October seems to be a big month of change for me. Yesterday I talked about the #GoodbyeSugar30 Challenge that I’m embarking on and I’m actually taking on another challenge, but this one isn’t just for me. Next week, I’m joining in the #PAW5ENRICHEDLIFECHALLENGEand if you’re a fellow dog lover like me, you should too!
This challenge is SO near and dear to my heart. We treat Sookie like family, not just a pet, so enriching her life is a big deal. And with Lily here now… I feel like I’ve lost a bit of focus on how much she deserves. But now that we’re at least kinda sorta used to this whole parenting thing (as in we know that life is unpredictable and sleep is precious) – this is the perfect time to get back to it! Especially before the snow covers the ground.
The #PAW5ENRICHEDLIFECHALLENGEis next week (October 17 – October 21) and its essentially a five simple, awesome things you can do to enrich your dog’s life every day. All of the info you need to participate is below!
Why This is Important
When you decide to adopt a dog, it’s typically understood you are signing yourself up for training, exercise, and time spent dedicated to that new pup in your life. What many dog owners (especially new ones) may not realize is that it doesn’t stop there; simply walking your dog a few times a week and basic training won’t lead to fulfilling lives for them. There’s much more to it – they need enrichment, and you can provide that for them in a multitude of ways.
What exactly is enrichment?
Enrichment is a way to provide mental and physical stimulation for your dog by way of puzzles, training, games, and socialization – all built to tap into natural canine instincts and behaviors. There are six defined categories pet parents can choose from with the goal of finding the ones that best suit their individual pup:
Sensory – This includes anything and everything that stimulates your dog’s senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. This is where playing in the grass, rolling in the dirt and splashing in water come in. You can also support this through TV programming, music and scent work.
Feeding – This is how you can make feeding time challenging, engaging and fun. It’s about putting hunting and foraging skills to use, employing the power of their nose and their brains to get to the good stuff!
Toys+Puzzles – These products encourage your dog to engage and manipulate them to get a desired results…normally treats. But it also includes plush, rubber, rope and fetch toys, and the regular rotation of these so that your pup continues to engage with them.
Environmental – Adding something new to your dog’s environment can peak curiosity and sometimes increase physical activity. Build a ramp in the backyard, place a mirror in the living room, go play on a playground, go for a hike in the woods.
Social – Interaction with other people and other dogs builds trust and self confidence. Whether you are going to the dog park, to the pet store, in car or to a friend’s house, engagement with new environments, new people and new dogs will help keep your pup well socialized.
Training – Training is an incredible time to bond with your dog, building trust, rapport and some much needed listening skills. Whether you are training the basics or have moved on to trick training, the time spent doing this has great benefits for your dog and your relationship.
Get Ready for This Five Day Challenge
Now how do you work this into your schedule? Simple! Below are the Enrichment Recipes for the PAW5 Enriched Life Challenge. Each of the five days is broken into five distinct times enrichment can be inserted into your daily schedule with recommended activities for each time slot. The goal of each day is to include each category of enrichment, provide a variety of activities across each category and make it as easy as possible for you to be successful! We want you and your dog to love this Challenge and see the benefits enrichment can bring to your lives!
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The actual #PAW5ENRICHEDLIFECHALLENGE
Food Container Puzzle Feeder: This is a great puzzle for dogs who don’t destroy and consume plastic. Simply cut a few holes in various places in the plastic and fill with kibble. Many dogs just like to crunch plastic bottles and milk jugs too. Easy and recyclable! You can make things a little tougher for them by placing paper towel rolls in the container. If this puzzle doesn’t work for your dog for any reason, then take the kibble and place it in tiny piles around the room or house for your pup to hunt down.
Peanut Butter Tennis Ball: This is a super easy treat to make for your dog that will cost you close to nothing (especially if you have an old tennis ball lying around). Simply take the ball, cut a slit into it then remove a small triangle. Fill the ball with peanut butter, and then let them work to get it out. They’ll be at it for awhile!
Hide and Seek: You can do this a number of ways: Bury toys or treats in a sand box. Place toys or treats in ladles and hang from trees. Place toys or treats in logs or other hiding places in yards.
Frozen Goodie Block: Take some kibble and their favorite toys then freeze them in some chicken broth. Perfect for the warm summer days, but still just as enjoyable as we head into fall weather!
Kibble Grass Hunt: Simply spread their kibble outside in the grass, let them enjoy the hunt for their food!
Stuffed Kong: Take a Kong toy and simply stuff if with your pup’s favorite treats! Or, you can visit their website for a ton of tasty recipes he’ll surely love. There’s so many to choose from, you can try a new one every time!
