Here are three easy activities for you to create in your back yard. It will take little effort from your side to set up, and it will make a huge difference in your dog’s day. These activities are great for all dogs, of all ages and it will give them a different experience in the yard, where most dogs spend the majority of their time. Turn your back yard into a magical place for your dog filled with enrichment and wonder.
Digging is a natural behaviour for dogs. Many dogs like to dig themselves a little den to lie in. This little den just looks like a hole to us humans, and understandably, we can not appreciate the wonder of it as they do. We can’t stop dogs from digging, if we are not there all the time, watching them
- Create a digging spot for them, they can’t refuse and it’s a win-win situation for everyone.
- Convince your dog that the spot you’ve chosen is the best spot to dig, by hiding treats and a toy or two in the ground. If they find that spot rewarding enough, they will not go and dig elsewhere.
- Choose a shady spot, so that when it’s very hot, they can dig themselves a cooling hole. The cool ground underneath the top layer will offer them relief from the hot weather.
- Avoid using sand, the soil is the best option here.
Tracking is super easy and it’s just the best enrichment for all dogs, of all ages Nothing stimulates your dog more than getting to use his nose. While you create a track, keep your dog/s inside or away from the area. Only let one dog at a time sniff out the track.
This might take you a couple of minutes to set up, start by creating a very easy, short track for them to follow.
- Choose your starting point, the easiest way to create your track is to walk it backwards.
- Place a treat in each ‘footprint’ you leave. Start with a straight track, and as they get the hang of it, you can make it a bit more difficult.
- Once you have finished walking the track, place a couple of treats at the end, and walk back to the starting point, on the same track, without stepping on the treats.
- Now, let your dog out, take him to the start and watch him figure it out.
- Do not guide him towards the treats, he will enjoy it much more if he can do it by himself.
Laying out surfaces with different textures in your yard for your dog to walk over releases dopamine in their bodies. Most dogs will probably avoid some surfaces at first, which is not a problem at all. Allow them to walk on the ones they are comfortable with until they feel brave enough to try the other ones. Building their confidence one surface at a time.
Put your dog away while you prepare the surfaces:
- Surfaces do not have to be large, they can be .5m by .5 meter. Lay them out all over the yard and drop some treat morsels on them.
Make sure they are flat on the ground and can not tip over or wobble.
- Let your dog out to explore and step onto the surfaces on his own time and comfort level.
- Examples of surfaces: Tiles, wood, carpet, rubber mats, bubble wrap, plastic bag, newspaper, thick cardboard, pebbles, sand, grass, leaves, bathroom mat, you get the idea.
- Pick the items up after your dog has explored and collected his treats so that it does not become a novelty.
For more enrichment by way of food dispensing toys, click here.