(Hint: It has little to do with “sit, stay or come”.)
In one of my previous blogs, I talked about how getting a dog adopted is only half the battle. Keeping a dog in their home is the other half. And while it is true that most dogs are overwhelmed with the noise and chaos of a kennel facility, they can also be underwhelmed by their new home. Sometimes that new home is just a comfortable quieter more roomy kennel for most of their day.
This can cause some serious issues. The couch may start looking tasty, the cat may start looking like prey, and (heaven forbid) the wind may blow the wrong way and start a barking marathon. And I can promise you that multitudes of dogs have been returned or surrendered for each of those reasons.
How can you avoid Bored Dog Syndrome?
You can always quit your job. Or hire a dog nanny.
Ok, Plan B. CANINE ENRICHMENT!
Step One: Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise.
A couple walks around the block a day is just not enough. Especially if you take the same route every. stinkin. day. Imagine if your whole world was a couple rooms and the same 4 sidewalks. Mix it up! Run with your dog…go to a trail…take a ride in the car…expose your dog to new sights and smells and sounds.
Maybe let them lead the way with their nose a time or two. Turn on your mapping app and compare what you would’ve walked to where they actually wanted to go. Should be eye opening!
Step Two: Make them work for their meals.
Some folks never even feed their dogs out of a bowl. They have to find it, dig for it, sniff it out or chew it off.
2a. Be the dog food Easter bunny and stash their food around the house.
2b. You can hide their food in a small box, put that box in a bigger box, put THAT box in an even bigger box and let them go to town. Better they tear up a box than your mattress. Amirite?
2c. Buy (or make) a snuffle mat and hide the kibble in the mat. GOOGLE THAT.
2d. Ok….bear with me: old butter dish, bone broth, carrots, kibble, animal parts. Freeze ingredients in dish. Put your dog on a non porous surface. Let em go to town on the pupsicle.
Step Three: Teach that old dog new tricks.
Any kind of training is mentally challenging for your dog. An hour of this can tire out certain dogs quicker than an hour’s walk. (Plus you end up with a dog that can do the waltz or dial grandma or bark when your s/o is on the toilet. Fun stuff!)
Step Four:Leave your dog with an almost unsolvable puzzle.
Fill their Kong with kibble top with peanut butter then freeze. Ram some soft treats waaaaay down into that bone. Then put those in an old sock and knot it. Or stop in to your handy dandy local pet store and buy a pre-made puzzle. There’s scads of them.
Canine Enrichment is just that…enriching your dog’s life through mental stimulation. Engaging your dog’s mind is just as important as physical exercise. Sure, dogs are pretty simple beasts. But they need a JOB. If they can’t be out hunting rabbit, sniffing out drugs, pulling a sled or asking if you want fries with that…we need to give them something to do.