Here’s an Enrichment Challenge That Will Make Your Dog’s Life Awesome!
The #PAW5EnrichedLifeChallenge is a 5-day enrichment schedule that focuses on introducing new experiences into your dog’s world in order to work her brain, focus her energy and grow your bond. Overall it will improve the quality of her life!
We know there’s more to life than lying on the couch – it’s time your dog learned that too!
When you decide to adopt a dog, it’s typically understood you are signing yourself up for training, exercise, and time spent dedicated to that new pup in your life. What many dog owners (especially new ones) may not realize is that it doesn’t stop there; simply walking your dog a few times a week and basic training won’t lead to fulfilling lives for them. There’s much more to it – they need enrichment, and you can provide that for them in a multitude of ways.
Dedicated to providing enrichment for dogs through thoughtful product design and education, PAW5™ is launching their #PAW5EnrichedLifeChallenge. This one-of-a-kind program challenges pet parents to provide five days of ideal enrichment for their dogs to further engage their pup’s mind and body in healthy and rewarding activities that will keep them mentally sharp and physically fit.
WHAT IS ENRICHMENT?
Now, you may have been hearing more and more about the concept of enrichment, but what is it and why is it so important? Even more, how can the busiest of pet parents implement it into their dog’s life?
Enrichment is a way to provide mental and physical stimulation for your dog by way of puzzles, training, games, and socialization – all built to tap into natural canine instincts and behaviors. There are six defined categories pet parents can choose from with the goal of finding the ones that best suit their individual pup:
This includes anything and everything that stimulates your dog’s senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. This is where playing in the grass, rolling in the dirt and splashing in water come in. You can also support this through TV programming, music and scent work.
This is how you can make feeding time challenging, engaging and fun. It’s about putting hunting and foraging skills to use, employing the power of their nose and their brains to get to the good stuff!
3// TOYS & PUZZLES
These products encourage your dog to engage and manipulate them to get a desired results…normally treats. But it also includes plush, rubber, rope and fetch toys, and the regular rotation of these so that your pup continues to engage with them.
Adding something new to your dog’s environment can peak curiosity and sometimes increase physical activity. Build a ramp in the backyard, place a mirror in the living room, go play on a playground, go for a hike in the woods.
Interaction with other people and other dogs builds trust and self confidence. Whether you are going to the dog park, to the pet store, in car or to a friend’s house, engagement with new environments, new people and new dogs will help keep your pup well socialized.
Training is an incredible time to bond with your dog, building trust, rapport and some much needed listening skills. Whether you are training the basics or have moved on to trick training, the time spent doing this has great benefits for your dog and your relationship.
WHY SHOULD YOU TAKE THE CHALLENGE?
Boredom can make even the best dog do naughty things: it can turn shoes and remote controls into chew toys, the trash into an afternoon snack and the garden into a mosh pit. But it’s not your dog’s fault. Can you imagine being home alone all day with no thumbs?
Environmental enrichment combats boredom by engaging dogs in activities that stimulate them mentally and physically. And even in small doses, enrichment has other incredible effects:
It will improve your bond. The one between you and your dog. Which is really all your dog wants anyway. You two will have shared experiences, work better together as a team and, well, bond.
It will keep your dog young. Enrichment activities provide mental and physical exercise, keeping the mind sharp and the body fit. With a healthy mind and body, the length and quality of life are increased.
It will make your dog tired. Thinking, problem solving and physical activity are all exhausting. And as the old (and true) saying goes, “A tired dog is a good dog.” And a good dog gets positive attention and has a better bond with its owner, which is really all your dog wants.
It keeps life interesting. Can you imagine endless days with nothing to do? It sounds like a great vacation idea, but if that was your whole life, it would be extraordinarily boring. Enrichment breaks up the day, tosses in something new and triggers thought. It literally gives your dog a job.
It gives them the right thing to do. When all of your dog’s instincts tell him to bark, dig and chew, it’s hard for him to know how to channel that energy. Enrichment activities build on these innate behaviors and give your dog an appropriate outlet for his favorite fun.
THE FIVE GROUND RULES TO KNOW BEFORE YOU START!
