9 Great Dog Enrichment Activities for Smart Pets

4 min read

9 Great Dog Enrichment Activities for Smart Pets - Animals Matter, Inc.

Having a smart dog is great! A smart dog can be taught a wide range of tricks, may be able to respond to more human words, and may be able to better understand exactly what is expected of them. This can make your life as a dog owner easier.

But smart dogs also require a great deal of mental stimulation and enrichment. Without dog enrichment, they may get into trouble as they seek out their own activities. Sometimes, smart dogs can become incredibly destructive as they try to find an outlet for that pent-up energy. Fortunately, as a dog owner, there are several things you can do to keep your dog engaged and provide the mental stimulation it needs, even when you're busy at work through most of the week.

Types of Enrichment

To ensure your dog gets the stimulation it needs, it's important to understand the six key types of enrichment.

  1. Physical enrichment helps get your dog active and moving. Many high-energy breeds need to engage in regular physical activity, from walks to games of fetch. This helps keep those energy levels down and encourages them to behave calmly.
  2. Mental stimulation or enrichment occurs when you provide your dog with a mental test or challenge. For example, some toys may encourage your dog to work through a puzzle. Alternatively, you might play hide and seek with your dog to help encourage him to use his mind.
  3. Feeding enrichment occurs when you use dog food, including kibble or dog treats, to help encourage your dog to engage in enriching activities.
  4. Toy enrichment involves playing with dog toys: tennis balls, dog enrichment toys, or problem-solving toys designed for dogs, for example.
  5. Sensory enrichment offers some sensory stimulation to your pup that will help keep him engaged and entertained.
  6. Social enrichment engages your dog socially. Examples include engaging with you and the family, playing with other dogs or pets, or getting out for a car ride and socializing.

Incorporating all types of dog enrichment into your dog's regular playtime and activity schedule can help calm your dog, keep him engaged, and stave off both boredom and bad behavior.

The Best Dog Enrichment Activities for Smart Dogs

If you're looking for dog enrichment, then variety is key! The smarter your dog, the more often you may need to change things up to get the results you're looking for.

1. Try hiding treats around the house.

You may choose to hide treats in places that your dog can find or scatter treats around the backyard. However, keep in mind that if you regularly use treats as an enrichment opportunity, you may need to ensure that you have hidden the treat box extremely well in a package that your dog cannot open. If you don’t, then it may become an enrichment activity of its own!

2. Fill a Kong with peanut butter.

Kong and other dog toys are designed to be played with as the dog eats. They can also provide a great deal of stimulation as your dog works to get the food out of the treat. Thanks to the reward from the peanut butter or other treat, your dog will remain engaged for longer.

3. Use a snuffle mat.

Snuffle mats make your dog work to figure out how to remove treats or kibble from the mat. By using a snuffle mat, you can keep your dog engaged in a way that requires relatively little attention or intervention on your part.

4. Take regular trips out with your dog.

Go to the park, the dog park, or the beach. If your dog is well-trained, you may want to take your dog with you when you visit stores that allow dogs, like Home Depot. Making sure you have plenty of doggy field trips can help keep your dog more social.

5. Play hide and seek.

Tell your dog to stay, then run off to hide and call them to find you. Let them search for you! These brain games are great for doggy enrichment and can help tire your dog out and provide plenty of time with you.

6. Get a pop-up tunnel for your dog to play in.

Choose a sturdy pop-up tunnel for canine enrichment or heavy kid play. You want one that will withstand the heavy play of your furry friend without breaking.

7. Add scents to your dog's toys or blankets to encourage sniffing.

Try out things like mint and cinnamon, which are safe for dogs. But make sure you do your research and know which scents your dog can safely sniff! Encourage plenty of nose work to improve your dog's overall sense of well-being and test their sense of smell. It can be fun for you, too!

8. Make a bury pit for your dog.

Give your dog a safe place to dig. You can either fill up a kiddy pool with sand and allow your dog to dig away in it or bury and hide toys of your own. This is a great DIY way to get your dog out and moving!

9. Try wrapping treats in a towel.

This is sort of a DIY "snuffle mat" that will force your dog to work for the treats as they figure out how to move the mat. You can also make your own easy dry food enrichment by using a muffin tin for treats or kibbles.

Playing enrichment games with your dog, introducing food puzzles, and turning mealtime into an opportunity for enrichment can all help keep your dog active, engaged, and more stimulated. By finding out what your dog loves and building on it, you can create more enrichment ideas on your own.

Are you looking for more ways to spoil your furry friend? We offer a wide selection of pet beds and other items that will help improve your dog's quality of life. Contact us today to learn more.


How do you entertain an intelligent dog?

Using the right dog toys, like Kongs, and playing games like hide and seek with kibble can help keep an intelligent dog entertained.

What are the six types of dog enrichment activities?

The six types of enrichment for dogs are social, physical, cognitive, feeding, toy, and sensory enrichment.

What is the best way to keep a dog busy?

Several strategies can help keep your dog busy, including cognitive enrichment activities like puzzle toys, sensory stimulation tools like feeding maps, and toys that can help encourage physical activity.

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