Home > Cupcake, Daisy, Fun Stuff, Jasper, Pet Ponderings > What sort of enrichment activities do you do with your dog?

What sort of enrichment activities do you do with your dog?


I'm going in #Daisy

Daisy goes swimming

My dogs are spoiled. I fully acknowledge that fact.

They get daily hour-long walks (unless it is too cold outside). They have lots of friends and get to play with them often. They have a large yard and can run and play and stretch their legs. They are allowed on the furniture and have plush beds. They get tasty treats (like cheese and chicken) and bully sticks and lots of love and attention. They have a good life. And, I am proud of that.

Hello turtle! #nature #sheltie #turtle

Cupcake meets a new friend

I like knowing that they have good lives and that it is fun and exciting and different every day.

It wasn’t always like this. Yes, I took my other dogs for walks, but I never did all the sort of enrichment activities with them like I do with my three now.

I think Daisy is the one who changed it all for me.

When Daisy first came to live with me, she was so frightened that I worried whether she would ever be able to be a “normal” dog. Seeing her like this made me want to give her the best life possible.  I made her a promise that I would do everything in my power to make her happy.  Not only that, but I would give her the chance to do all the things other “normal” dogs did, and more.  My goal was to give her the kind of  life any dog would be envious of (if dogs can feel envy). That promise was the beginning of a great journey together.

Finding activities that would enrich Daisy’s life became my mission. Anything that would help her grow her mind and her confidence was part of the deal, this included praising her whenever she took a step outside her comfort zone.

So Daisy got bones to chew, ice cream to eat, and toys to play with. I let her dig holes in the yard so she could experience the pleasure of digging (luckily, she only dug under the lilac bushes!). She learned how to use her nose to find the treats I threw out in the yard for her, and she went on walks all over the city and experienced the excitement of exploring new places. She walked into water for the very first time and then learned how to swim.

In other words, she learned to “live” life and not to fear so much. Seeing her joy and happiness gave me great joy and so we sought out more things to do that would be fun and new and exciting.

When Jasper and Cupcake joined our little family, I continued to look for enrichment activities that we could all do together.

Photobomb. Courtesy of Jasper.

Jasper is exploring new places

They now have several dog games that challenge their brains and they get to play them on a regular basis. In the summer time, we go to the lake or walk along the Mississippi River or explore a new park. When the snow melts, I hide treats in the yard and laugh as I watch them follow their noses to all the little treasures. Daisy has accompanied me on many dog walking appointments and even stayed with me on one pet sitting date. Cupcake and Jasper have participated in several Sheltie playdates, and Jasper and Daisy have gone to nose work classes. Jasper has even tried sheep herding.

Providing my dogs with enrichment activities has given me great pleasure and it continues to do so. It’s a joy to see them smile as they work and play and explore.

So now I am curious, do you have enrichment activities you do with your own dog(s)? What are they? What things do you do with your dog that gives you both a great sense of joy? I  would love to hear about them.

In  the meantime, here is a video that highlights an enrichment activity that is easy and fun to do. this is one both you nd your kids can do with your dog. Don’t have a dog that can “stay” like this one? No worries. My dogs don’t have a great “stay” either (although they should), so I use a baby gate to keep them in one location while I hide their treats around the house or the yard. It’s so much fun seeing them run from place to place trying to find them. 

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  1. February 4, 2015 at 10:26 PM

    We play find the treat under the cups and have a dog brick puzzle that is often begged for if in dog view. And we do the agility course which is a fun run about. City dogs must have planned enjoyment time! 🙂

    • Mel
      February 4, 2015 at 10:56 PM

      Wow! I think my dogs are jealous now. The agility course sounds fun. I should try the cup game. Good idea!
      Planned enjoyment time. I like that. So accurate too. 🙂

  2. February 4, 2015 at 10:47 PM

    Yep, your dogs have quite a life — and it’s how all dogs should live, really. CindyLu says she wants to come live with you. hehe That video is so cool, what a dog!!

    • Mel
      February 4, 2015 at 10:56 PM

      LOL! C’mon over CindyLu, but bring your mom too. 🙂

  3. February 5, 2015 at 5:17 AM

    find my toy they hide it I find it. Actually pretty easy for me

    • Mel
      February 5, 2015 at 6:52 AM

      You are too smart Fredrieka. It sounds like a fun game though. 🙂

  4. February 5, 2015 at 5:50 AM

    We play hide and seek. I put them in a sit stay, go hide and holler for them to “Find me!” Being bassets, they tire of this one after two or three times but they love using their noses.

    • Mel
      February 5, 2015 at 6:52 AM

      That is awesome! I love that idea. I bet they do love using their noses. Kudos to you. What fun!

  5. February 5, 2015 at 6:25 AM

    Sometimes Mom feels bad because as her life with dogs continues, she learns so much more and wishes she had done more in the earlier years. Walking, running, traveling and exploring have always been a part of her dogs lives. We get our long walks, runs, trips to the dog park, Bailie goes to daycare once a week, and now we get to do our nose work and tracking. So yes, we get enrichment activities. I can’t complain, Bailie is lucky she has started it all as a puppy, I had to wait a few years.

