Five Easy Enrichment Activities to Help Keep Your Dog Happy

Winter is here with colder, shorter and darker days, which usually means less time outside for you and your dog. When outdoor time becomes limited, we often decrease our dog’s structured exercise, and more importantly, mental stimulation and enrichment, activities. This usually leads to an increase in, what humans refer to as “unwanted behaviors” such as, barking, chewing, digging, jumping, nipping, mounting, and often general anxiety.

Mental stimulation and enrichment don’t need to be complicated though! Check out the following five fun and easy activities to do with your dog to help them with their cabin fever this winter. Have fun!

Please note: these activities should always be supervised, and dogs should never be left alone while enjoying them. 

Push the can/ball

You can use a ball of any kind or a coffee or oat type can. 

-Place the ball/can on the ground.

-Put a small, soft food treat on the ground where the ball/can meet the floor.

-Encourage your dog to get the treat. 

-When the dog takes the treat their nose should gently push the ball/can, causing it to roll. 

-After five successful “pushes” you can start saying “push” when you encourage your dog to take the treat. 

-Over time you will be able to phase out the food treat to get the dog to push and only use the word “push”.  Be sure to give them the treat after they push! 

Save that Amazon box (or two or 10)! 

-Collect an assortment of cardboard boxes and place a high value food item or one of your dog’s favorite toys inside each of the smaller boxes (frozen stuffed kongs, favorite chews, stuffed toys, balls, etc.)

-Close up each small box (just fold it, no tape) and place them inside of the big box. 

-Close up the big box (again, no tape) and then let your dog tear, shred, and open up all of the boxes to get to the hidden treasures! 

Please note: if your dog is eating any cardboard instead of just shredding or tearing it then this is not the game for them. 

Encouraging shredding or tearing in this way will actually reduce your dog’s likelihood of destroying things they shouldn’t because we are giving them a proper outlet for their energy. 

Ping the kibble 

This is a great, fun way to feed your dog their meals! 

-Get your dog’s attention and place one of your dog’s kibbles on the floor.

-Use your finger to flick or “ping” the kibble across the floor for your dog to go get and eat. 

-When your dog looks at you “ping” another kibble in a different direction for them to go after and eat. 

-Repeat until you run out of kibble! 

Save that Amazon box! (part two!)

-Leave the packaging paper that came with your shipment in the box after you have unpacked it, and/or add some crumpled newspaper, and toss a handful of kibble in the box for your dog to snuffle for.

-Another option is to buy a package of “ball pit” balls or just fill the empty box with your dog’s favorite toys and then toss a handful of kibble in for your dog to sniff out. 

Scatter feeding

-Take a handful of your dog’s food and toss it in the grass, snow, or leaves (depending on the time of year) and let your dog use their nose to search for the food.

-This is a great way to feed meals and can be used as a way to help dogs who get overstimulated easily on walks, by directing them to take a sniff break and search for food before they become overstimulated. 

If you are looking for even more fun activities to do with your dogs to help keep their brains and bodies happy and healthy you can check out my Boredom Busters video available for purchase HERE.

2 responses to “Five Easy Enrichment Activities to Help Keep Your Dog Happy”

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