We’ve all heard about the im-paw-tance of ‘enrichment’ for our dogs, but what actually is it? And why is it so important?
“Enrichment is learning what our dogs’ needs are and then structuring an environment for them that allows them, as much as is feasible, to meet those needs.”
– Allie Bender & Emily Strong (2019, in ‘Canine Enrichment for the Real World’)
Enrichment can be described as anything that provides an outlet for the expression of natural and instinctive canine behaviours, such as foraging, sniffing, tracking, chewing, shredding, chasing, digging, herding and retrieving.
These behaviours are often seen in the wrong context and therefore discouraged or punished as ‘problem behaviour’ (e.g. your dog chewing off your table leg or digging up your garden). But the expression of these behaviours is vital for your dog’s mental health and wellbeing, which makes finding a healthy and desirable outlet essential.
What’s more, the healthy expression of these behaviours helps to reduce stress and improve confidence, self-regulation, problem-solving and concentration skills.
Encourage your dog to sniff by scatter feeding
Encourage your dog to chase by snaking a tug toy around the floor
Encourage your dog to track with their nose by laying a treat trail
Encourage your dog to chew by letting them shred an empty milk carton
Encourage your dog to dig by building their very own sand-dig-pit or dig-box
6 Ways to Enrich Your Dog’s Life with Loo Roll
Enrichment* is only rewarding for your dog if it’s at their level of ability. It’s a good idea to start easy and gradually increase the difficulty at your dog’s pace.
(*Always supervise your dog during enrichment)
You will need:
Loo roll or paper towel cardboard tubes
Level 1: Cardboard tube folded at one end
Place a few treats inside, flatten tube and fold over one end to secure
Level 2: Cardboard tube folded at both ends
Place a few treats inside and fold over both ends to secure
Level 3: Cardboard tube stuffed and folded
Place a few treats inside a scrunched up bit of paper inside the tube and fold both ends over
Level 4: Cardboard tube stuffed and doubled up
Same as above but put tube inside another tube
Level 5: Cardboard Tube Towel
Place a few treats inside a tea towel, roll it up and twist it. Then thread through cardboard tubes
Level 6: Shoe Box of Tubes
Place several tubes in a shoe box or similar. Pop a treat in each one, can cover with some scrunched up paper or toys to make it more difficult