Dogs just wanna have fun
Time outside the kennel, with and without human companions, offers some of the best opportunities for canine enrichment:
All dogs benefit from play time, but it is especially valuable for high-energy dogs, such as working and bully breeds, who are particularly challenged by confinement in a kennel.Mackenzie’s Animal Sanctuary provides a daily hour-long session in its exercise yard, weather permitting, for all dogs. Dog-aggressive dogs have the yard to themselves, while social dogs go out together in “play groups.” In addition, as time permits, each dog gets off-leash time with a human companion in the exercise yard. For enrichment involving human interaction, see Hanging with the Humans.
Once a week, Mackenzie’s dogs spend 30-60 minutes exploring a two-acre enrichment yard. This yard has a small pond, a climbing mountain, steps, and barrels with the bottoms cut out for dogs to crawl through.
Staff or trained volunteers to escort the dogs to the exercise yard and keep an eye on their activities.
What to Do
Because this is unstructured play time, the bulk of the work for you involves setting up the spaces and creating a schedule for dogs to use them. You want to ensure that all dogs have:
If your facility has limited outdoor space (not everybody has a two-acre back yard), you can experiment with varying the enrichment opportunities in the space you do have:
And some dogs will create their own fun. Here’s a video of a lively Mackenzie’s resident using his free time to engage in bug hunting:
As with other activities, note things the dogs interact with and those they ignore. This enables you to fine-tune the yard setup so that it is as engaging as possible.
Photo and video courtesy of Mackenzie’s Animal Sanctuary