We humans lead such busy lives that we sometimes forget that our dogs may be bored just watching us run around all the time. Like us they need mental stimulation as well as exercise and lots of love to keep them happy. Dogs who are not given enough exercise and offered interesting things to do, can become creative in the garden, decide to remodel furniture, or find that barking gives them an outlet for their pent up frustrations. So to avoid these destructive and problematic behaviours becoming an issue you need to give them adequate exercise and provide them with a variety of things to do throughout the day. It is easy and doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive.
Get your dog to help you with the recycling. You can give them cardboard rolls to chew on and boxes with all the staples and tape removed. They can rip them up for you to put in the recycle bin!
If you see your dog EATING the cardboard then this activity is NOT suitable for them.
Always test out new toys when you first introduce them. Make sure you are around to supervise and see if they are suitable for your dog or not? If your puppy tears out the stuffing and music boxes from soft toys then they are not suitable to give as play things when you are not around to supervise. If you pup is gentle with their teddies and stuffed toys then they are suitable.
Try feeding your dog in a slow release food dispenser instead of in a bowl all the time. This works particularly well for food orientated individuals. Ask your dog to sit and present them with their breakfast in any of these dispensers. This way you will stimulate their mind and leave them with a job to do as you walk out the door.
Different enrichment items
Attempt to provide your dog with a minimum of four or five different enrichment items per day. Be sure to rotate, so they don’t get bored with them. If they have a real favourite leave that one with them on a regular basis. When you get home pick up any empty slow release food dispensers and pop them away. You don’t want to leave these lying around all the time as they might lose interest in them.
Creating a treasure hunt is another good idea for the food orientated dog. Scatter or hide their dry food in the garden, rather than just putting it in their food bowl, so they are busy searching for it when you leave for work. Most dogs will do several laps of the back yard making sure they have not missed a bit! If you have children get them involved in setting up the treasure hunt. Dry sunny days are ideal for this idea.
Ears and snouts
Lambs ears, pigs ears and snouts are great for self settling and chewing. The lambs ear can be squeezed into the Holee Roller to make it even more of a challenge. If your dog is not interested in food buy a Holee Roller with a ball inside it instead to keep them busy.
Please note when you are not at home to supervise - These food orientated ideas are NOT suitable if you have more than one dog, as they may resource guard and end up fighting over them.
Interactive tug toys and rope toys are great for two dogs to play with together. The beauty of having two dogs is that they can entertain each other!
In the summer time you can make doggy iceblocks which will help keep them cool on hot days. These can be made from tinned tuna or meat stock, and frozen in ice cream containers. They are a great way to keep your pet entertained on hot days.
Children's plastic paddling pools are another good idea, particularly for dogs who love the water.