have enjoyed spending time with Gus and implementing the tips we've just shared with you.

 

 

Please ensure the safety of you and your dog if you attempt any activities you have read about in our post