What dog doesn’t revel in a good roll on the ground, especially in something stinky? Or perk up at the footsteps of their favorite person? Or detect the scent of squirrel at 30 yards?
Dogs derive great satisfaction from using all their finely-tuned senses to experience the world. Without enrichment, the shelter environment provides limited stimulation of these canine senses.
Simple additions and adjustments to the dogs’ environment can make this limited world much more interesting from the dogs’ point of view. Below are brief definitions and a few examples of the types of stimulation to include in your canine enrichment program.
To set up an enrichment program that provides these varied forms of stimulation, check out the details of the Mackenzie Animal Sanctuary’s canine enrichment program.
Enrichment designed to arouse or calm the animal through his or her sense of hearing.
Examples: Household sounds CDs played to acclimate kittens or puppies; birdsong CDs played to bored long-stay residents
Enrichment that requires an animal to learn and problem solve.
Examples: Extracting treats from food-dispensing devices, positive-reinforcement training
Enrichment that stimulates the animal's sense of smell.
Examples: Diluted extracts, blankets from cat cages placed in dog cages, following a scent trail
Enrichment that can be placed in the dog’s mouth, carried in the mouth, chewed, licked, etc.
Examples: Chew toys, kibble-dispensing devices, bones, rope toys, etc.
Enrichment that fulfills the social needs of the dog including interactions with humans and other dogs.
Examples: Playing with other dogs in play groups, walking, positive-reinforcement training, or in-kennel read and relax.
Enrichment that stimulates the animal's sense of touch.
Examples: Placing brushes in kennels for animals to rub against, being groomed or petted (if the dog choose to be touched in these ways)
Enrichment that stimulates the animal's sense of sight.
Examples: Placing TV in kennels, having cages near windows
Photo courtesy of Mackenzie’s Animal Sanctuary