We discuss mental stimulation, sometimes referred to as canine enrichment, a lot in our workshops and have been blogging and posting on social media about it frequently too.
We have discussed ways to make toys from recycled materials – check out the great entertainment station Jo CF made for her dog Paddy who has been recovering from an operation and been on strict rest!
However, enrichment doesn’t need to involve food and toys. A really simple way to provide some mental stimulation for your dog is to go for a walk somewhere new – or even somewhere familiar, but allow your dog lots of opportunity to really sniff and experience the environment around them. Dogs need two walks a day, but remember this is not just for exercise and going to the toilet; it's to let dogs really investigate their environment and catch up the latest 'wee mails' on lampposts and fences too!
Jo Goodman, ECO for East Anglia, took one different turn on Arthur’s regular walk recently and found a footpath along the edge of this wheat field. (Please follow signs to ensure you are not trespassing and keep dogs on lead where instructed when exploring.) Greyhounds have a reputation for being rather lazy and preferring short walks (yes, really – they are fast, but don’t have much stamina and tire easily!) but a slow, dawdly, sniffy walk, even if you don’t go for miles and miles, can be just as mentally tiring for a dog as a good play session can be physically tiring. Consider how tired you feel after your lessons in school, even though you’ve mainly been sitting in a chair – because the dog is learning so much about the world around them through their sniffing, they get tired out too!
Arthur really enjoyed watching the wheat move in the wind, and they even discovered deer tracks which he found very interesting to sniff. It was also very refreshing for Jo to find somewhere beautiful and new so close to home!
If you are interested in enrichment for your dog, here are some brilliant ideas from our friends at Evesham Rehoming Centre.
And for more on the theory about why it is so important and lots more ideas please see our factsheet.