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Introducing the Fifth Category of Enrichment: Social

by Dennis ODonnell on April 29, 2020

We’re already at the end of the week, and that much closer to the #PAW5EnrichedLifeChallenge! As you prepare this weekend, one big level of enrichment that will definitely be part of the challenge is that of social enrichment! Dogs are social animals who need to spend time interacting with other animals and people. Whether you’re taking them to the dog park, the pet store or just a play date in the back yard, this sort of engagement will keep them happier and healthier.

The goal is to provide time regularly for your dog to interact with other dogs, both ones they know and new ones, and other people. However, some of you pet parents may have shy, nervous, fearful or aggressive dogs, who aren’t so ready for these types of interactions. Always keep in mind your dog’s personal boundaries when introducing any type of enrichment, including social.

But, for the pups who love meeting new people, and shine bright under the attention of anyone and everyone, there is tons of fun to be had! Same species play helps them remember how to be a dog, how to behave and how to play. Do some research on the dog parks in your city and find one that seems safe for you both to venture to. Another option is calling up your friends who also have dogs and planning a “Doggie Date” for them; head to the park together, go to one of your homes, or simply take them on a walk together. Chances are your pups already have interacted before, so this should be an easier situation for you both to navigate.

Your dog is also going to benefit from interaction with other people. When on walks through your neighborhood, stop for quick hellos along the way with your neighbors, take your pup to the store or to the pet-friendly cafe around the corner. Find places where your dog can see, smell and engage with new people to help her become a more well-rounded dog.

Finally, be sure you’re spending some quality one-on-one time with your pup. Whether they’re shy or incredibly outgoing, time spent solely with you will be number one in their book. Whether you’re on a quiet walk together, you’re doing a training session, or your relaxing on the couch together, they’ll love you that much more for taking the time to build your relationship them.

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