Enrichment Games for Dogs
Our Explorer Evie from @gundog_squad has pulled together some of her favourite enrichment games both store bought and homemade
Our furry pals get excited and happy over just about everything, seeing you when you’ve only stepped outside for five minutes, their food, your food and the squirrel at the park to name but a few. They’re filled with happiness and play a big part of keeping us healthy. In return for that, we need to make sure that they are healthy, both physically and mentally!
Why Enrichment Games?
Just like us humans, dogs need exercise and enrichment to stay healthy both mentally and physically. They need enrichment to prevent boredom, build a closer bond between you and stimulate the senses. A good way to ensure your dog’s mental health is good is enrichment games for your dogs! Enrichment games come in all shapes and sizes and can range from very cheap to make to more expensive.
Here I will go through several different enrichment options for your pooches, things that we have ourselves tried and tested!
Four Homemade Enrichment Games
A simple enrichment game which can be done at home with toys or treats -with no cost involved!
Hide and Treat
Use three bowls, ( I usually use the dog’s food and water bowls) and place a toy or treat underneath a bowl, and move them around. Once satisfied allow the dog to find the toy or treat. Hiding it from them means that it is more of a challenge for them, and they have to use their brain and nose to find it. This game really helps to focus the dog and provides a lot of enrichment!
If you’re feeling ambitious, keep the dog in a different room when hiding the item and then let them in to find it. This is pretty hard for the dog, but it provides a huge amount of enrichment, and they feel a great amount of satisfaction for you and your dog.
Spin the Bottle
Another great game is a bottle enrichment game. This can be homemade and made with very little cost. All you need is three or more plastic bottles, take the tops off and pop a few treats in each. Cut two holes in the bottle, opposite each other and about two thirds up. Attach the bottles to a wooden frame or thread through some string. If using string, tie each side to something secure e.g. a draw, radiator. Sometimes dogs can need a bit of encouragement but eventually, they will see that they have to spin the bottles to get the treats out. This is an excellent enrichment game and can provide hours of fun!
Dogs can have plenty of fun with socks. One of the things we love doing is hiding one of your dogs favourite toys inside an old sock along with some treats. They’ll spend ages trying to pull it out proving easy entertainment.
Cardboard Box Game
For a very simple enrichment game you can place a toy or treat into a cardboard box. Close the box up, then place the box on the floor for your dog to play with. They will quickly work out that the thing they really want is inside the box! They will have to use their brain to work this out. It really helps to get them focussed. Although it may create a whole load of shredded cardboard, it is super fun for your pooch and they will have hours of fun!
We’ve popped 5 of our favourite DIY games together in this printable, including two bonus games not featured in this blog. This is pawfect printable for you to pop on your fridge as you start to pull the games together. These games can be created with things you can find around the house.
Agility can also help with enrichment, keeping your dogs mind healthy and active, read Gudog’s guide to agility here.
Although we are not trained professionals, we have got plenty of experience and all of these enrichment games work wonders for dogs and helps to stop boredom and keeps their brain healthy! Without stimulation, dogs can become bored, anxious and distressed! By just giving your dog one or two of these enrichment games you can help to promote their mental health!
Please ensure that your dogs are supervised when using any of the above enrichment games!
Has your dog played any of these brain and enrichment games? Do you have any new games to share? Let us know in the comments below!