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The Enrichment Effect on Puppies

by Dennis ODonnell on April 29, 2020

In the new film, “Puppy Culture,” director Jane Killion delves into the world of puppy rearing and early socialization.

Puppies raised in a stimulating environment–like access to different sights, sounds, and smells; toys to play with; physical challenges–experience physiological changes due to that enrichment. They have larger brains with more neural connections and healthier brain cells, for instance.

The film uses the phrase “the Enrichment Effect” to describe the combination of three key elements: stimulating living area, exercise, and problem solving and learning.

A stimulating living area sounds obvious. But, in addition to toys, the living area should include different types of flooring to experience a range of touch, novel sights and sounds, and lots of positive social interactions.

Exercise should include indoor and outdoor activities with a range of motion, like climbing jungle gyms–all done safely and supervised.

Problem solving and learning is all about getting the brain working. Training challenges with rewards is the key here.

Ultimately, though, the trick is in putting the three elements together. While each one has shown to be beneficial on its own, the magic happens when they come together.

Why does this matter? As the director wrote on the film’s website: “The good news is that the ultimate benefit of the Enrichment Effect is increased emotional stability of the puppies.  Better recovery from fear, less fear-based aggression, calmer, and quicker to learn basic ‘commands.’  So the kind of intelligence that enrichment cultivates is compatible with an ‘easy to live with’ kind of dog.”

All good things that make life with dogs even better!

Learn more from Puppy Culture.

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