5 Great Ways to Reframe Your Laziness As Canine Enrichment

Dogs need enrichment, and that’s a fact. ‘Enrichment’ refers to opportunities for an animal to practice their natural behaviours, to give their brains and bodies a workout. Dog enrichment typically includes food puzzles, scent games, sniffari-style walks, and other things that dogs love and that, frankly, everyone and their dog already does. You want to be different? You want to be better? Well, join me, one and all. Here are five ways to enrich your dog’s life through abject lazitude on your part.

n.b.: only do these activities if they are safe and reasonable for your dog. obvo.

One: Laundry Scent Games

Did you pull weeds in the garden for a good hour today? (Or maybe was it just half an hour? Ok fine, ten minutes.) It’s likely the case that your pants will be dirty from sitting and kneeling in the garden, to say nothing of that large root-beer stain. Technically, you should march those pantaloons right to the laundry facilities, right? Wrong! Hold your horses there, tidy one. Don’t you care about enrichment? If yes, well then those pants, (and perhaps all your other really dirty clothing items), are best left on the floor. Your dog needs to seek and find them, to experience the joy of the novel scents, and then finally, enriched and delighted, make a bed in them, circling and pawing until everything is just perfect.

Two: Hunt for MY Dinner

This dish was actually delish, but the picture fit.

This dish was actually delish, but the picture fit.

Did your spouse give you an extra helping of Nanna’s Blandest Recipe Ever and you don’t want to get in trouble by dumping those dumplings in the trash? Wait until your spouse’s attention is diverted as you’re stacking dishes in the kitchen (or better yet, divert it yourself: a kitten video is almost always a good option), and then toss a few of those (…what are those things?) on the floor for your dog to eat. Aim somewhere out of your spouse’s line of sight, of course. Although some may interpret this as throwing food on the floor, you and I know that you’re meeting your dog’s need to scavenge and/or hunt. Brava, you!

Three: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Did you finish the last of the yogurt, eating it directly out of the container whilst standing at the fridge? Normally you’d rinse the container out carefully and set it to dry, ready to recycle.*** And when I say ‘normally you’d do that’, I was referring to those people who want their dogs to suffer. You, as someone oriented towards your dog’s enrichment needs, will immediately provide the yogurt container for your dog to clean out. They’ll lick up all that delicious dairy and perhaps even bury the container in your dirty laundry for good measure, nosing root-beer stained jeans carefully on top. Now we’re looking at a happy, enriched dog: instant food toy, plus opportunity to ‘cache’ and bury.

***HA! normally, you’d stack with the other dishes at the sink waiting to be washed.

Four: The Gift Of Time

You’re out on a walk and your dog perks up and wants to investigate that thing, that thing that is oh-so-important to dogs. It’s a [candy wrapper|mystery stain|biological waste|possibly a crime scene|obviously totally gross]. Normally, you’d put your Basic Obedience Class Grad training to the test here, with a nice ‘leave it!’ or a short stint of ‘watch me’ or something else useful that you’ve trained. But not today, my lazy friends. Today is not the day for blind obedience. Today is the day for enrichment. You pull out your phone and open your favourite thing to do and let your dog sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff to their heart’s content. “Who am I to judge another creature’s joy?” you can say, rather stridently, to the man who walks past you with a questioning look.

Five: Dog TV

Your dog gets up on the back of the couch to look out the window and take life in (honest and slightly cringe-inducing truth here: in my house, this is sometimes the kitchen table.) Another person might say ‘hm, time to re-arrange the furniture, do some training, or close the drapes’. Another person who wants to deprive their dog, that is. What you—the lazy enricher—will do is sit back and enjoy your dog’s own enjoyment. You won’t re-arrange the furniture, nor will you get up and close the drapes (who has the time for that?) so nothing is acting as a magnet pulling your dog up on the couch. If you do anything at all, you’ll put a nice cushy blanket on the back of the couch so your dog’s perch is extra comfortable and you don’t have to spend all that effort vacuuming the couch later.

Enrichment matters, friends. And since it must work for your dog, it may as well work for you.