1// CREATE A PREDICTABLE LIFE
Whereas we humans like to vary our routines, doing this can often cause anxiety or unease in many dogs. They like a schedule they can set their watches by so they understand when it is time to sleep, eat, play, train, and go outside. We know not every day can be the same for any family, but a basic schedule can go a long way in establishing a sense of security and trust with your dog.
2// SCHEDULE TIME FOR BALANCE
Make sure there is time in each day dedicated to social interaction and attention, as well as solo play or periods of inattention. Both of these are healthy for your dog in the right doses and, quite frankly, necessary for a balanced life. Best of all, both of these scenarios offer great opportunities to enrich your dog’s life and improve your relationship.
Examples of social interaction and attention include training, play dates with other dogs, brushing, hide and seek, and other games with you. Solo play or periods of inattention are a great time for thinking and problem solving toys, ie. a peanut-butter-filled Kong, or time for rest and sleep.
3// BUILD OFF INSTINCTS
When deciding what new activities you are going to try, your best bet is to build off of your dog’s natural instincts – both as a canine and as a breed. It is important to think of what your dog was born to do, no matter the make or model. This includes behaviors like hunting, thinking, and socializing.
By aligning enrichment not only with their general canine instincts, but also with their breed’s natural tendencies, it will help shape activities that are a good outlet for behaviors that are completely natural and, at the same time, unacceptable; think digging in the yard, chewing your shoes, alert barking or herding the neighbors’ children.
4// LOOK TO MIX IT UP
Although your dog’s routine should stay the same, the enrichment activities you choose should continue to offer variety and a constant challenge. Look for new ways to do current activities, new behaviors to teach, or harder games to play. For instance, using a puzzle feeder like the Rock N’ Bowl is a great step toward enriching your dog’s life, but to increase the benefits of the bowl, it should be rotated through your dog’s meals along with other puzzle feeders and food hunts.
5// DO WHAT’S POSSIBLE
Too busy to do all the activities every day? That’s okay. There is a lot packed into each of these days (otherwise it wouldn’t be called a challenge, right?!). hether or not you’re new to enrichment, this can be a bit overwhelming. But remember it’s only five days and not necessarily how you will be able to live every day of your life. Do what you can and know your dog will appreciate any effort you put into it!
Now how do you work this into your schedule? Simple! Below are the Enrichment Recipes for the PAW5 Enriched Life Challenge. Each of the five days is broken into five distinct times enrichment can be inserted into your daily schedule with recommended activities for each time slot. The goal of each day is to include each category of enrichment, provide a variety of activities across each category and make it as easy as possible for you to be successful! We want you and your dog to love this Challenge and see the benefits enrichment can bring to your lives!
WHAT YOU NEED TO GET STARTED
So let’s get started! We’ve broken each day into five sections (that means your pup will have 25 enriching moments this week!) in an effort to align your dog’s enrichment activities with even the busiest of schedules. And below each day you’ll find information to help you create, prepare or enhance each activity. Have fun!
Supplies you’ll need from around the house:
- An old tupperware or food container with lid
- Peanut butter
- A large tupperware or food container, no lid
- Chicken broth
- Cardboard box
- Blanket and two chairs or a pop-up tunnel
- Muffin Tin
- Empty paper towel roll
- Pillow case or dish towel
- Paper grocery bag
Supplies you may need to purchase:
- Seven tennis balls
- Rock ’N Bowl or any other food puzzle
- Kong or any other treat toy
- PVC pipe with holes
For DogTV and Mood Music:
- Mood Music can be found on www.caninelullabies.com, throughadogsear.com, www.cesarsway.com, or on Spotify
- DogTV has a month free trial subscription or you can find it on YouTube
HERE ARE THE DAILY MENUS!
Here are the five daily schedules with instructions on how to create the day’s activities below each menu. Be sure to get the supplies you need and read through all the menus so you are prepared for the week ahead. You can download the full list of menus here. A little time up front will make including these activities into your already busy schedule much easier!
