Incorporating enrichment activities into you and your Pet’s lives is so important! Enrichment activities are essential to your Pet’s health and your relationship with your Pet! They can strengthen your Pet’s quality of life, mental and physical strength, and overall well-being. Additionally, enrichment activities can decrease boredom, promote good behavior, and keep your Pet out of mischief. Enrichment activities prevent your Pet from experiencing any boredom while waiting for their Pet Parent to come home during the day. Additionally, they strengthen important skills such as searching, sniffing, problem solving, patience, and obedience. There are many different types of enrichment activities and ways to incorporate them into your Pet’s daily life! Here are some of our favorites:
#1: Solve Puzzles
Puzzles are a great mental exercise for Pets! They allow your Pet to learn patience, problem solving, and accomplishment. Plus, puzzles relieve boredom and distract your Pet, which allows you to get work done or focus on other things without any distractions. However, if your Pet is young, it is recommended that you interact with your Pet while they solve a puzzle, and keep the challenge simple. Chewy makes an adorable guacamole hide and seek puzzle that is a great puzzle to try for your Pet, and cats love this interactive laser toy! Puzzles can also be a great way to feed your Pet and strengthen their sense of smell. Puzzle feeders are reward based, which helps boost your Pet’s mood by giving them a sense of accomplishment and gets them excited for meals. They ensure that your Pet doesn’t eat too fast, keeping them fuller longer, and stimulate their sense of smell. Try a puzzle feeder for your cat or for your dog.
#2: Play with your Pet
It is so important to find time each day to play with your Pet! Playing with your Pet is one of the best forms of enrichment! Pets need love and attention, and playing with your Pet is a great way to give them the attention they need. This is a great way for your Pet an outlet to let out energy and strengthen the bond you share with your Pet. You can play fetch with this Chuckit Launcher, or tug of war with this tug of war toy. A fan favorite for cats is this caterpillar teaser. Keep in mind, it is important to rotate the toys your Pet is using so that they do not get bored and continue to get excited about their toys each time they play with them. It is also important to add a new toy into the mix every once in a while! Take a look at this video of two adorable dogs playing hide and seek with their Pet Parent!
#3: Give your Pet a Lick Mat
Lick mats are a great way to keep your dog occupied or reduce stress and anxiety! They are great for distraction if your Pet is feeling anxious during a storm or when you are trying to bathe or groom your Pet! One of the best things about lick mats is that they are so easy to put together yourself! You can buy a lick mat, or you can use a cutting board or cookie sheet! There are many different yummy treats you can put on your Pet’s lick mat! Peanut butter is a classic and super easy to use (just make sure it does not contain xylitol), but you can also use yogurt, applesauce, or honey and add some fruit into the mix for a little added sweetness! A great trick is to freeze the substance you are putting on the lick mat so that your Pet eats his or her sweet treat slower and has to work harder to get all the good stuff! Remember that this is a treat for your Pet and should be given in moderation, since the substances are caloric and high in sugar!
#4: Treasure Hunts
Treasure hunts for Pets are a great form of mental and physical exercise! Treasure hunts are a great way to strengthen your Pet’s sense of smell! They also help reinforce good behavior and strengthen problem solving skills. Hide a few treats around your house or backyard for your dog to find! It is a good idea to use treats that have a strong smell so they are easier for your Pet to find. Treasure hunts are the most beneficial for your Pet when you help them find each treat and celebrate their achievements! Another fun way that involves more interaction is to play hide and seek with your Pet! This is a great activity to reinforce your Pet’s ability to come to you when called. Start off by finding easy spots to hide in and call for your Pet to come and find you. You can gradually make your hiding spots more difficult and reward and praise your Pet for finding you!
#5: Have a Pet Playdate
Pets are social just like their Pet Parents! Socialization is so important to keeping your Pet happy and healthy. It helps your Pet adapt well to new environments, reduce aggression toward strangers or other animals, and reduce destructive behavior and separation anxiety. It is best to surround your Pet with other people and Pets when they are young, but there is no age limit to when you should begin! Take your Pet for a walk with a friend and their Pet, have a friend bring their pet over for a Pet playdate, or bring your Pet to a dog park to make new friends!