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Introducing the First Category of Enrichment: Sensory

by Dennis ODonnell on April 29, 2020

Happy Wednesday pet parents! As we revealed to you just days ago, we’re hosting the #PAW5EnrichedLifeChallenge starting on October 17th, and we want to make sure you’re as prepared as you can be for total success!

As the author of the book Beyond Squeaky Toys explains, “The goal of enrichment is to encourage your dog to interact with their environment and to develop and use their natural skills and breed-specific behaviors. Presenting pets with challenges, items to explore and opportunities to solve problems, keeps their lives interesting and enriched.”

And that’s what the Challenge is focused on doing! So, the first step in preparing for the PAW5 Enriched Life Challenge is understanding the many ways you can enrich your dog’s life. Technically, there are six defined categories of enrichment to choose from and your goal as a pet parent is to find ones that peak your pup’s interest and then rotate the activities or toys to keep them consistently new and challenging.

The six categories include Sensory, Feeding, Toys/Puzzles, Environmental, Social and Training. So, let’s start with Sensory.

Sensory Enrichment includes anything and everything that stimulates your dog’s senses; sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Think of them playing in the grass, rolling in the dirt, and splashing in water; ultimately, tapping into some of their more basic instincts as dogs.

Swimming pools filled with dirt or leaves for digging, water for splashing and balls for playing, can give your dog a variety of sensory experiences as the seasons pass. This concept also gives you a way to focus your dog’s energy if they are prone to digging in your yard.

Nose work can be accomplished by hiding their treats around the home and having them sniff them out. The nose of a dog has 300 million olfactory receptors allowing it to smell 10,000 – 100,000 times better than us mere mortals. So be sure you definitely tap into this one — sniffing things out is good fun for your pup!

Using food puzzles is also a great way to engage their sense of smell! There are a number of DIY food puzzles you can make at home; some as simple as using a paper towel tube and some cloth, while others may require a little more work. No matter what, simple puzzles like this will encourage brain work and keep your pup interested and engaged.

You can also support this category of enrichment through mediums like TV programming and music – yes, dogs have TV they can watch and music they enjoy listening to!

And be sure to stay tuned, next time we’ll take a look at the second level of enrichment, which has to do with feeding time and how you can make it fun and challenging for your pup!


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