Many people ask me what I mean when I say, “Specialist One 2 One walks with an emphasis on fun and enrichment.”
Our Canine enrichment walks mean they are not just ordinary walks but fun and help enrich your dog’s life and break the boredom of the day up as they wait for you to return from work.
Enriching your dog’s life does not have to be expensive or complicated. It doesn’t have to be creating tasks for them to solve all the time. Enrichment covers a whole range of things that are “different” to the regular routine. This could include hiding treats in a folded towel for them to find, exploring a cupboard or bag safely, going on a different walk etc.
As well as physical exercise, most dogs enjoy mental exercise and love to solve simple problems. Mentally stimulating games help your dog build confidence.
Enrichment can be simple and non-expensive, with homemade games and puzzles using recycling, old socks, foraging or using specific food retrieval toys. Every time a dog manages to solve something, they feel uplifted, their confidence grows, and they expect to succeed again.
Games must start nice and easy so a dog can solve them with just a little effort, and then, depending on the dog, they can gradually become more challenging. If a dog cannot solve a problem, it will lose confidence.
Unlike humans, dogs investigate the world by smell. Using their nose enriches them, and they love checking their wee-mail. When at home or out on a walk, it is enriching for dogs to be able to use their nose in as many ways as possible. One of the benefits of a One 2 One walk over a standard group walk is that we provide plenty of opportunities for them to sniff.
I always feel sad to see a dog pulled along on a walk when they want to smell the world around them and explore. Creating opportunities to sniff and giving your dog time to explore on his walks with his nose is life-enriching and something all our walks include. I think a walk enables the dog to enjoy themselves – it’s THEIR walk. Slowing down and letting them sniff is very satisfying for them. Other things could involve setting up a “treat tree” for them to sniff out the treats and get an instant reward.
Finding interesting ways to feed your dog is another way to make their life more enjoyable. Scattering food around, hiding it in the garden in small chunks or using it to learn something with you are examples of ways to make food time more fun.
Avoiding too much frustration is important. Working hard to enrich your dog’s life is great – but if they are doing tasks that don’t suit them or knock their confidence, it’s not enrichment. Similarly, if the same exercise is completed every day, it moves from being enriching to being normal. Newness counts, but always newness in a way that your dog can manage.
Our walks are not ordinary walks; they are super-fun walks that are always jazzed up in different ways!
Below are some other articles by Derel Chambers that may be of interest