Enriching your dog's environment

This is a most important aspect when owning a dog, and one that is often neglected. Mental stimulation is just as vital for your dog as the physical, even more so if you live with a dog bred to work. Dogs are very capable of creating their own jobs if no one gives them one. Many dogs will effectively demonstrate this need by barking, destroying, digging and even escaping. So now itís time to get creative!

Primary dog needs when alone: shaded water, things to occupy time, space to move around and shade. Often dogs will sleep whilst their owners are away, especially if they have inside access, so make the bed area as pleasant as possible.
A back yard, no matter how big, is ultimately just an outside room with four walls and needs to be enriched.

I recommend you get set up with 3 batches of toys (say 30 all up), split them into three groups so you have 3 days worth. Be sure to have plenty of interactive, home alone and food dispensing toys and collect them upon returning home so that they maintain their "specialness" for when you are not home. Have your dog work for their breakfast using food dispensing toys, thus filling in time and providing mental stimulation. If there are times when you are at home that barking is likely, you set up this system for those times also. Individual dogs will have different preferences.

As dogs are social animals it is very important you spend quality time with your dog every day. These ideas should be used in addition to your normal family interaction and an exercise regime. You should take great care to ensure that there is no danger to your dog in any of these activities: chicken stock ice blocks; freeze a knotted rope into an ice block so it could be hung somewhere; window or viewing platform (if your dog is highly excited by movement this may not be an appropriate activity); digging pit/sand pit; wading pool; plastic bottles , punch some holes in the sides large enough for pieces of dry food to fall through (be sure to remove the bottle top and the plastic ring for your dogís safety); swinging tyre; recycling rubbish - empty milk cartons, cardboard rolls, egg cartons, cereal boxes can be used to entertain your dog. Place some treats in them and let him find the treats and have fun destroying the boxes (be careful though if your dog likes to ingest foreign materials); treasure hunt: take a cup of dry food and go out into your backyard and throw it all over the grass; a dog walker and some funfilled dog play dates!