Keeping your pet entertained with enrichment is a great way to keep their mind working and burn some energy. It’s also great for when they are left along for extended periods of time. Check out our handy tips for enrichment ideas.
Enrichment for dogs
- Kongs are a great form of enrichment. They’re easy to use, durable and you can put almost anything in them e.g dry food and peanut butter. We sell a few versions of these and can order them in if you have a specific style in mind.
- Puzzle feeders are stimulating for the mind and can help slow down fast eaters.
- DIY version #1: place some dry food in a plastic soda bottle, keep the lid off and let your dog try get the food out. Please ensure they are supervised.
- DIY version #2: Use a cupcake pan and place treats in them. Cover with tennis balls and let the dog lift each ball to get to the treat.
- DIY version #3 Use a rolled up towel to hide treats.
- DIY version #4 Upturn a laundry basket and place a towel with some treats hidden in there.
- Go for a walk- it’s free, your dog will love it and it’s good for you too!
- Frozen treats are cheap and easy to make. We use them in our boarding facility during the hotter months. You can make a variety of flavours so they can be tailored to your dog’s liking. An easy option is placing some shredded chicken in a container and filling it up with water. Place in the freezer until frozen and then just remove from the container and watch your dog enjoy their treat.
- Scatter treats or a meal around the house or backyard and let your dog sniff their way to search it out.
- Teach your dog new tricks! Even older dogs are able to learn new skills so this is a great way to enrich their mind and spend time with them.
- Play hide and seek! Tell your pet to sit and stay. If they are good at staying, leave them there whilst you find somewhere to hide and then yell out their name. See if they can find you!
- If you have an old clam shell or large container fill it with plastic balls or turn it into a digging pit with sand or dirt. Hide toys or treats in the sand for them to find.
- Play the 3-cup game. Line up three plastic cups and start by putting a treat under one of the cups while your dog watches. Give them the ok to show you which one is the right cup and let them have the treat when they choose correctly. Once they get the hang of it, you can make it more challenging by mixing up the cups after you place the treat.
Enrichment for cats
- Lasers are entertaining for both the cat and their human. They’re cheap and provide hours of fun. You can even buy automatic lasers so your cat can play by itself.
- Scratching posts are enjoyable and allows them to exhibit natural behaviour. It is also good for claw health and can prevent them from scratching other objects in the house, particularly if Feliway Scratch is used.
- Cardboard boxes are simple, cheap and cats love them! Just place the box on the ground with one side open and let your cat explore and sit in it. You can even cut holes in it for added fun.
- Cat grass is good for those that live in apartments. You can grow it yourself or buy it. It’s nice to place it on a windowsill or somewhere that your cat can look outside.
- Frozen treats are cheap and easy to make. We use them in our boarding facility during the hotter months. You can make a variety of flavours so they can be tailored to your cats liking. An easy option is placing some tuna in a container and filling it up with water. Place in the freezer for a few hours until frozen and then just remove from the container and watch your cat enjoy their treat.
- Wand toys provide hours of fun. You can buy them or make them yourself. You can also hang them up somewhere safe and let your cat play with it.
- Balls such as ping pong balls or balls that jingle are fun as your cat can bat them around for as long as they want. DIY version: give them an empty toilet roll or some scrunched up paper to bat around. Please ensure they are supervised.
- Take them for a walk! Many cats tolerate a harness well and enjoy a wander on a lead. Be sure not to force them if they are unsure and let them take the lead.
- Cat exercise wheels are now available in some pet shops and some cats love to run on them!
- Have a fish tank! Cats love to watch the fish move around, just be sure it has a lid so there are no accidents!
- Place a bird bath outside a window so that your indoor cat can watch the birds come and go. Obviously do not do this if the cat has access to the area.
- For indoor only cats, create an enclosed outside area they can explore. Companies such as Catmax install these or you can D.I.Y.
- Teach your cat a trick! Many cats that are food driven can be taught to sit or even High-Five!
For any enrichment activity that requires food, please adjust the volume of their meals so they are not being overfed.
Make sure they are not left unsupervised with items they could inadvertently ingest e.g. plastic.
Providing enrichment for your animal is an important part of their growth and development and should be incorporated into their everyday lives. There is a variety of options and many can be made from everyday objects. Alternating toys and enrichment activities will continuously provide your animal with endless opportunities for physical and mental stimulation.
By Tania Samia