Well, folks, it looks like we’re going to be in a state of quarantine/isolation/social-distancing for longer than just a couple of weeks. For many, this means we’re spending much more time with our dogs (and kids) than we ever have before. I don’t have kids, so I can’t help you with your homeschooling and activity planning, but I do have dogs. Luckily, if you have both, these ideas should be easy enough to involve the kids and maybe take your mind of things as you watch your dog discover the benefits of homemade enrichment.
I, for one, am a big fan of what I call “lazy enrichment” for dogs, which basically means minimal human effort, but maximum canine benefit. All of the activities also involve things you should have around the house.
Here are five lazy enrichment ideas to get you through this time
Food Scatters: This could not be an easier thing to do and it’s SO FUN to watch your dog. This activity is best if you have a fenced yard or space where your dog can be safely off leash. Take your dog’s regular meal and scatter it, one handful at a time and let ‘em go wild. If your dog isn’t crazy about his kibble and grazes all day, then try this with yummy treat in addition to kibble. You may find that even an unenthusiastic eater gets excited about searching out kibble in the ground. Here’s video of my dogs enjoying their dinner on a warm spring evening.
The Towel/Blanket Game: Get a large bath or beach towel, scatter your dog’s kibble, roll the towel up and let your dog find his meal. I’ve seen numerous videos of dogs learning this game and think it’s wonderful how deliberate they are with their sniffers to find the food. An alternative is to scatter food in sheet or blanket and swirl it so that it makes lots of folds and let your dog forage that way. Both methods are shown here:
Homemade Snuffle Box (or basket, or bin): Gather up your dog’s favorite toys, balls, etc. and put them in a box or bin. Throw in their kibble and let the games begin. This may not be the best game for a dog who is equally or more motivated by toys than food, but it’s worth a shot to see what kind of fun your dog can have with this game.
The Muffin Tin Game: Most of us have an old muffin tin (or two, or ten) hanging around the house. Grab a few, get some balls or toys that will cover up the cups. Place kibble below the cups and wait for your dog to discover the bounty!
Seek & Shred Boxes: If your dog doesn’t ingest cardboard, then this game can be a lot of fun if you’re willing to clean up the mess it leaves behind. Find a few old boxes, hide the kibble, then let the dog go from box to box to forage. Make some boxes harder than others, as shown here:
I hope this stirs up your creativity juices and gets you more engaged with your dog! Post pictures and video of your dog playing these games to my Facebook page!