What is Enrichment?

Nina Ottosson Enrichment Games

Nina Ottosson Enrichment Games

What is Enrichment for your Pet?

We hear a lot of talk about “enrichment” toys these days, but what does that actually mean?

Do your pets really need “enriching”?

We first came across the term many years ago, where it was used in connection with zoo animals. Animals confined to a cage or kept in an environment that is not natural need something stimulating to help prevent boredom and enrich their lives. To emulate activities and behaviours that they would encounter naturally.

Cats, dogs and horses are smart animals and need stimulation and enrichment too.

How many pets develop unwanted behaviours that could be down to boredom?

There are hundreds of enrichment toys available these days, but the key is finding the ones that your dog or cat or horse enjoys.

Most dogs are food motivated – but not all. Cats – and horses too. Treats can be a big part of enrichment games, but then so can toys. What about the dogs that are crazy about squeaky toys or tennis balls?

Choose your product wisely

Before you choose your enrichment “product”, take some time to discover what motivates your pet.

All of our dogs are food motivated, so any treat toy would work for them. Tilly adores squeaky toys, but they terrify Toby, so we have to be very careful.

Petsafe Ricochet

Tilly loves the Petsafe Ricochet

Most of our dogs have tried and tested various toys and games as puppies, so they are familiar with the concepts. There have been some games that they’ve taken to and others that have frustrated them and they’ve quickly lost interest.

When choosing your game or toy, ensure that it is not too difficult for your pet to “win” the prize.

Daisy tries out some enrichment toys

Daisy found the Dog Box frustrating but fully engaged with the Poker Box

You may think your pet is a genius, but start simple

Start with something simple, and once your pet has mastered it, you can move on to something more challenging.

Toby vs the Caterpillar

The Caterpillar was Toby’s first enrichment toy

The majority of these enrichment toys/games are designed to be interactive. This means that you, as the owner, should be involved too – either teaching, encouraging or removing the game once it is done. They can have small pieces that you wouldn’t want your pet to chew or swallow.

Fun for the whole family

Homemade enrichment toys

Make your own enrichment toys with treats, a muffin that’s interesting and tennis balls

Once you have the key to what stimulates your pet, you can incorporate it into your day-to-day life. Get the whole family involved. It needn’t take hours of your time or cost a fortune – just a simple routine that gets your pet engaged, relieves stress and boredom and makes them happy! Watching your pet play and figure things out can be fascinating.

Cat Activity Fun Circle

Cat Activity Fun Circle is one of Tuesday’s favourite games

Share your own DIY enrichment toys and win a prize!

Join and post a picture on our Facebook group – Canine Enrichment Ideas and you could win an activity toy for your pet!  We have a prize for the best canine and for the best cat ideas.

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