Locally-Owned in Oakdale and St. Paul, Minnesota

Enrichment Activities for Dogs

A dog sitting up with paws on owner's knees.

In January of 2024, Chris and Heather with Central Bark Oakdale joined us on Facebook Live to discuss indoor enrichment activities for dogs. Central Bark Oakdale is a facility that provides doggie daycare, boarding, training, and grooming for dogs. 

You can watch the video for demos of each activity with Heather, who is a dog trainer certified by CATCH Training Academy, and her dog, Addie. You can also read a summary of the types of enrichment activities below. 

On bad weather or busy days when a walk isn’t practical, it behooves every dog parent to know some simple indoor activities to keep their dog engaged and entertained! After all, most dogs are bred to perform very specific jobs, so mental stimulation prevents a bored, “unemployed” dog from resorting to mischief like chewing or barking! So, let’s dive into three categories of easy engagement activities that will encourage your dog to work their brain! 

Dog sniffing a food puzzle toy.

1. Food Activities 

Incorporate your dog’s feeding time into an activity session! Beware, however, of adding extra calories to their diet. Instead, to prevent obesity and abide by any dietary restrictions, utilize your dog’s regular meal contents, broken up into tasks. These food activities will require your dog to slow down and use their nose!  

Examples:  

  • Snuffle mat
  • Puzzle feeder (Tip – select a food puzzle with a mental challenge that your dog will grow into! If it’s too easy, it won’t stimulate them.)
  • Lickimat (Use yogurt, peanut butter, or better yet, your pet’s kibble mixed with water and blended into a paste.)
  • KONG Wobblers
  • Orbee Snoops
  • Scent games (hide kibble in your hand and make your dog pick a hand to find it)
  • Shell game with plastic cups 

A dog running down a staircase.

2. Prey Games 

These types of activities are great for dogs with high prey drives like huskies and terriers, and provide an outlet that’s healthier than chasing cars, squirrels, cats, or birds!  

Examples: 

  • Use a dog-specific “flirt pole” toy for your dog to chase. Be sure to give your dog an opportunity to catch it! It’s no fun for them if they never succeed.
  • Play hide and seek with your dog! Simply tell your dog to sit and stay while you hide behind a door, then tell your dog to come. Then your dog will run for you!

A dog running through an agility tunnel.

3. Agility 

Any exercise or activity that gets your dog moving will help tire your dog. Whether you have actual agility equipment or use objects like a dining chair lying on its side, stepping and jumping over objects will get your pet’s muscles working! 

Remember, agility activities should be tweaked to accommodate any physical limitations your dog may have. Adjust how long agility play lasts or allow them to step or walk over low objects (like a cushion) instead of leaping over chairs. 

A woman training her dog to "high-five" at-home in her living room.

Pay attention to what your dog enjoys and how they prefer to occupy themselves. In addition to those activities, training is also a great source of mental stimulation and reinforces the bond between you and your pet. We’re confident that among these three types of activities and training, you’ll be able to find some great ways to keep your pet stimulated every day! 

If you can’t give your dog daily stimulation and socialization, consider signing your dog up for doggie daycare! Central Bark Oakdale is a great option that provides positive reinforcement and enrichment. All dogs complete a behavior assessment and require vaccinations before being sorted into a group of similar size and play style. If you’re interested in learning more, reach out to Central Bark Oakdale for more information! 

More Reading:  

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota, Fast Track Triage, color-coded triage system, pet emergency, Twin Cities emergency vet, Minnesota emergency vet, Saint Paul emergency vet, Oakdale emergency vet

Leave a Reply

HAVE A NON-MEDICAL QUESTION? FILL OUT THE FORM BELOW.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Oakdale St. Paul Text Us