Show dogs are amazing creatures that go above and beyond their everyday breed mates. One way to ensure that these dogs get the care they need between competitions, is to keep them properly stimulated. The best way to do this is by adding enrichment activities to your kennel. If you’ve never considered this, we’ve laid out the reasons why it’s so critical. Plus, we’ve included some easy ways to include it in your kennel design. Let’s dive in.
Why Should I Focus On Enrichhment?
Your dogs will only take home the top prize if they’re at peak performance, so it makes sense to optimize their time off as much as possible. For dogs, “optimizing” typically means adding intentional activities and stimuli to reduce boredom, lower stress, and make happier pups. While it might sound complicated, the good news is that adding simple enrichment activities is easy to do and will require just a few adjustments to the dogs’ (and your!) lifestyles.
Enrichment is so vital that the American Kennel Club advocates for building it into your show dog kennels as a way to inhibit dangerous upper respiratory problems and increase their psychological wellbeing.
Types Of Enrichment
When we talk about “enrichment” in a kennel, there are a few key areas to focus on for optimal performance. Here are some ideas for how you can target each category with easy upgrades and activities.
Dogs by nature are pack animals, so it’s important that we allow the dogs time to socialize. Kennels with open play or feeding areas are a great way to build social activities and reduce boredom. If you have dogs in multiple show categories, it’s best to group them by size for playtime to reduce any accidental injuries. If you only have one dog, consider taking them to the dog park or allotting a day dedicated to putting them in doggy daycare.
Your show dog may be pampered, but that doesn’t mean they should be left to lay about all day. Physical enrichment will help keep your show dogs lean and in shape. If your dogs haven’t had much physical activity in the past, start small by adding things like elevated beds, platforms, or ramps. These minor additions will trigger their muscles to work in new ways and help slowly build endurance.
Sensory enrichment is activities that cater to specific senses like sight, sound, or taste. It’s important to balance stimuli in the kennels so that your dogs aren’t overstimulated or hurt due to an overload of sensations. For example, kennels with lots of loud, ambient noise can damage a dogs hearing so it’s important to balance it with a calmer stream of audio like classical music. Dogs can also react positively to things that trigger their olfactory senses in the same way humans do. Consider adding things like lavender bundles out of reach of the pups, as their
scent can have a calming effect on stressed dogs.
Like occupational enrichment, nutrition can trigger your dog’s natural instinct for foraging and feeding. Toys like puzzle feeders are especially great for overactive dogs who need distractions to help calm their behavior. You can also try things like Kong toys which create a challenge for dogs to get their tasty treats while still keeping them active and fit.
No matter which enrichment activities you decide to have for your kennel, it’s important that you pay attention to the individual needs of each dog. Not all activities will have the same result for every dog, so ensure that you start small and pay attention to how each dog responds to the new stimuli.
If you have more questions or need suggestions, we’re here to help. Feel free to contact us for customized kennel solutions that can help keep your show dogs ready to compete.