Notes for Monday’s Activities:
Food Container Puzzle Feeder
This is a great puzzle for dogs who don’t destroy and consume plastic. Simply cut a few holes in various places in the plastic and fill with kibble. Many dogs just like to crunch plastic bottles and milk jugs too. Easy and recyclable! You can make things a little tougher for them by placing paper towel rolls in the container. If this puzzle doesn’t work for your dog for any reason, then take the kibble and place it in tiny piles around the room or house for your pup to hunt down.
Peanut Butter Tennis Ball
This is a super easy treat to make for your dog that will cost you close to nothing (especially if you have an old tennis ball lying around). Simply take the ball, cut a slit into it then remove a small triangle. Fill the ball with peanut butter, and then let them work to get it out. They’ll be at it for awhile!
Hide and Seek
You can do this a number of ways:
1. Bury toys or treats in a sand box.
2. Place toys or treats in ladles and hang from trees.
3. Place toys or treats in logs or other hiding places in yards.
Frozen Goodie Block
Take some kibble and their favorite toys then freeze them in some chicken broth. Perfect for the warm summer days, but still just as enjoyable as we head into fall weather!
Notes on Tuesday’s Activities:
Kibble Grass Hunt
Simply spread their kibble outside in the grass, let them enjoy the hunt for their food!
Take a Kong toy and simply stuff if with your pup’s favorite treats! Or, you can visit their website for a ton of tasty recipes he’ll surely love. There’s so many to choose from, you can try a new one every time!
Leave It and Touch It Training
Now, there are some steps to these, but it’s still very simple to practice with your pup:
- First, take two of your pup’s favorite treats; take the treats and your dog over to a low level place like the floor or a coffee table.
- Put one of the treats in your pocket, then set the other on the floor or table right in front of your pup’s nose.
- As you put the treat down instruct your dog to “Leave it” very slowly and firmly. Keep your hand next to the treat, because when your dog leans in to get it, cover it with your hand and repeat the command “Leave it”.
- Give it a few seconds, then pull the treat away, praise your pup for a job well done, then reward him with the treat in your pocket (don’t give him the treat he is leaning on, it is being used as a training tool.)
- Repeat this a few more times, and eventually your pup will catch on!
- Grab your pup’s favorite treat in one hand in close it. Take your other hand and place it close to your dog’s nose, palm facing them, with fingers pointing to either side of your dog (picture a sideways “stop” hand signal) then instruct them to “touch” that hand. Only say the word “touch”.
- What you’re looking for here is for them to touch that open hand with their nose, licking your hand doesn’t count!
- Once they accomplish the touch respond to them with the word “Yes!” — this will be the signal for him that he did the right thing. Then reward him with the treat.
- Repeat this; eventually you can work with larger distances, instructing your pup to come from across the room to touch your hand.
Your dog of course loves a good pet, a rub on the belly or a scratch behind the ears. But they, like us humans, also appreciate a good massage! But be careful, you don’t massage them the way you would massage a human:
- Always make sure they are in a calm, relaxed state before you start.
- Start by petting them gently all over. Talking softly to them will help keep them relaxed.
- Move to their neck, massaging in circular motions, keeping the pressure gentle still.
- Continue onto their shoulders — since that’s a spot they can’t reach maybe spend a little extra time there.
- Move onto the chest and the legs — be mindful of how they react to the legs, if they don’t seem very into it, move onto a different body part. If they do seem to like it, maybe try their feet, but again, be mindful with the pads on their feet.
- Massage their back using those circular motions, keeping gentle pressure.
- Make your way to the hind legs and tail area. Once you’re done you should have one stress-free pup!
Notes on Wednesday’s Activities:
Cardboard Box Puzzle
Simply put kibble inside a closed box. You can start with an easier puzzle first by cutting one side of the box, then each time making that hole smaller, increasing the challenge for them. Don’t be surprised when some clean up is required, they are likely going to destroy that box!
Dogs love apples! There are a few recipes you could try with this, but we suggest this seasonal recipe — it’s perfect for both the fall and you Halloween lovers! Even better, there are some good modifications you can make to it, depending on any allergies your pup may have!
Tunnel training is one of many different types of agility training that implements verbal cues, performing tasks, and maintaining bodily awareness. This can be intimidating at first for your pup, and it will likely take some time, but in the end they’ll benefit so much from it (they’ll even grow to love it!).
