You've probably heard about "enrichment" or how enrichment activities are enormously beneficial for our dogs (and all animals under our care). However, it's much less known what canine enrichment actually means. Is it just interactive toys and dogs "working" for their food? It's actually so much more.

What Does Canine Enrichment Actually Mean?

It's all about living more like nature. Canine enrichment can be defined as "meeting all of an animal's needs as closely as possible to how they would be met in the wild," according to authors Allie Bender and Emily Strong in their book Canine Enrichment for the Real World: Making It a Part of Your Dog's Daily Life. The goal is to encourage our dogs to "engage in species-typical behaviors in healthy and appropriate ways."

Put simply, dogs have behaviors that are genetic and innate, and "enrichment" is allowing them to engage in and practice those behaviors. To do this, you first have to know who dogs are as a species and what their needs are.

Luckily, dogs have an extensive range of instinctive behaviors that you can look to when thinking about enriching activities for your dog: sniffing scent trails, foraging for food, digging a cool spot to lay, barking at squirrels, chewing, rolling around in smells, playing with pinecones and sticks, exploring, and sleeping. 

While these behaviors aren't appropriate everywhere (i.e. digging in your neighbor's yard) or all the time (rolling in dead worms right after a bath for instance), you want to offer frequent opportunities for you dog to act on a variety of their natural instincts.

Your goal should be to incorporate enrichment into your dog's daily routine. These natural dog behaviors encourage your dog's curiosity, build confidence, and make them happy.


Leave a comment

Nature Dogs

Subscribe to our blog