What do you need exactly to raise a dog the way it needs to be raised? The best food, love, cuddles, and some regular walks? It may sound ideal but dogs are more than that.
Why? According to many animal welfare associations, most of the dogs that end up in shelters are those that were not trained and socialized properly and their owners had no choice but to give them up.
Dogs come with a lot of responsibilities and they need training, exercise, and mental stimulation activities or you may end up having an unmannered dog.
The Dogs Journal Website recommends you should raise your puppy with love and dedication just like your human baby. So, the question is; what else does your dog need? And the shortest answer is enrichment activities.
Enrichment is essential for every dog whether it's social, nutritional, occupational, sensory, or physical enrichment. It reduces the stress levels in your dogs and improves their overall physical and mental health. All types of enrichment are important however, this article covers those which can be done indoors.
Why indoors? As you know sometimes it is difficult to take your dog out due to extreme weather, or any other reason. So, it is important to fulfill your dog's exercise and mental stimulation needs. If you are wondering how to do that, keep reading below.
5 Best Indoor Enrichment Activities For Dogs
The Meal Deal:
How do you feed your dog? Some regular dog food and/or raw food in a dog bowl? Well, you can easily transform a regular boring meal into something thrilling for your fur baby.
So, what's the deal? Hide your dog's toys or belongings at different places indoors and ask your dog to find them. Every time it finds out and brings a toy, feed your dog with a small portion of its food. For example, if your dog's daily diet is 2 cups of food, divide it into 5-6 portions and feed every portion after it finds a toy or belonging. You can add more joy to your dog in this activity by hiding a treat with every toy.
This is among the most favorite activities for dogs and the dog parents similarly enjoy it. You've already seen your dogs sniffing everything, right? They really love sniffing because it gives them calming effect and reduces their stress level. So, you can design different sniffing activities for your pooch. For instance, you can start with the below one.
Following is the step-by-step guide to this indoor enrichment activity.
1 - Take your dog's favorite ball or a toy and put 3-4 drops of essential oil onto it. Dogs love different fragrances such as Lavender, Peppermint, Ginger, Lemongrass the most but you can try anyone.
2 - Now, play a fetch game with your dog indoors and reward it with a treat every time it fetches the ball. Repeat this 5 to 6 times a day so your dog gets familiar with this scent.
3 - The next day, in absence of your dog, hide the same toy/ball in another room and place tiny pieces of paper scented with the same oil onto the floor. You can make this trail of papers as long as you have space indoors but this trail should be ended 6-7 meters away from the actual hiding place.
4 - In the last step, let the dog at the start of the trail near the first scented paper and ask him to find the ball/toy (whatever command you have taught him). Follow your dog over the trail and encourage him to find the ball. And when he finds the ball, reward him with the treat. Repeat this game and change the hiding place of the ball every time. Eventually, your dog will be able to find the ball even if there is no scented trail at all.
Hide & Seek:
It is one of the easiest indoor activities that can be conducted without the need for anything. And, it is the best game that helps in your dog's cognitive enrichment.
How to play it? You'd have already taught your dog the "stay" command, right? Simply, ask your dog to stay where it is already standing/sitting. Now, run and hide from your dog and call him. When your dog finds you, give him a treat as a reward.
Tip: Initially, hide in the easier places so your dog gets familiar with this activity. Gradually, change the hiding places and start making it a bit difficult for your dog with time.
Train your Dog to Reorganize its Toys:
We, humans, are so organized but how about having a dog that is as organized as you. Luckily, with this activity, you not only teach your dog to organize its belongings but also increase your dog's confidence and prove your dominance as a real dog parent.
How to start with it? Your dog would already know where all of his belongings such as toys, food bowls, balls, etc. are placed. So, when it's mealtime, you can ask your dog to bring its food bowl and when he's done, ask him to put it back in its place. Similarly, start asking your dog to bring its toys or belongings and then put them back when he's done with them. Every time they do it, reward them with a treat.
Freeze the Meals:
It is yet another food enrichment activity for your pup that can make meals more fun and less boring. The best part of this activity is that it is no rocket science and you literally have dozens of different recipes to try.
For example, you can mix boiled chicken, peanut butter, kibbles, fruits, and some herbs. Stuff this mixture in a Kong and freeze it overnight and you are done. It will not only keep your dogs occupied for a long time but also stimulate them mentally.
You can also add plain yogurt, crushed blueberries, banana, and biscuits to this mixture.
Enrichment activities are necessary for your dog's mental health. It also improves your dog's ability to think and keep them from boredom and stress.
Moreover, all types of enrichment activities are beneficial and improve the dog's overall behavior. When raising a dog, you have to focus on both physical, as well as, mental activities because it's not just about the body but, about the mind too.
Sahir Farid - Chief Editor | The Dogs Journal
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