We hear a lot about enriching our dogs' lives and there are more and more enrichment accessories in the shops which encourage us to keep the dog busy. You can buy things now such as puzzle games, snuffle mats and other such items. The marketing behind them is fantastic. It tells you that they will tire the dog out, mentally stimulate the dog and ultimately keep the dog busy all the time.
I think this ethos of keeping our dogs stimulated and mentally busy all the time has made us forget that we should actually be encouraging our dogs to rest indoors, there are other ways and, in my opinion, much more effective ways to enrich our dogs' lives and walks other than using snuffle mats or throwing food on the floor and encouraging our dogs to scavenge.
One thing that I have said in previous posts is that we should really be teaching our dogs to settle more, rather than encouraging them to continue doing things all the time. My dogs are taught to just relax and chill out at home. Games and play time happen outside.
So how do we enrich the lives of our dogs?
Well, a dog's nose is around 100,000 times stronger than our human nose.
You know when you walk down the high street and smell the local bakery baking fresh bread and cakes? The smell of the freshly baked food will often make your mouth water. Imagine that magnified, then imagine you could smell the perfume of the last 4 people that walked past the house 5 minutes before leaving.
In fact, a dog's nose is so good that a male dog, can smell a female dog in heat up to 3 miles away. If my dog's senses are this strong there is a high chance that just by walking my dog, allowing him some exercise, taking him to different places and generally taking him out is a form of enriching my dog's life to ensure that he is experiencing a number of different smells and taking in a vast amount of information without throwing food in the grass or on the floor or having to use a snuffle mat. A walk and time spent with you is a great way to enrich your dog's life.
The other way that I enrich my dog's life is by training and having short but fun training sessions whilst I am out walking. This may be something as simple as loose lead walking or strengthening my recall in different environments. Whatever the training I am doing, I am enriching my dog's life, I am educating them, I am occupying them but most of all I am building my relationship and having fun with them.