It’s that time of year when the days are short, dark, and chilly! It can be difficult to keep pups active and healthy during the winter months, and enrichment is a great way to engage their brains, wear them out, and challenge their senses.
What is enrichment? Enrichment allows animals to express natural behavior in a safe, healthy, and positive way. When you provide dogs the opportunity to use their senses to investigate, explore, and experience different smells, textures, sounds, tastes, and sights, it can improve their quality of life, engage them mentally, and support their ability to adapt, cope, recover, and thrive.
During winter months, there are great enrichment activities you can provide to your dog indoors to keep them healthy and happy, even if outdoor exercise isn’t as frequent.
- If you currently offer your pup puzzles, invest in a new option or make your own at home using toilet paper or paper towel rolls stuffed with a few treats or toys (make sure your pup doesn’t ingest the whole cardboard tube!)
- Instead of feeding your dog from a bowl, use a Kong wobbler, slow feeder, snuffle mat, or other interactive toy so they can problem-solve to get their food.
- You can even spread out mealtime throughout the day instead of all at once. This can also help minimize the number of treats or extra goodies you might use in puzzles.
- Play the foraging game inside by tossing a handful of small, smelly treats in one room of the house and letting your dog sniff around to find them.
- Try a scavenger hunt inside! Start small by hiding treats in plain sight in one room, and then increase the challenge by hiding treats at different levels, under toys, blankets, or pillows, or spreading out the hiding locations.
- Check out additional tips and tricks here.
- If you need to help them start looking, you can point to the treats, let them see where you hid one, and use verbal encouragement to urge them along and praise them when they find the treat.
- Want to try something more active inside? Create your own home obstacle course using plain old cardboard boxes. It’s a great way to reuse boxes and challenge your pup indoors. Try creating a tunnel, a jump, a balance beam, and more!
- You can find additional details here.