Enrichment - What Should It Look Like?

When we think about enrichment, it's important to focus on what the point of it is - to enrich.

The goal of it is to provide more mental and potentially physical stimulation than a dog would normally get by themselves. It's providing an outlet for behaviours that might manifest as 'problems' if that need isn't met.

It doesn't need to be exceptionally creative or flashy. It needs to be functional and enjoyable.

But sometimes we link enrichment with 'challenging'. We think our dogs need to be challenged, and as such we put together exceedingly complex enrichment toys for them to work with.

To say some dogs don't enjoy this would be wrong. I know loads of dogs who like the challenge and who have the temperament that they will keep working until they get the job done.

And yet I also know lots of dogs that, when presented with a challenge such as this, lose confidence and blow it off. Their needs haven't been met.

We treat enrichment as something we just put down for the dog to get on with. But like children playing with their toys, we need to teach them how to interact with these enrichment items. We need to build it up step by step.

In our Forty Days of Freework Challenge on our Facebook Group and Instagram page, we present an easy, medium and hard option. We always recommend you go for the easiest option first. Build those skills in as we would with normal training.

Enrichment is meant to be fun. Let's keep it that way.

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