Dog Enrichment Toys and How to Use Them!
Do you have a busy dog who tends to destroy toys quicker than you can buy them? Dog enrichment toys could be a great option for you. Finding the right enrichment toys and knowing how to use them can save you a ton of money and greatly enrich your dogs life.
What is Dog Enrichment?
First, let's talk about dog enrichment: what is it and why do I need it? Dog enrichment is about finding ways to stimulate your dogs senses and help teach them necessary skills. By enriching your dog's environment, you can prevent boredom and help them overcome behavioral problems like anxiety. Dogs need a variety of activities to keep them healthy and happy, just like you do.
Benefits of Dog Enrichment Toys
The benefits of dog enrichment can be really great for you and dog. Simply adding some enrichment to your dogs daily routine can improve their quality of life. Below is a list of benefits that dog enrichment toys may provide.
- Calm your dog through licking and reduce dog anxiety (Licking releases endorphins and serotonin, which can regulate anxiety and help your dog feel calm and less anxious).
- Entertain your pet throughout the day.
- Mentally stimulate your dog and feed their natural instinct to hunt and forage for their food.
- Help reduce boredom.
- Reduce problem behaviors such as destructive chewing and separation anxiety.
- Build problem solving skills with your dog.
- Extend the life of a dog toy and prevent it from being destroyed.
- Catch up on some work or get some well deserved rest while your puppy works through their enrichment toy.
What Are The Best Dog Enrichment Toys?
Are you looking for the best enrichment toys to keep your dog busy? Look no further! These toys are not only great for enrichment, but are also tough and durable. Check out our favorite dog enrichment toys to keep your dog busy and mentally challenged.
|SodaPup Dog Lick Mats|
|DuraPaw Snuffle Ball and Snuffle Mat Enrichment Toys|
How to Use Different Types of Enrichment Dog Toys
Enrichment toys come in many shapes and sizes, and they can be used in a variety of ways. By understanding how to use these different toys, you can make your dog's life more enjoyable and save money during the process.
Type of Dog Enrichment Toy
How to use them
|Dog Lick Mats||Apply your dogs favorite spread into the grooves on the surface of the lick mat. The more sticky the ingredient, the longer it takes for your dog to lick it clean. It can be frozen as well to add an additional challenge to this great enrichment tool.|
|Rubber Treat Dispensers||Rubber treat dispensers are a great enrichment tool for your dog. The best way to use them is to fill them with your dog's kibble and treats. Working for their food will be a rewarding experience for your dog. It is best to rotate your dog toys every 2 weeks or so to prevent boredom.|
|Nylon Enrichment Toys||Nylon toys are super tough chew toys that can also make for great enrichment tools. A nylon toy usually has a flat shape and grooves or divots that can be used to apply spreads.|
|Snuffle Balls / Snuffle Mats||Snuffle balls and snuffle mats are the best toys for hiding the most kibble and treats. A snuffle toy is usually made of close to 100 pieces of polar fleece fabric that fold over each other, creating tons of secret hiding places for your dog to discover.|
|Dog Puzzle Toys||Dog puzzle toys can help train your dog to solve complicated puzzles while participating in interactive sniffing games. Hide treats throughout the different secret hiding places in the puzzle toy and set it down for your dog to sniff out. Ensure to remove the puzzle toy from play once all of the treats have been discovered.|
How Will Dog Enrichment Toys Help Me Save Money?
Dog toys can be expensive and the best way to protect your wallet is to know how to get the most out of them! There are some toys that are more intended for hiding treats than for chewing. Utilizing a toy for its proper use and rotating your dog toys every 2 weeks will help them last longer.
DIY Homemade Dog Enrichment Toys
A DIY enrichment toy for your dog is another great way to save money. Below are some easy DIY enrichment toy ideas that you can do at home with basic supplies.
- Hide treats beneath rows of tennis balls in a muffin tray.
- Wrap kibbles in a towel and fold the flaps over.
- Hide treats and kibbles throughout your dogs crate and under bedding.
- Cut a tennis ball open half way and fill with kibble.
Activities like these can really stimulate your dog's senses and keep them mentally active. If you use homemade DIY enrichment toys with your dog, ensure they are being used safely. Creating homemade DIY toys can be risky as it allows for easy access points for your dog to rip the toy apart easier and potentially swallow something hazardous.
Pro Tips For Using Enrichment Toys
- Try not to overwhelm your pup with over-challenging enrichment toys. Start off with an easy toy first and slowly work your way up to more challenging options.
- Help your dog work through any challenges they are having. Don't be afraid to help guide them if they get frustrated.
- Keep the experience as positive as possible. This goes back to the first pro tip about starting with less challenging enrichment toys in the beginning. The goal is to give your dog a fun and enriching experience.
- Prepare your dog enrichment toys in advance. It is always a good idea to stock some prepped toys in the freezer so you are always ready to go! Freezing your enrichment toys will also add an extra challenge for your dog and works great for teething puppies.
- Make sure you are aware of your dog's feeding guide and plan ahead for the extra snacks during enrichment time in order to avoid overfeeding.
Using Enrichment Toys For Feeding Time
It's time to retire your regular dish bowl! Rather than using a dish bowl, use a slow feeder bowl or an enrichment toy to feed your dog. Preventing your dog from eating too fast can be really beneficial for their digestive system. Dogs on canned pet food or raw diets can use lick mats, while dogs on kibble diets can use snuffle balls or mats.
Can I Wash My Dogs Enrichment Toys?
Lets face it, when you think about stuffing a dog toy full of sticky peanut butter, your first thought is probably how messy it will be. Thankfully, most enrichment toys can be cleaned quite easily using mild soap and water or even the top rack of your dishwasher! You can also use something like a muffin tray to hold a smaller enrichment toy upright and keep it from making a mess on the ground.
Pro tip: Freeze your dog enrichment toys! Freezing the toy will make the sticky and wet ingredients more solid and help prevent messy clean ups! It will also add an additional challenge and take longer for your dog to lick clean.
How to clean dog lick mats: rinse in warm water with mild soap or place in the dishwasher on the top rack.
How to clean snuffle mats: Shake them our regularly. Spot clean any problem areas with a rag and mild soap. For a more in-depth clean, you can wash most snuffle mats in the washing machine on a delicate rinse.
How to clean rubber enrichments toys: Rinse in the sink with warm water and mild soap or place in the dishwasher on the top rack. Inspect the inside for any leftover remnants in case the dishwasher wasn't able to properly clean the inside.
How to clean nylon enrichment toys: A quick rinse will usually do the trick. You can also use the top rack of your dishwasher for a more thorough cleaning.
Can a Dog Enrichment Toy be Too Big or Too Small?
It is generally good practice to try and buy appropriately sized toys for your dog. However, sometimes with enrichment toys such as a snuffle ball or snuffle mat, bigger can be better! Be aware that smaller rubber feeders can sometimes be a choking hazard for bigger dogs, and this is when the size of toy can become important.
Let's Recap: Dog Enrichment Toys and How to Use Them!
We hope that some of this information has stuck and helped you along your enriching journey! Dog enrichment toys can provide many benefits and save you money when used correctly. Just like you, your dog requires mental stimulation to maintain a happy life!