You can find these tunnels in a number of places, with a decently wide range in prices. But if you you’re looking for a more wallet-friendly one, you can actually check out places like Toys ‘R Us! If you’d rather use supplies you have at home, you can build a tunnel with two chairs and a blanket or sheet.
Nose Work / Treat Hunt
This of course is focused on scents; use something that your dog loves and really knows the smell of or a treat that is more pungent than others.
Have your dog in his stay position; while out of his sight, place his favorite toys or treats around the corner, just slightly hidden. Your dog may get a little frustrated at first as you do this, but he’ll catch on! If he is struggling, feel free to point it out. Also always encourage him as he’s close, you want to make this fun and exciting for him!
You can also drag the treat on the ground, making a scent trail for them to follow, then as they get better stop doing that for them.
Eventually make it harder for them to find their toys or treats, increasing the challenge and making the search that much more enriching for them.
Muffin Tin Puzzle
Keep the tin upright and divide the kibble up between the cups. Add difficulty by covering each section with a tennis ball or other toy.
Notes on Thursday’s Activities:
Paper Towel Roll Puzzle
Take a used paper towel roll, and cut some holes into it that would be big enough to let kibble or treats fall out. Take some tape and close up the ends of the roll, and voila! You have perhaps the easiest DIY food/treat puzzle! This will require some clean up, as they are sure to destroy it!
A more advanced version is to fill the tube with kibble and stuff both ends with a paper towel and then twist them closed.
You can make this puzzle as easy or difficult as your pup can handle! You can simply scatter treats on the ground and cover it with a blanket; or sprinkle the treats into the blanket and roll it up, enclosing the treats. The hardest versions are to tie the dish towel in a knot or knot several blankets or dish towels together or create little compartments for the treats to go into. So simple!
Upside Down Muffin Tin
Turn a muffin tin upside down and spread kibble between the bumps. Your dog will have to nudge the food around from all different angles.This is good for larger dogs, but for smaller pooches try a mini muffin tin.
Notes on Friday’s Activities:
Shredded Grocery Bag Puzzle
In an open cardboard box, tear a paper grocery bag into small strips. Mix in kibble and breakfast is served.
PVC Pipe Puzzle
Cut a PVC pipe to about 12 inches, drill some random holes (large enough for your kibble), put end pieces on both ends, and you’re done!
Red Light / Green Light Game
This is a great game for training your pup with cues. (you may remember doing this type of game as a kid, actually!
Hide and Seek
All you need is your dog’s favorite toy or treats. Have your dog sit and stay in one room while you hide in another. Once you’re settled, call your canine. When he finds you, reward him with the toy or treat.
Rally three or four people to play and take turns calling your dog’s name from different places in the room and throughout the house. Each time he comes, reward him with lots of praise. When your pooch has become an expert at the game indoors, take him outside where you can spread out even further from each other and increase the challenge.
Knotted Fabric Puzzle
This is an easy puzzle to make from objects around the house and perfect if you have a roller chew toy (the rubber toys that resemble what could be the frame of soccer ball)
- Take an old t-shirt you no longer want and cut it into strips.
- Tie the strips into knots then begin stuffing them into the toy.
- Hide a treat in there to give your pup a little extra incentive to really dig into the toy, pulling out the knotted fabric.
- You can repeat this as many times as you want really, do it til they’re worn out!
LAST MINUTE TIPS FOR SUCCESS!
- Be sure to rotate toys so the same ones aren’t available for play each day.
- If your dog is prone to chewing and swallowing things, do not leave them alone for any of these activities.
- Praise and encourage your dogs as they try new puzzles. They may not figure them out on the first go-round, but being present and helping them make it more fun for both of you.
- Training sessions should only last 10 minutes or as long as your dog is still engaged and having fun. All training should be a positive experience with plenty of rewards.
- As you add treats into these activities, be sure to reduce your dog’s intake of regular meals to balance daily calories.
- If your dog is more advanced and these activities are too easy, please share activities you do with your dog so everyone can learn new tricks!
- Remember – you can do this! A little of it, a lot of it, all of it – your dog will appreciate a week filled with new activities, no matter how many you can fit in!