Social Pet offers a unique enrichment experience for your dog, but what exactly does that mean? Well, let’s look at the word itself first. Enrichment is defined as "the action of improving or enhancing the quality or value of something." More specifically for dogs, enrichment is the process of allowing a dog to engage in their innate behaviors – "playing, chasing, smelling, chewing, and scavenging." Further, enrichment can be broken into 6 specific types:
· Physical or Environmental
Social Enrichment provides the opportunity for your dog to spend time with other dogs, new and familiar people, often in different and engaging environments. Off-leash play that you'll see at most every daycare facility improves dogs' ability to interact with others, and "reduces chances of developing reactivity and fear-based communication issues." In other words, your dog builds confidence, and social skills!
Cognitive Enrichment takes the next step and involves the dog’s brain in problem-solving activities. This can be achieved using puzzles, nose work snuffle mats, hide and seek with treats, and all manner of other activities! Training also falls under Cognitive Enrichment. Often, dogs will be more tired after a day of training than from a day of social interaction with other dogs. This is because they’re working their brain so hard! Imagine a productive and busy day at your job - constantly changing tasks, meeting new coworkers, responding to those emails every hour, etc. Now imagine how tired you are when you walk in the door at the end of that day - big breath of fresh air right? And you're exhausted! That’s how your dog feels!
Physical or Environmental Enrichment involves making any changes in your dog's environment to make it more challenging or interesting. Suggestions include:
· Digging Pit - a small patch of dirt in your yard that allows the dog to dig for toys or treats and engage their senses
· Tunnels / Play Equipment
Feeding Enrichment is just how it sounds. By engaging your dog's five senses, you're able to "encourage them to use their natural hunting and foraging skills at mealtime." Achieve this by using a slow feeder, food or treat puzzle, snuffle blanket, or simply hide small portions of your dog's meal throughout the house in different places each time!
Toy Enrichment can be combined with Feeding Enrichment for a full experience. Provide toys that can be manipulated to get a reward. For example, "put their toy in a closed cardboard box” and let the dog attempt to free it. Other suggestions include:
· Remote / Wind Up Toys - electronic toys are all over! Engage your dog's chasing skills by sending a fun toy zooming about the house. Be careful to clear any dangerous obstructions before play.
· Flirt Poles - These unique toys have a pole and string attached to the end. Simply "fish" for your dog and move the toy to mimic prey movements. Dogs at Social Pet LOVE to chase the flirt poles with our Enrichment Specialists.
· Chew Toys / Bones - Available in all sizes and materials! Be sure to consult a medical professional or accurate source before providing your dog a new toy and supervise chew time to reduce any chance of choking hazards.
Sensory Enrichment is your catch-all experience for dogs. This is anything that involves ANY of the five senses: nose work, new tastes, chewing, chasing, smelling and playing with others can all be included in this category. A combination approach often works best for many dogs.
Social Pet offers a variety of all these types of Enrichment - puzzles, agility and obstacle courses, obedience training and much more! A cognitively frustrated or over-energized dog is more prone to discouraged behaviors like destroying household projects or provoking negative behaviors in other dogs. That’s why at Social Pet, our Enrichment Specialists cater daycare to each individual dog to provide the most personal experience that we can and to ensure that the dog gets the MOST out of being with us.
If you'd like to add a little more enrichment into YOUR pup's life, make sure to check out our monthly daycare parties where pups engage in new and exciting activities, balance that with valuable rest periods, and get special goodies to take home!
Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next time!