The key to a happy, healthy, and well-behaved dog is providing them with regular enrichment to keep them from getting bored. There are several dog enrichment activities available to owners to keep their dogs engaged for long periods of the day. However, not all enrichment ideas are plausible for dogs that are known as “super chewers.”
To help you make the most out of your dog’s day, we have put together 5 simple DIY dog enrichment ideas to keep your pooches tail wagging. Read on to see just how easy making your super chewing dog happy can be.
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Why Is Dog Enrichment Important?
Before we dive into our enrichment activities for dogs, we want to talk about why you should be doing these simple enrichment activities every day for your dog. Many people see it as a fun activity to do, but there are quite a few benefits for the dogs. So, why is dog enrichment important?
There are several reasons why you should do dog enrichment, including because it leaves dogs emotionally, physically, and mentally satisfied. It also keeps them from self-soothing with destructive behaviors unwanted by owners.
Enrichment Improves Your Dog’s Quality of Life
Dog’s are just like humans in the way that they too experience boredom, anxiety, and depression. Enrichment activities help to stimulate your dog’s mind to relieve stress and fight off boredom. This leads to a happier life for your dog, which can in turn extend their days with you.
An active mind and body is a healthy mind and body. Dogs and humans are the same this way. Try to schedule enrichment activities for about 1 to 2 hours a day to improve their quality of life.
1. Alternative To Snuffle Mats
Snuffle mats are great because they encourage a dog’s natural instinct to forage and use their nose. However, if your dog is a big chewer, they might end up destroying the mat instead of benefiting from it. Since snuffle mats aren’t free, this can be a problem.
However, you can create your own snuffle mat by taking an old towel and laying it flat out on the floor. Place treats randomly on the towel and then roll it up and tie it in a knot.
You can also place your hand in the center of the flat towel and twist it up to create something that looks more like a snuffle mat than a knotted towel does.
However, we have found (with Harvey our expert super chewer) that rolling the towel and tying it in a knot results in longer playtime, and less in the dog just trying to chew the towel for fun. Instead, they undo the knot and get to the treats.
Why Use A Towel for Enrichment Games?
Depending on the size of your dog, you can either use a hand towel or a bath towel for this enrichment game. We recommend using a towel rather than a snuffle mat because towels are a bit harder to chew through than fleece. Plus, it is easier to come across an old towel you don’t use any more than to have to constantly buy new snuffle mats every time your dog chews through them.
2. The Canine Ice Bowl
If you don’t have any cheap towels you are willing to part with, this DIY dog enrichment activity allows your dog to destroy the enrichment game without any consequences.
There are two ways to go about making an enrichment ice bowl. One involves putting the treats inside the ice and one involves putting the treats under the ice bowl.
Canine Ice Bowl Designed To Hide Treats
This dog enrichment game involves freezing ice in the shape of a bowl and then placing it face down on top of treats. Your dog will be able to smell the treats beneath the ice and will have to figure out how to get to them.
You can create the ice bowl by using nesting bowls and filling water between the two bowls. You may have to use some sort of freezer-safe weight (i.e. an ice pack) to keep the smaller bowl pushed down into the bigger one to create an ice bowl between them. If you don’t have nesting bowls, you can use pots that fit within each other.
Your dog will either chew through the ice or figure out how to pick it up to get the treats below. This is a good alternative to hiding treats under cups because the “cup” is fine for the dog to destroy without accidentally ingesting something they are not supposed to.
Canine Ice Bowl With Treats Inside
Not sure how to make ice into a bowl shape because you don’t have nesting bowls and the pots just aren’t working? Fill up a bowl with ice and put treats inside it to freeze. This creates a block of ice with treats inside that your super chewer pooch will have to gnaw through to be rewarded.
To do this on a smaller scale, you can also fill up water balloons with water and treats to freeze. This creates a smaller ice block filled with treats. Dogs love chewing through the ice to get to their reward.
The only downfall to this is that it leaves a watery mess afterward. So, be sure to do it outside or on a towel to soak up the water when the dog is done (sometimes we use a tray).
3. Enrichment Fun With Muffin Tins
This DIY dog enrichment activity is super easy to do. All you need is some balls, a muffin tin, and treats.
Most dog owners have some sort of ball for their dogs to play with. As a super chewer dog owner, it may be difficult to use tennis balls because they get destroyed in seconds. However, we have found that Chuck-It balls and Kong balls hold up well.
Simply take a large muffin tin and place treats or kibble in each muffin slot. Then place a ball on top of the treats snuggly in the muffin tin. Your dog will have fun sniffing through the balls and finding the ones with treats below them.
4. Dogs Love Bubbles
The magic of bubbles isn’t just for humans. Dogs love them too! Go get yourself some bubbles and make the magic happen for your dog. They will love jumping and chasing them around!
You can even buy bubbles specifically made for dogs off of Amazon or from Chewy. They are scented to smell like different meats or peanut butter to entice dogs to chase after them. Also, these bubbles tend to stay intact better, making it fun for your dog to continue to chase them even after they land on the ground.
Bouncing for bubbles is also a great photoshoot idea for your dog (just saying). Get a bubble machine and play inside or out to give your dog one happy day!
5. Black Kong Toys
Lots of dog enrichment toys do not hold up for super chewers. They look fun but your dog destroys them in the first use, causing you to waste your money on a few minutes of happiness. However, we have found that the black kong toys (and even most of the red ones) can take a beating before having to be tossed out.
To make these toys more enriching, you can stuff treats inside to entice your dog for a longer period of time. Depending on what your dog likes, there are endless possibilities here.
What To Stuff Kongs With
Any dog-friendly food can go inside the different Kong toys. If you are using store-bought treats, make sure they do not contain BHA, as this can be very harmful to your dog’s health. Also, be sure that you are not giving more than the recommended amount of treats for the day.
Personally, we suggest using foods like carrots or blueberries to stuff your Kong. Our dog Harvey’s favorite kong consists of:
- Salt-free all-natural peanut butter
- Fish oil
Occasionally, we bake our own homemade dog treats and cut them up to put into the Kongs. Sometimes we even let them freeze afterward to result in longer playtime. But, usually just stuffing does the trick.
Depending on how big the Kong is and how determined your dog is, this enrichment can last anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour (maybe even longer). As your dog gets better at figuring out how to get the treats out, start mixing up the experience by hiding the kong or tying it up in a towel. Be sure to rotate kong toys to make the experience different every time.
Have Fun With Your Dog With Enrichment
No matter what enrichment option you choose, the important part is that you have some fun with your dog.
Enrichment comes in many forms. It is not just stuffing Kongs or freezing treats. It is about taking the time to give your dog a life filled with adventure and learning.
Enrichment can be going on a walk and letting your dog follow their nose. It can be snuggling up on the couch or scattering their food in a puzzle feeder. It is all about spending time with your dog and allowing them to be a dog.
You can follow Harvey on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter to be a part of his adventures!