The kennel environment is quite stressful for any dog. It tends to be loud, busy and is not ideal for anyone. Although we do everything we can to make the dogs time here as easy for them as possible, any dog would rather be in a comfy home with a family of their own to love. We always need to find new and inventive ways to reduce stress for the dogs in the kennel. One major way we do this is with enrichment.
Enrichment is a beneficial tool we use daily to keep the dogs physically and mentally stimulated in the shelter, but could also benefit your dogs at home. It helps them physically by keeping them active and moving throughout the day and mentally by learning problem solving skills with each new toy or puzzle they are given. Our goal is to get the dog’s mind off of the fact that they are in a kennel environment or home alone, even if it is for just a few minutes at a time.
We have a long list of toys and puzzles we use for enrichment. Some of them are store bought or donated like Kongs, plastic puzzles, and rubber treat dispensing toys. Some of them are homemade out of recycled materials like PVC pipes, plastic water bottles, and paper bags. All of which are filled with treats of different varieties for the dog to try to get out and munch on. A lot of the toys made out of recycled materials are designed to be torn up by the pups. Since its recycled material, your wallet won’t notice and the dogs will have a blast!
Pairing the correct toy to the correct dog is very important as well. If you know your dog has a history of eating and swallowing things they shouldn’t, we suggest you stay away from things like bottles and bags. The Kong toys are wonderful for super chewer dogs, especially if you fill them with treats mixed with wet food or peanut butter and put them in the freezer overnight. If your pup doesn’t normally swallow anything they shouldn’t, any of these options would be great for them! It’s always a great idea to start off by giving them a toy that’s on the easier side and then working up to the more difficult puzzles. With doing that, your dog will not get frustrated with the toy and give up on it. Remember, the goal is to keep their brains and bodies occupied while we aren’t around to entertain them.
Here are a couple websites to visit that include recipes for the Kongs and how to DIY different dog toys and enrichment ideas!
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