Thinking inside the box, Animal Friends created an Enriched Environment Box, which requires dogs to use all of their senses. Simple and quick to put together, the enriched environment can be created in a living room, a yard or at the shelter in any space available. “Permitting dogs to explore and use their senses in this way provides much-needed stimulation for stressed shelter dogs,” says Suzanne Denk, Enrichment Specialist at Animal Friends, who shared this great idea with us.
"Exposure to new and novel objects builds confidence, relieves stress and, most importantly, sniffing is just plain fun!”
Now You Try It:
Suzanne’s tips for making an Enriched Environment Box:
Gather odd items for the box, such as an umbrella, a dirty towel, an old shoe, a bath scrunchie, empty water bottle, an egg carton, a skateboard, a stuffed toy, a badminton birdie, a toy that makes noise when it moves, empty yogurt cups…anything!
Add new items routinely to keep the box interesting and provide more challenges.
Place the unusual objects around the space.
Scatter treats throughout the area and under the items.
Each session in the enriched environment needs to only last about 10 minutes, when another shelter dog can be then chosen to explore the same environment.
Adds Suzanne, “Let the dog choose where to go. There should be no leading the dog or forcing him to approach items that he may find to be scary—let him be free to explore as he feels comfortable. Exposure to new and novel objects builds confidence, relieves stress and, most importantly, sniffing is just plain fun!"