Make your dog work for its treats
“One easy way to provide mental stimulation and enrichment is to have your dog work for her food. This can be accomplished by purchasing toys like a kong or a treat dispensing ball where food falls out one piece at a time,” said Haussmann, adding that you can also freeze the stuffed Kong to make it more challenging.
He warns, though, that you should not go overboard with the treats. “Try not to add extra calories if your dog will not be getting exercise. Using their daily meals for these exercises should be sufficient if you are splitting them up throughout the day.”
Play fetch or set up an obstacle course
As you might already know, a cramped apartment can never hold any dog back from having fun. The same should apply to you when arranging workouts for your canine.
“A game of hallway or stairwell fetch can come in handy. It does not need to be a long hallway. The goal is to keep it fun and exciting,” said Haussmann, also recommending you move your furniture to create a small obstacle course. “Teaching your dog to jump over a chair or go under a table can be an exciting change of pace. It promotes positive, healthy leadership all while getting her heart rate up.”
Invite everyone to play hide-and-seek
If you live with multiple people, and those multiple people happen to already be bored with self-quarantine, a game of hide-and-go-seek might stimulate both humans and doggos.
“This is especially fun for kids who are cooped up and getting antsy. It’s also an effective way to begin training a dog to ‘come’ when called.”
Use scents as toys
Stash your dog’s favorite treat around your home and watch them track it down. You’ll not only get them to be more active, but you’ll also get to see their powerful sense of smell in action. According to Haussmann, this kind of activity is both engaging and “great for small spaces too!”
Make some puzzles
Another highly-engaging activity is to do some problem solving. No puzzles at home? No problem. Haussmann says that you can use everyday household items.
“Try an empty box filled with kibble and sealed shut with small holes poked in it. The holes should be just big enough for the kibble to slip through a little at a time. When your pooch knocks it around the kibble falls out little by little. Don’t be discouraged if she just rips it to shreds, this is enriching in its own way!
“Another easy and creative hack is to take a metal muffin pan, put a few pieces of kibble in each space, then put a tennis ball in each space covering the treat. Your dog will have fun moving the balls out of the way to get at the food.”
And if your dog makes a mess? Haussmann says that it still counts as enrichment!