In between feeding and play time, enrichment is an aspect that most pet owners overlook. By providing enrichment, you can open up your pets to new and interesting species-specific behaviour.
For example, they would learn how to use their senses in new ways, use their environment, get more exercise, more learning leading to a decrease in boredom and abnormal behaviour.
Dogs that don’t receive a variety of stimulation turn to unwanted behaviour as a way of finding enrichment for themselves.
Dogs own an impressive olfactory sense, a.k.a their nose. They spend most of their time going around smelling things. Providing your beloved pet with scent enrichment is easy to do at home.
From toys to DIY, this article will highlight all the different ways you can provide the much-needed enrichment to your pet dog.
Scent Enrichment For Dogs – Getting Started
The below listed scents have been proven to show behavioural benefits in dogs. These are all-natural, easily available and non-toxic scents which are absolutely safe for dogs.
Do remember variety is the key. Don’t be shy to mix them up and introduce your dog to different scents on a regular basis.
Packed with excellent digestive benefits for dogs, ginger comes true as a great tool for scent enrichment as well. Ginger root is readily available at most local supermarkets.
You can easily rub a quarter of ginger root on surfaces around your house to leave its strong, distinctive smell. As per a research, when kennelled rescue dogs were exposed to the scent of ginger, they showed a decrease in unwanted barking and lowered stress and agitation.
Since ginger is safe to be eaten by dogs, you can try chopping ginger root into small pieces and hiding them around your dog’s bed or their crate.
The act of engaging in an activity of searching for these tasty treats along with the effect of the scent, will bring in calmness to the more anxious dogs. It will reduce stress and anxiety and help them settle in more effectively.
With regards to scent enrichment, coconut shares a lot of similarities with ginger. When exposed to the scent of coconut, dogs tend to bark less and be less restless or anxious. This is solely due to the mental stimulation the scent provides.
Coconut for scent enrichment can be used in multiple ways, depending on if you have got coconut in pieces or in an oil form. Similar to ginger, you can chop this tasty treat into pieces and rub it off on fabrics and other surfaces you sure know your dog will visit.
Another way is to hide the pieces for your dog to find and gobble up. If you are using coconut oil, you can use it with puzzle feeders and Kongs. Simply coat the inside of a Kong with a layer of coconut oil or apply along the grooves of a puzzle feeder.
Best Scented Dog Toys – UPDATED 2021
Planet Dog Pet Toys
Planet dog makes durable rubber orbee tuff dog toys that are scented with fresh mint. They are unable to destroy even if your dog chews it or tears it apart.
Their Orbee Tough is especially great for senior dogs. They come in high color contrast and they also have a little place to insert scented treats, peanut butter or cheese.
Toxin-free, sustainable and all natural, the vanilla scented dog bone from BecoThings is made of natural rubber and rice husk. It is extremely strong and perfect for fetch, even for the most enthusiastic dogs.
DIY Scented dog toys
Alternatively, you can also scent dog toys in multiple ways. If you own soft, plus toys, try scenting them with vanilla extracts or mint.
For hard, squeaky toys, place them in a zip lock bag with an intensely scented food item like dried liver for a few days until the toy has soaked in the scent. Another way to make scented toys at home is to immerse hard, solid toys in meat stock for a couple of hours.
In this method, the scent will fade away soon but it’s worth your time to keep refreshing the scent regularly.
DIY Enrichment For Dogs – What You Should Know?
The following fun, DIY projects include food, environment and scent DIY enrichment ideas. It can be done within your home and will keep your dog busy and entertained. Make sure you constantly supervise them while they are around DIY objects.
DIY Licking Mat
Create a licking mat for your dog using items you might already have. Take a chopping board from your kitchen and spread a layer of peanut butter over it.
Freeze the tray overnight before giving it to your pup. Hotpad pads made of silicone are also a great alternative due to their texture. Silicone pads can be easily tossed into the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
Any object that is non-porous and has a non-abrasive surface works great for this DIY. For example, ice cube trays and silicone made baking equipment. Silicone material is preferred to use since it’s easy to clean and gentle on your dog’s tongue.
Gather several cardboard boxes. Put them on the floor and add in scent-enriched treats in a few boxes. Bring your dog into the room and with the boxes and make them search for the treats. When they find a treat, praise them and let them eat it.
You can also do the same thing with a muffin tray. Put a few treats in the muffin tin holes and cover all the holes with tennis balls. Let them move the balls to search for the treat beneath.
You can spice up the game by changing the location of the treat every time your dog plays, so they are compelled to use their nose to find it.
Dog Enrichment Schedule
|Sunday to Saturday (Weekly Schedule)|
|45 mins of supervised playtime (indoor or outdoor).|
|Popsicles like dog food, yogurt cups, frozen peanut butter mixed with water.|
|Hollow rubber kong toys with a treat-filled center.|
|Puzzle toys with treats.|
|Chewable toys or treats.|
|Scented toys with dog-specific scents like vanilla, coconut and peppermint.|