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The 2 E's for Dogs

Every dog needs each of these things every single day. The first being, enrichment and the second is exercise. Both are extremely important to your dogs physical and mental health.

Enrichment - SUPER important for you dogs brain. It gives their brain exercise, reduces stress, and encourages natural behaviors in a productive way.

I personally have found that giving my pup enrichment every day was super helpful to get his energy out as well!

When you are first introducing the enrichment toy, use small treats or make it as easy as possible for your pup to figure the toy out so they do not get frustrated. When your pup hits the "pro" level, then you can introduce other dog safe foods. Make sure you keep it at 10% or below their food intake level for the day. Also, make sure to introduce new foods slowly.

Here are my favorite enrichment toys and DIY projects!:

  • Kong - Possibly one of the most common and simple enrichment toys out there. I am sure you have seen them in just about any pet store. They are super simple to use, all you do is fill treats/goodies in the bottom (large) hole. Here are a few of my favorite simple recipes to fill the Kong. Keep in mind, to start slow with your pup, especially if they are not usually treat motivated. Then you can work your way up, stuff it with more items and also freeze the items to make it harder to get out. Here is a quick and simple recipe for your Kong.

  • Nina Ottosson Outward Hound Puzzles - These ones are some of my favorite sets and are super simple to use. I love how they have levels to make it easier for you to choose what puzzle is best for your pup. I recommend starting at the level 1, and then work your way up to higher levels. I typically fill mine with hard treats like training treats and carrots or apples depending on what I have on hand.

  • Find the Treat - This is a very simple game, and all you need is 3 cups, and a treat. First, place the cups upside down on the ground in a line. Then put 1 treat under 1 cup, mix the cups around. Then let your pup sniff the treat out. I typically let my pup pick the cup first and then help him lift it up so the cup does not get destroyed.

You can also play a similar game with boxes, this time using taller boxes and letting your pup find the treat in each box. There is also a simple craft called a 'sniffle mat' that you can either make or buy for your dog. All of these games encourage them to use their nose to find treats, and work their brain at the same time. Here is the Pup Cup version of this game, linked in my YouTube channel.

  • Towel Burrito - For this game, all you need is a towel and some treats. Simply roll up a towel, and as you are rolling it place a few treats, in the towel. Let your dog unroll the treats, or shake them out. Whichever way your pup gets the treats out, it will still be enrichment for them.

  • Egg Carton - For this game, all you need is an egg carton. This is a super super simple DIY dog enrichment toy. Simply just take an empty egg carton, and put a few treats where the eggs would be. Let your dog figure out how to open it, or tear it open. Make sure that your dog does not eat the egg carton if they tear it apart!

Exercise - Everyone seems to already know about this one, and it is very straightforward. Your pup needs exercise to maintain weight, and keep all the wiggles away.

  • Fetch - One of the easiest ones to do, all you need is a ball, and a chuck-it. A chuck-it will seriously save your arm, and the rubber balls they make are some of the toughest I have found so far, and are worth the money!

To teach your pup to play fetch, make sure to make it a fun game. First, throw the ball, and if they go after it then reward them with treats and or praise. Always make it a fun game, and each time they work their way up to playing an 'actual game' of fetch, then reward them! If your dog is dog friendly, then have them play fetch with another dog, and once they see how much fun the game is then they will for sure want to play!

  • Stick - This is a game that me and my pup personally play, and we only need a stick! He loves to play the game 'keep away', so when he wants to play that game we grab a stick, and then run around 'trying to grab' the stick while he runs around in front of us thinking he is being super tricky. Keep in mind, this game may not be for every dog!! It is good exercise for both the dog and the human too!

If your dog becomes aggressive towards you grabbing the stick then it is probably not a game you should play. Sometimes your dog could also make growling noise, but it could be in a 'playing' way. Be sure to watch their body language extra close to find clues of how they are reacting / feeling. Typically if their tail is wiggling, their ears are perked up, they give you a short growl, then it means they are playing.

  • Hide and Go Seek - My pup loves this game, plus it helps to work on recall, and waiting too! I grab a bag of treats, tell my pup to wait, and then hide behind a tree. Then I tell him his release word (ours is 'break'), and he comes to find me. Once he finds me then he gets a treat. You can increase this in difficulty by going further away, or hiding in harder to find areas. Keep it simple and quick at first, and very slowly increase in difficulty.

Before you play this game your dog will need to know how to wait. Always practice small increases in time, and ALWAYS use positive reinforcement.

  • Sniff Walks - This one is a combination of both exercise and enrichment. Simply put, you just take your dog for a walk in a new area, or somewhere they have not been in a long time and just let them sniff everything or anything they want!

* Always remember to increase in difficulty SLOWLY + use dog safe treats and toys

** I am not affiliated with any of the brands mentioned above, I just truly love each one of the products I recommended!

Always have

Grit. Grace. Gratitude.

- Shyann

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