General Health

Posted on: September 15, 2015

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Canine Enrichment: A Smart Choice

Dogs are smart. And despite looking like a canine couch potato lounging in a favorite sunny spot most of the afternoon, there’s more to your Beethoven, Einstein, Marie, or Newton than just a clever namesake. Like us, our dogs want to learn, be challenged, have fun, and experience the joys of a job well done.IMG_20150904_122420843 (360x640)

Historically, dogs were bred to perform specific duties like assisting farmers, ranchers, sportsmen, and law enforcement officers. The abilities to think, problem solve and actively work were assets to their owners. Changes in lifestyle mean dogs today are more important to us for companionship rather than labor, and dogs no longer have to rely on their mental and physical abilities for basic survival. Dogs are naturally social and energetic so being sedentary can lead to boredom, bad behavior and possible health problems associated with obesity.

Whether it’s called daycare, camp or school, a canine program with enrichment activities targets the social, emotional and physical wellness of your dog. Dogs that receive high levels of exercise and physical and mental stimulation are less likely to engage in destructive or bad behaviors due to boredom. Energy that is directed toward positive, healthy experiences and productive training and playtime leads to better behavior in public and at home.

Participation in a canine enrichment program is a smart choice for your dog! Enrichment toys and activities are designed to challenge dogs to think, problem solve and stay active through brain games, challenging sensory work, and structured athletics and play. In a doggie daycare setting, the enrichment activities offer personal attention and help in reinforcing social manners and training. Besides free play, which is important too, structured games allow the dog to use instinct, skill and physical abilities during purposeful play.

Incorporating brain games and exercises at home provides the dog with a sense of accomplishment when the owner gives praise, trust and comfort in being an important member of the family.IMG_20150903_120908

Enrichment toys and activities include:

  • Solving food puzzles. Toys like KONG®, the Tricky Treat™ Ball, or the Twist ‘n Treat™ encourage problem-solving skills and patience.
  • Hunting for dinner includes dividing up a serving of dry kibble and hiding small amounts around the house. This is a great activity to promote a healthy weight and slow down a fast eater.
  • Learning scent games as part of advanced training for fun or involvement in search and rescue groups.
  • Providing appropriate chew toys deflect attention away from furniture or your favorite pair of shoes if your dog is bored or experiences anxiety.
  • Working with a game of fetch or hide-n-seek reinforces training skills and promotes moderate exercise.
  • Playing chase. What dog doesn’t love running and being silly?
  • Attending a daycare or a dog park. Socialization and free play is time well-spent with friends!
  • Participation in advanced training, agility or lure coursing, and competitive sports like disc dog (Frisbee) or flyball keeps the mind and body active.

As a new school year begins, the Holiday House Pet Resort & Training Center Dog Daycare program will be introducing elements of canine enrichment activities throughout September. The goal is to develop a more comprehensive program offering individualized enrichment and training options in addition to basic activities and socialization.

“We have a terrific group of dogs in our program including many breeds that could benefit from the type of games and activities that match their energy level and desire to be mentally and physically challenged. Our professional trainers and daycare team are excited to be designing a unique program to better meet the needs of our clients and students,” said Dr. Laura Weis, owner of Holiday House Pet Resort and Doylestown Veterinary Hospital.

If you are interested in more information about canine enrichment programs and activities or professional dog training, the trainers with Holiday House Pet Resort & Training Center (located on the same property as Doylestown Veterinary Hospital in Doylestown, PA) are happy to speak with you. Call 215-345-6960 to speak with a trainer to learn more about our programs and services.