Young puppies seem to have boundless energy! Sometimes this energy and curiosity can feel overwhelming, but there are some fun and easy ways to expel that energy while also enriching your puppy. Puppies need physical and mental enrichment or else they can become bored and start to get into things that they shouldn’t. We put together a list of ways to get some extra enrichment in your day so that your puppy can learn and grow, and also get tired out!
Physical enrichment is important because it can tire out a puppy. We all know that active dogs are more fit, and a tired puppy is a good puppy. Walks around the neighborhood are important for young pups, but that may not be enough especially when the weather isn’t ideal.
We recommend doing some indoor activities to get some extra physical enrichment during the day.
- Throw a ball: Tossing a squeaky ball or tennis ball to play fetch or against a wall is a great way to get your puppy moving.
- Play hide and seek inside: You can run from room to room and encourage your puppy to run with you or hide and call them to practice recall
- Wrestle or play tug: For puppies that are not working on play biting or inappropriate chewing, you can drag a soft toy in a circle for them to chase or play tug
- Practice some dog sports: You can start teaching your puppy agility or set up small obstacles for your puppy to climb over, through, or around.
- Have a puppy playdate: Have other vaccinated, friendly pups over for playtime or go to their house, just make sure to monitor to make sure that the play is equal (one isn’t hiding more or getting chased more). For more information, read our blog on how to safely socialize your pup.
Mental enrichment is vital to a growing puppy’s brain development and well-being. It improves physical well-being, reduces stress, and gives your puppy more autonomy and control over their surroundings. Figuring out how to get the food, licking, and chewing are all forms of mental enrichment, so we love using puppys’ meals to accomplish this!
- Kongs: You can stuff a Kong with kibble, wetted down kibble, or other pastes and let them work on getting the food out. Once they get the hang of it you can freeze it to make it last even longer.
- Snuffle mats: Sprinkle kibble onto the mat and have your pup sniff to find it all (not for puppies that are working on inappropriate chewing of soft things)
- Wobble feeders: Fill the feeder with kibble and have your puppy knock it around to get out all of the food.
- Treat puzzles and toys: Plastic puzzles and soft toys can be filled with kibble or treats for your puppy to figure out and get the food out (not for puppies that are working on inappropriate chewing of soft things and will need to monitor with plastic pieces).
Training for Enrichment
Just like humans can be exhausted after a long day of problem-solving and working, training is a great way to both enrich your puppy and tire them out. Training uses physical enrichment, mental enrichment, and helps strengthen the bond you have with your puppy.
Use their kibble to teach new commands (go slowly and reward each new accomplishment), practice reps of sit, down, place, and coming when called and duration (time spent in the command) for sit stay, down stay, wait, or while on place.
You can also reinforce the behaviors you would like to see instead of problem behaviors. Try using kibble to reinforce an auto-sit instead of jumping or when introducing appropriate toys to combat inappropriate chewing or play biting.
If you’d like more ideas about ways to get more enrichment into your pup’s life or help with accomplishing your puppy training goals, our trainers would love to help!