Leave It and Touch It Training:Now, there are some steps to these, but it’s still very simple to practice with your pup:
First, take two of your pup’s favorite treats; take the treats and your dog over to a low level place like the floor or a coffee table.
Put one of the treats in your pocket, then set the other on the floor or table right in front of your pup’s nose.
As you put the treat down instruct your dog to “Leave it” very slowly and firmly. Keep your hand next to the treat, because when your dog leans in to get it, cover it with your hand and repeat the command “Leave it”.
Give it a few seconds, then pull the treat away, praise your pup for a job well done, then reward him with the treat in your pocket (don’t give him the treat he is leaning on, it is being used as a training tool.)
Repeat this a few more times, and eventually your pup will catch on!
Grab your pup’s favorite treat in one hand in close it. Take your other hand and place it close to your dog’s nose, palm facing them, with fingers pointing to either side of your dog (picture a sideways “stop” hand signal) then instruct them to “touch” that hand. Only say the word “touch”.
What you’re looking for here is for them to touch that open hand with their nose, licking your hand doesn’t count!
Once they accomplish the touch respond to them with the word “Yes!” — this will be the signal for him that he did the right thing. Then reward him with the treat.
Repeat this; eventually you can work with larger distances, instructing your pup to come from across the room to touch your hand.
Massage: Your dog of course loves a good pet, a rub on the belly or a scratch behind the ears. But they, like us humans, also appreciate a good massage! But be careful, you don’t massage them the way you would massage a human.
Cardboard Box Puzzle: Simply put kibble inside a closed box. You can start with an easier puzzle first by cutting one side of the box, then each time making that hole smaller, increasing the challenge for them. Don’t be surprised when some clean up is required, they are likely going to destroy that box!
Stuffed Apple: Dogs love apples! There are a few recipes you could try with this, but we suggest this seasonal recipe — it’s perfect for both the fall and you Halloween lovers! Even better, there are some good modifications you can make to it, depending on any allergies your pup may have!
Tunnel Training: Tunnel training is one of many different types of agility training that implements verbal cues, performing tasks, and maintaining bodily awareness. This can be intimidating at first for your pup, and it will likely take some time, but in the end they’ll benefit so much from it (they’ll even grow to love it!).
Nose Work / Treat Hunt: This of course is focused on scents; use something that your dog loves and really knows the smell of or a treat that is more pungent than others.
Muffin Tin Puzzle: Keep the tin upright and divide the kibble up between the cups. Add difficulty by covering each section with a tennis ball or other toy.
Paper Towel Roll Puzzle: Take a used paper towel roll, and cut some holes into it that would be big enough to let kibble or treats fall out. Take some tape and close up the ends of the roll, and voila! You have perhaps the easiest DIY food/treat puzzle! This will require some clean up, as they are sure to destroy it!
Blanket Burrito: You can make this puzzle as easy or difficult as your pup can handle! You can simply scatter treats on the ground and cover it with a blanket; or sprinkle the treats into the blanket and roll it up, enclosing the treats. The hardest versions are to tie the blanket (or dish towel) with rubber bands in places or braid several blankets or dish towels together or create little compartments for the treats to go into. So simple!
Upside Down Muffin Tin: Turn a muffin tin upside down and spread kibble between the bumps. Your dog will have to nudge the food around from all different angles.This is good for larger dogs, but for smaller pooches try a mini muffin tin.
Shredded Grocery Bag Puzzle: In an open cardboard box, tear a paper grocery bag into small strips. Mix in kibble and breakfast is served.
PVC Pipe Puzzle: Cut a PVC pipe to about 12 inches, drill some random holes (large enough for your kibble), put end pieces on both ends, and you’re done!
Red Light / Green Light Game; This is a great game for training your pup with cues. (you may remember doing this type of game as a kid, actually!)
Hide and Seek: All you need is your dog’s favorite toy or treats. Have your dog sit and stay in one room while you hide in another. Once you’re settled, call your canine. When he finds you, reward him with the toy or treat.
Round Robin:Rally three or four people to play and take turns calling your dog’s name from different places in the room and throughout the house. Each time he comes, reward him with lots of praise. When your pooch has become an expert at the game indoors, take him outside where you can spread out even further from each other and increase the challenge.
Knotted Fabric Puzzle: This is an easy puzzle to make from objects around the house and perfect if you have a roller chew toy (the rubber toys that resemble what could be the frame of soccer ball.)
For the full PAW5 Enriched Life Challenge with ground rules, advice, activity instructions, and alternative activities, head over to the PAW5 Enriched Life Challenge home page.
We’d love to hear how your five days go: share below in the comments, and post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter using the hashtag #PAW5EnrichedLifeChallenge to show off your progress! Good Luck!