Enrichment for dogs is incredible as it can help you and your dog in so many ways.
From reducing problem behaviours and boredom, increasing your bond to supporting socialisation and improving confidence. It can also boost your training success and help develop key behaviours like settling and calmness.
The benefits of introducing enrichment are vast, and it is so worth introducing into your dog's daily routine.
Dog enrichment toys are a simple way of introducing sensory and mental enrichment into your dog's day.
There are a few things to keep in mind when introducing new enrichment toys to your dog, but the most important thing you can do is to set your dog up for success.
In this blog post, I will share my eight top tips on how to do this.
So let's dig in and take a look.
1. Choose a suitable difficulty level
Depending on the type of dog puzzle toy, some may specify a difficulty level. The higher the difficulty, the more challenging the puzzle. When starting, look for difficulty levels such as beginner, easy or level 1.
2. Start by packing the filling loosely
Dog enrichment toys like treat dispensers are designed to stuff food or treats inside. Initially, make it easy to access the filling by loosely packing it in for quick wins. As your dog levels up their skills, progress by gradually packing the filling tighter and tighter and eventually progress to freezing it.
3. Build up to freezing the filling
Dog enrichment toys like licking mats and treat dispensers can be frozen to prolong their use. When new or inexperienced with dog enrichment toys slowly build up to freezing the filling. Start by not freezing the filling, then progress to partially freezing and eventually to fully frozen. Remember to always ensure the holes in both ends of dog treat dispensers are not blocked. These are a safety feature designed to stop suction on your dog's tongue as they lick it.
4. Give them a little guidance
If your dog needs guidance or they are a little hesitant, help them out, give them little hints or even show them what to do. This will help develop their skills and help develop your bond and relationship with them. They will be a pro in no time as they grow in confidence. Let them investigate at their own pace and never force them to interact.
5. Make it easier
If they're getting frustrated, then it's likely that the enrichment toy is too challenging for them at this stage. Make it easier for them so they don't lose interest or start to associate enrichment toys with frustration. We want to make it a fun and enjoyable experience for them.
6. Muffle the sound
If they’re worried about the combined sound and movement of dog treat dispensers at first, try laying them on a towel to muffle the sound and let them get used to the movement by itself initially. Remove the towel as they grow in confidence to reintroduce the sound.
7. Use a slip-proof mat
If you have a dog puzzle toy that slides on the floor, consider using a slip-proof mat to stop this from happening.
8. Remove dog enrichment toys after use
I recommend removing dog enrichment toys after use to prevent any temptation to chew or destroy them. I also always recommend supervising your dog at all times whilst using them and checking them regularly for signs of damage.
So there you have it, 8 steps to dog enrichment toy success.
If you’d like to dive into the world of canine enrichment, then why not explore our dog enrichment toy range here.