    • Mel
      February 5, 2015 at 6:51 AM

      I feel the same way your mom does Emma. If only I had known then what I know now. My early dogs would have benefitted so much from my knowledge now. You and Bailie definitely have an awesome life.

  6. Bonnie Parsons
    February 5, 2015 at 8:30 AM

    I have a similar story…My life changed when Marley, my Labradoodle rescue dog came into it. The first night she spent with me, she got as close to me as she could and trembled all night, she was so scared. Her fears then turned to barking at everyone she saw. She was especially afraid of anyone approaching her or putting their hand out. I had to educate people on how to approach her. I continue to work with Marley giving her diversified activities, and she is young ( just turned 4) and has a lot of energy! She loves chasing squirrels, swims in the pool every day, and runs around in my huge yard, I take her for 3 walks a day to explore and socialize with neighbors and other dogs. She lives with 2 other dogs and 3 cats and enjoys their company, but I will always be her human. She follows me everywhere in the house and sleeps on my bed. Now on her walks, she no longer barks. She no longer jumps my 6 foot fence; she holds her tail high when she walks and wags, she likes to play Frisbee and she has been dock diving. Next, I will take her to the beach and walk and swim with her. Now I laugh and play more. I am more active. I am more relaxed. I appreciate my surroundings more. I “wag more and bark less” Marley has changed my life.

    • Mel
      February 5, 2015 at 10:07 PM

      Marley is one lucky dog Bonnie. It sounds like she has much fun with you as you have with her. What a great life she has! 🙂

  7. February 5, 2015 at 8:35 AM

    Making life fun for dogs isn’t ‘spoiling’ in my books. But I think we all try to do the best we can for our dogs, providing interesting treats, fun with other dogs and belly rubs. The longer we own them (or they own us as is sometimes the case) we learn many ways about how to relate with to them and improve the relationship. With each dog, I’ve learned more about myself as well as about them. It’s been a great journey with each and every one! 🙂

    • Mel
      February 5, 2015 at 10:08 PM

      So well said! I completely agree. With every dog I learn something new and carry that knowledge on to the next dog. It is a great journey! 🙂

  8. February 5, 2015 at 2:48 PM

    Reblogged this on ZeroBites Dog Training.

  9. February 5, 2015 at 5:10 PM

    We do dog agility. My guys love it. Even when I can no longer compete, I’ll train my dogs in agility; it is so good for them mentally and physically.

    • Mel
      February 5, 2015 at 10:09 PM

      That is so awesome Helen. I have thought about doing that too. My problem is feeling guilty leaving my two older girls behind or left out. Jasper trie several agility items at the last few play dates and loved them. I know he would love agility. Your dogs are very lucky. 🙂

  10. February 5, 2015 at 7:40 PM

    My absolute favorite thing to do is to take Haley for an off-leash hike somewhere new. It’s Haley’s absolute favorite thing to do too! Allowing her to have that freedom to just be an exploring dog makes for a perfect day! 🙂

    • Mel
      February 5, 2015 at 10:11 PM

      I can SO relate to this. My dogs love it too. They only go off leash at the dog park, but our dog park is 16 acres and there are woods and fields for them to explore. We also go to parks where they are on leash. They love that too.

  11. February 5, 2015 at 7:52 PM

    I’m with Elaine about off-leash walks. We do most of the things you do plus try to give Honey some off-leash walking time every day. As soon as I unsnap her leash, she does a little joyful dance. The crazy thing is she barely moves any farther from me than she would on leash. But that little bit of freedom is exhilarating to her.

    Of course, It probably helps that all off-leash time includes practicing her recall for treats and games.

    • Mel
      February 5, 2015 at 10:12 PM

      LOL! That is totally what Daisy does off leash. She prefers to stay close. I love that Honey dances in excitement. 🙂
      All that practice has said off!!! What a lucky girl!

  12. February 7, 2015 at 4:23 AM

    Swimming and fishing (we just moved coast) and I swim while the humans fish – maybe one of them will actually catch a fish one of these days.

  13. February 9, 2015 at 11:44 AM

    One of my previous dog walking clients and I used to play a lot of ‘go find it’ and search games both in and out of the house. He was very obedient and I would ask him to sit and wait whilst I hid his ball in the bushes, I’d hide it once then pretend to hide it twice more, then step back and say ‘go find it.’ He got wise to my tricks though and one time I turned around and he was right up behind me and had been watching my every move, he knew exactly where the ball was! Made me laugh!
    Plus I’ve just written about a 3 in 1 dog puzzle toy over on my blog! 🙂

    • Mel
      February 9, 2015 at 9:46 PM

      Your story made me laugh Katie. To think he knew where they were all along! I love those smart dogs.
      I am very interested in your dog puzzle!

  1. July 6, 2015 at 3:09 PM

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