The Importance of Enrichment for Dogs
To enrich is to add greater value or significance to something. Enrichment for dogs can be anything that provides mental or physical stimulation for them. Providing this enrichment is important because it can help a dog learn to focus, develop impulse control and overall confidence. It also reduces stress and boredom which can lead to unwanted behaviors (digging, barking, aggression, etc).
Enrichment isn't only important, it is CRUCIAL. Studies have shown that adult dogs living in an environment that is void of enrichment (aka boring!) suffer changes in
their brain structure, in essence, causing brain cells to shrink. This can happen in three weeks' time. The good news is providing an enriching environment for your dog can rebuild these cells within three weeks' time. What is not good news is that young animals who live in sterile environments actually lose these brain cells with no hope of recovery so enrichment is extremely crucial for dogs' well being.... puppies as well as adults.
Allowing your dog to experience new things-people, places, experiences, smells, etc. and allowing your dog to figure things out for themselves (and yes, that means sometimes making poor choices) helps your dog become a healthy, happy, stable companion. If this isn’t enough, providing enrichment for your dog can help build a stronger bond with you and will make your dog easier to train. I also love that if done properly, enrichment allows dogs to be themselves and you can appreciate them for who they are.
If you let your dog sniff the trail on your next hike or ask your dog to find a treat that you cleverly hid somewhere in your backyard you are providing enrichment. See? It’s easy.
What Dogs Want exists to provide enrichment services for dogs to help them become happier, healthier and more confident. We do this by creating fun games and activities that allow dogs to make choices, appeal to their innate behaviors (digging, hunting, foraging), and teach important skills such as impulse control, conflict resolution and body awareness. We choose activities that easy, effective, and fun to do.
We offer several programs and services to benefit your pup, from day programs at our Enrichment Center located in Phoenix, Arizona to our Game-of-the-Month Club which provide instruction for new brain games and activities each month that will keep your dog mentally and physically sharp. We also work with daycare providers and local rescue groups to help develop ways to provide enrichment for dogs in their unique settings.
For more information please visit us: www.whatdogswant.org. You can see some of our students having fun (and get some great ideas of things to try at home!) by visiting us on Instagram @whatdogswant or check out our Facebook page @itswhatdogswant.
Go have fun with your dog!