Dogs and cats both need mental, physical and emotional stimulation on a daily basis.
Physical enrichment involves any sort of exercise, playing with toys, walks, running, chasing a Frisbee or running after a ball. Physical enrichment is important for both you and your dog and while you may feel like you’re doing it just for your dog, you will soon find that you end up feeling fantastic, too! A walk or jog for half an hour to an hour where they can sniff and play each day will keep any pooch happy.
Physical enrichment for a cat involves playing, chasing, hunting, pouncing, catching and stalking toys. Leave a ping-pong ball in the bathtub and watch as your cat makes it sail around the curves. This is lots of hunting and catching fun. Play with toys on a string and make your cat leap for the toy, they will have fun for hours!
Mental stimulation for a dog involves anything that will keep them occupied and thinking about something for a period of time. For example, Kong toys and food puzzles are a great way to keep your dog interested. If you don’t have a Kong you can DIY and get a tennis ball or small soccer ball and cut a few small slits in it, then fill it with your dogs favourite dry food; they will spend hours trying to get the food out. Bones are a good way to entertain your dog for a while. If they are ball crazy, you can tie a ball to a rope and hang it from a lower branch in the garden they will spend hours jumping trying to get the ball. Fill a child’s wading pool with water and let your dog spend his time wading and playing in the water. If the dog enjoys both water and digging, you can alternate between water and sand in the pool each week.
Hang rope or inner tubes from a branch or other item in the yard for the dog to play tug of war with.
If your dog is sociable with other dogs, try scheduling doggy “play-dates” with your friends & families dogs.
Some cats can be quite active and love to play, so cardboard boxes as beds, dens, tunnels and mazes can be fun for your cat. Make a "busy box" by attaching small toys to short lengths of cord and suspending them from the ceiling of a large box. Cut window flaps in the den at various heights.
Food enrichment for both dogs and cats can involve bones, chicken necks, alternating between different food types, flavours and textures. Heat up the food in winter and make ice treats in summer (freeze some pieces of steak for really hot days). Scatter dry food throughout the backyard or down the hall way, hide treats in places so your pet has to hunt for their food.
Emotional enrichment can be as simple as some cuddles and attention from you. Grooming is a good way of sharing time with your pet and also helps to prevent their coat becoming matted.