We all know it’s important to give your Staffy regular exercise. However what about going a little further and enriching their other senses? In this article we take a look at dog enrichment and exploring ways we can enrich dogs lives socially, physically, sensory, cognitively plus more.
What Is Dog Enrichment?
Dog enrichment can come in many forms, such as providing ways for a dog to use their senses, providing mental work outs, activities to keep them busy and fun ways for them to feed or eat their favourite treats. There are many ways you can provide dog enrichment and it really doesn’t need to take long. Below are just a few suggestions where you can but stay tuned as we intend to post quite a few articles on dog enrichment.
Even if your Staffy is getting their 2 walks a day, they sometimes just need that little extra. It could be taking them to the shops with you so they can interact with strangers and take in all the smells and sights. Or even taking them to the pub for a drink. Dogs, just like humans, get bored with the same routine so it’s important to add a little enrichment now and then. There are fun and interesting ways for them to eat their dinner or have a treat. New smells, new textures to explore. By adding a new dimension to their senses big or small will have a positive impact on them.
6 Types Of Enrichment For Staffies
1. Social Enrichment
This is where you can give your Staffy the opportunity to spend some time and engage with other pets and humans. Especially with Staffies, as we all know how much they love us humans, perhaps the most of all the dog breeds.
Some great examples of this could be:
Going shopping – Many shops these days allow you to bring your dog in with you. We always advise not to leave your dog tied up outside, however if you know you can take them in or have someone with you who can wait outside the shops that don’t let them in. With all those people you past, there will be a high chance of some interaction for your Staffy with other humans.
Take your dog to the office – What could be better than having your best friend come to work with you! If your office allows you to bring your dog into work with you. then try it out. It might seems like a bit of nightmare, but do give it go. Your Staffy will most likely adapt and learn the boundaries very quickly.
Trip to the beach – The beach is somewhere where they can really let go and run for miles. There are often other dogs there so a good way for them to interact and have fun run around with them. Our Staffies love the beach more than anywhere else!
Other things you can do to to enrich them socially are having drop in visits from pet sitters. these are short visits where the pet sitter may take them out for a wee, give them a play and generally give them a fuss. Daycare is another option, even if it is once a week, it will give them something to look forward to and would mean that for that time they won’t be bored on their own at home.
2. Cognitive Enrichment
Challenge them and provide opportunities for thinking and problem solving. Some ideas for this include:
Puzzle toys. These are sometime easy to forget about however in our view should be a main feature in any doggy toy basket! Great for dogs that tend to get bored or need stimulation between meals. You can also feed them kibble or treats via the puzzle toy that works very well
K9 nose work. This is where you teach and train your dog to find and alert to specific odors. Any dog can participate in K9 nose work and it helps promote a calm and focused dog. It also helps create and strengthen your bond between you and your Staff.
Hide and seek – Where you get your Staffy to stay and you quickly go and hide before calling them to you. It’s great fun, not bad exercise and also does wonders for their recall!
The Hide A Squirrel Plush Dog is a popular choice for plush puzzle games.
3. Physical Enrichment
Improve the home environment by providing challenges both physical in nature and also adding complexities, thus stimulating them mentally.
Agility apparatus – We have all seen the amazing dogs excelling on the agility course on TV or at Crufts. Don’t be put off by the level of expertise, they don’t need to be a pro at agility courses to benefit from a simple home agility course. Check out some of the great agility stuff for dogs on Amazon, which will have your Staffy zooming around having great fun in no time!
A portable sand pit is a really simple and hassle free way of providing some great fun, exercise and sensory enrichment.
4. Sensory Enrichment
Dog’s senses are a lot more fine tuned than ours and so enriching their super senses can be a fantastic way to offer stimulation and to allow your Staffy to be a Staffy.
Sometimes dogs don’t get the opportunity to uses all their senses all that much so here are a few great ways to allow them to.
Snuffle mats – These things are great! Throw some kibble or treats in and put your dogs nose and brain to work. A good mental and smell work out for your Staffy.
Herbs – We all know that a dogs nose is incredibly complex and a lot more powerful than ours. Certain herbs have proven to produce positive reactions in dogs, often making them feel calmer. They also allow them to explore and can intrigue their curiosity. A good way of going about this is to set up a little herb garden on one corner of your garden with some dog friendly herbs.
Bubbles – Not only do dogs like bubbles, you can now get Bacon flavoured bubbles! Sounds gross, but dogs love it and it gets quite a few of their senses going.
5. Food and enrichment
Enrichment and feeding work brilliantly together. Many dogs are very food driven and so providing them with a more challenging way to eat or a mental work out whilst eating works really well. It can also be used to stave off boredom, slow down their eating pace and more.
Food scattering – If you feed your dog kibble you can leave some aside and then go outside and scatter it on some grass. Each kibble will fall in between grass blades providing a nice little challenge for them to pick each one up.
Puzzle feeders – are very popular. They provide a nice mental work out and work really well at slowing down fast eaters.
Stuffed Kongs are the easiest and really efficient way of providing mental stimulation and entertainment for your Staffy. Stuff it full of dog safe foods such as peanut butter, sodium free broth and chuck it on the freezer. Once frozen it will keep them busy for a good 30 minutes. The Kong brand are fantastic, well made and will last for ages.
Fresh bones – It might sound like an obvious one but a fresh raw bone can be wonderfully enriching for your Staffy providing a fresh, healthy way of keeping them busy, cleans their teeth and is full of goodness, especially all that bone marrow!
Muffin tin game – A nice DIY enrichment game here. Put some food or treats in a muffin tin and put tennis balls in each hole making it a nice little work out for them to get the food out from under the tennis balls. This works really well if they’re a fast eater and you want to slow their scoffing down.
6. Interactive Toys
Trixie Dog Activity Flip Board – A great work out that has different puzzles to keep them stimulated and to retain their attention. If they start getting bored you could always try using more high end treats.
Food balls – These dispenses treats when the ball s are moving. So your Staffy will have to work out how to get the treats out! Great fun, keeps them busy and is a great mental work out.
Interactive treat dispensers – Provide IQ and brain training whilst feeding! This is ideal for those that want to slow down the pace at which your Staffy is eating. If they are scoffing down their food way too quickly then this amazing piece of kit may be just the thing for you. Or if its just a mental work that you are after then the PAWZ Road Pet 2 In 1 Dog Treat Dispensing Toy will certainly work those brain cells and keep them nice and busy.