Enrichment. Everyone has heard that word in some way or another. It's become quite the buzz word in the media lately! When someone says "enrichment for your dog" what do you think of?
A lot of people, myself included, think of fun puzzle toys, Snuffle Mats or Licki Mats, however, enrichment can be as simple as letting your dog indulge in "bad" behaviors.
"But Haylie," you say in your head, "you're a dog trainer, shouldn't you be advocating against bad behaviors?!" Well, yes and no.
See, dogs don't see any behavior as innately "good" or "bad", they just know that this thing that they want or, in certain cases, are bred to do, gets them reprimanded. A lot of the time trainers see dogs come in through programs with complaints of nuisance behaviors like barking or digging, when in reality, the dog is just doing what it was bred to do.
Most of these bad behaviors can be helped by letting your dog let loose a bit! If you have a heavy chewer like a Lab or Bully mix, give them designated chew toys under supervision, this will help curtail their want to chew on your things. In addition, make sure your things that you don't want chewed are put away. If you have a dog like a Terrier or Dachshund that likes to dig, you can set up a kiddie pool with sand in it and let them go to town! To make it even more fun, you can bury treats or toys in their little sand box for more reinforcement.
The more you do to set your dog up for success, the better your life and your relationship with your dog will be!
If you are a fan of the puzzles, toys and enrichment games, there is a whole world out there to explore! Some easy enrichment activities can even be as simple as rolling your dogs food up in a towel and letting them sniff around it to find the kibble pieces! I know my dogs love when I give them their kibble in an interactive way!
Enrichment doesn't have to be expensive, it just takes some creativity and a little bit of understanding what your dog needs.
Keep checking back for some quick, easy, fun and cost effective enrichment activities