How to Enrich your dog's life

Author: Amanda   Date Posted:17 February 2017 


Boredom and excessive energy are two common reasons for behaviour problems in dogs.  This makes sense because they are meant to lead active lives.  As pet owners we sometimes forget that our dogs were originally bred for specific tasks.  Although we may no longer use them for those tasks, our dogs still want a job to do. 

If you think about it – if you were left along for that amount of time with nothing to do, wouldn’t you become bored without any mental stimulation?

In my discussion with Dr. Gaille Perry, a leading Veterinary Behaviourist in Australia, and expert in the area of animal behaviour she stated “Enrichment is the opportunity to socialise, particularly with their family, training, a view, sounds from the radio or TV, puzzle toys, digging pits and paddle pools. The key is novelty - anything can become boring if they get it every day!”



Many dog owners ask questions about behaviours their dogs’ display that may frustrate them.  My dog chews on everything.” “My dog won’t stop barking.” “My dog jumps all over people.” Do any of these questions sound familiar?  It’s important that we let dogs be dogs.

So how can we provide our dog with these natural outlets without us becoming frustrated? Allow your dog to be a dog.  Provide your dog with suitable outlets for their natural behaviours of chewing, digging and scavenging.









Many dogs don’t get enough exercise and obesity in dogs is one of the most common nutritional diseases in dogs.  Even if you have a large yard, a dog will still need the opportunity to exercise beyond your fence.  Burning of excess energy is key to reducing nuisance behaviours.  Taking your dog out and about also provides mental stimulation: a time to experience a variety of sights, sounds and smells.



Just like people, dogs are social animals and many enjoy spending time with 

members of their own species.  If you have friends or family members with dogs, why not organise a doggy play date or exercise your dogs together?  Off leash dog areas should be approached with caution and strict supervision as we want to make sure all interactions our dogs have is positive and free of conflict.



Dogs love to dig.  Provide them with a digging area.  A children’s clam shell filled with sand is a fantastic way to let your dog unleash its natural desire to dig.

As an added incentive hide treats and fun toys in the sand pit and encourage him to dig there and when he does, reward him. This is sure to keep your dog happy and entertained.  Plus it saves your garden and plants being destroyed.



Is your dog a water dog?  You can also fill up a clam shell with some water and toss treats such as the Aqua Kong or Chuckit! Aqua range of toys in to encourage your dog to cool down in summer.


Leaving the radio or TV on when you are not at home can be mentally stimulating and also calming for your dog.



A few minutes a day is all it takes to practice training your dog.  This helps strengthen the bond between you and your companion and also is mentally stimulating.  Training doesn’t have to be a chore. Make it fun and start to teach your dog some cool tricks!  Ensure the rewards are of high value – check out our range of Next Generation Dog and Love ‘Em dog treats.


Even with regular walks, our busy lifestyles cannot provide canine companions the level of activity and mental stimulation they need.  For most dogs a typical day consists of lying around for 8-10 hours, waiting for their owner to come home, a perfect recipe for behaviour problems and a very bored dog.

By providing your dogs ‘job’s to do when they are by themselves, they will be less likely to come up with their own ways to entertain themselves like chewing on your favourite pair of shoes or the sofa, raiding the rubbish bin, digging up your garden or barking excessively at people or the neighbour’s dog.  Insufficient stimulation can cause or exacerbate a number of problem behaviours including hyperactivity, attention seeking behavior and compulsive disorders.

This is where enrichment toys come in.  Dogs are natural scavengers.  By making dogs work to get their food or treats by solving puzzles, we are encouraging them to exercise their brain and body.  You’ll find these go along way in keeping your dog happy.  Studies have shown that when given food in enrichment toys, dogs were generally more active but less likely to bark.  By providing ongoing mental stimulation, enrichment feeding toys have shown to slow down our dog’s cognitive decline due to age.

So…. What can we give our dogs to provide this mental stimulation? 

Here are a few examples of enrichment toys.



These are sturdy containers made of hard rubber or plastic that hold food or treats inside but don’t give the dog easy access to the food.  They usually have holes on the ends or on the sides, and dogs must work by shaking, rolling, pawing, licking or chewing at the toy to get the food to come out.   Food puzzles require time, patience and problem solving – all skills that are good for your dog and will help them enjoy quiet time alone.  Food puzzle toys offer a natural solution to pet boredom.  They also encourage chewing and licking, which can have a calming effect on dogs.

Examples of food puzzles toys include:

You can use your dog’s regular dry food or add yummy treats (such as Next Generation treats, Kong Stuff’n Paste or any combination of food you think your dog would love.

*Remember though that any food used in these toys needs to be taken into consideration in the dog’s daily calorie intake. *

All dogs learn at different paces.  Some will learn to use treat dispensing toys very easily and often become bored when it becomes too easy for them.  Other dogs take a while to learn how to use the toy and can give up if they don’t receive any reinforcement (e.g. the food coming out).  If your dog is usually accustomed to eating out of a dog bowl then they will have some learning to do!! 

The general rule is: Start easy and gradually make it harder.  It’s important to teach your dog how to use the toys.  This will also ensure you supervise them when initially introducing the toy to ensure the dog does not injure themselves or break the toy.










Pet Projeckt Holobal & Holobon toys are stylish and come in a range of cool colours. Since they’re made from rubber, Holobon and Holobal are squishy, bendy, and super durable. Since the Holobon and Holobal are — you guessed it — hollow, you can easily slip treats inside to add to the fun. As your dog becomes an expert you can make it harder to provide an extra challenge.  My Golden Retriever Bodhi absolutely loves these toys!  

Try the JW Treat Tower or Treat pod toys or stuff a Kong or Gorrrilla toy with treats plus chicken broth and freeze it for an even longer lasting challenge.



All dogs love to chew.  Whether you have a puppy or an adult dog, it’s important to provide them with a variety of safe and attractive chew toys like Fresheeze, Kong®, Dogzilla toys,Rawhide and Next Generation chews (for example Pigs ears or Roo Tendons).

By providing these options it will help to keep your valuable belongings untouched.



Nothing replaces a chance to play for your dog to play with you.  It strengthens the bond between you and your companion.  Many dogs enjoy playing fetch whether it be with balls or Frisbees or a good old game of tug-o-war. See our range of Durofoam, Jolly Pet toys, Kong Air Dog, Chukit! and Yours Drooly Rope toys.


The Tuffie brand of pet toys are extremely durable soft toys.  They are made with 7 layers of material for maximum durability.  Kong Extreme and Tirebiter toys are made from extremely durable rubber for dogs with stronger chewing power.



Dogs that have ‘softer mouths’ love nothing more than carrying around a plush toy.  We have a range of great toys by Charming Pet and Multipet to satisfy their needs.



The selection should be based on how your dog likes to interact with toys.  Some dogs like to lie down and chew while others enjoy using their paws to move toys around.  All dogs are different so try out a range of toys to find the ones that best engage your canine buddy physically and mentally.  Consider the size and material of the toy. Make sure you initially supervise your dog with a toy to ensure it is safe and appropriate for your dog.

Rotate your dog’s toys to keep him interested.  Keep a toy box and each day change the toys the dog has access to. 

The key is novelty – anything can become boring if a dog gets it every day. 

Making sure your dog is kept physically and mentally happy is an important role we play in their lives.  Here at The Vet Shed we understand this and you will find that we stock a large range of these toys and accessories to help you and your beloved canine companion.

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