What is Canine Enrichment?

All our dogs love to play. Whether it’s chasing a ball for hours, a tug of war with a favorite toy, or simple rough housing, our pets love physical activity. However, they need more than this – a dog needs to exercise their senses such as sight, taste, touch, hearing, and smell. They also need to exercise their cognitive abilities which will minimize their frustrations resulting in less barking, zoomies, and chewing behaviors. It’s these types of “brain exercises” that come under the broad category of “enrichment” and what is a major part of the curriculum at Fetch Pet Family Pet Resort.

Most people bring their dogs to Fetch for the opportunity to socialize with other people, dogs, and the amazing experience of group animal play. When one pulls up, they hear dogs in our yards barking and playing in an open, safe, and natural habitat. I always get a kick out of seeing a dog get out of a car. Their ears perk up as they realize it’s PLAY time.

German shepherd walking in the grassWhat isn’t always seen is the other part of our program involving mental stimulation which can be just as tiring and equally as rewarding. At Fetch, we employ a variety of games to exercise your dog’s mind. For example, utilize a snuffle mat so your pet utilizes a sniffing strategy to methodically work through a maze of fabric to locate hidden treats. It harkens back to animal’s scavenging behaviors and this form of “hide n seek” is one of the favorites. This type of exercise and others are done during structured class time where dogs take turns exercising their brains and taking breaks – just like in school.

Dogs love using their sense of smell. A great enrichment game to play at home is to make your pet “stay” in one room – practices responding to your commands – while you hide their favorite toy or treat in another room. Then return to where your dog has patiently waited and tell them to go “find it.” It’s also a good idea to take your dog for a walk and let them just sniff. Let the walk be the dog’s agenda because how your pet relates to the environment is a direct response to what they smell.

When you bring your dog to Fetch, it’s more than random physical play. We focus on the whole dog. The psychological term used by vets and animal behaviorists is “enrichment,” and it’s about exercising your pet in a physically and mentally in structured environment – which, by definition, is a curriculum. The best enrichment exercises are ones that allow your pet to use their innate abilities which ultimately keep them more satisfied, calmer, and happier. Have questions about the enrichment curriculum at Fetch? Want some great exercises to do at home? – shoot me an email at Carolyn@fetchresort.com. I’m only a bark away.

 – Carolyn