Daily News Columnist
Dear Miss Behavin’: Our family dog is reaching her teen years and it seems like her body is tiring out faster than her adventurous heart. She gets fatigued quickly on our outings, but then seems bored once we’re back home. What can we do to keep her happy mentally if she’s worn out physically?
Enrichment can come in many forms and as individuals, all dogs will have their preferences. Some love interacting with people, but aren’t as fond of other dogs. Others are shy around people but blossom and grow in confidence with a dog friend around. Lower energy dogs might not be interested in fast-paced games of fetch, but love cozying up to you on the couch under a blanket for some quality snuggle time or laying on their mat chewing a tasty bone. For dogs that are limited physically or tire easily, puzzle toys, scent enrichment and trick training are just a few of many options.
Puzzle toys allow your dog to “forage” for their food, whether it’s a bowl with a raised design to slow their eating, tossing a handful of their meal out into the yard or stuffing a sturdy rubber toy with kibble and sealing the opening with peanut butter. K9 Nose Work is an increasingly popular option for scent enrichment, and classes are beginning to pop up everywhere. If you can’t commit to a full class, try walking a different route in your neighborhood with your dog each day and letting them sniff as they please.
Think about what “sparks joy” for your companion and start from there. Most of all, have fun with it! Enrichment should be enjoyable for you and your dog so if you’re bored, she probably is too. Find an activity your dog loves and you might be surprised at how enriching it is for you!