Enrich Your Dog Companion’s Mind!

Just a few years ago, we were living during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people began to understand better then what life is like for their animal companions—perpetually stuck inside without necessarily much to do. Mental enrichment is just as important as physical, and many people took up new hobbies during the lockdown to keep themselves entertained. We shouldn’t forget those trying times when we think of our dog companions. They deserve to have fun ways to keep their minds occupied, too! Here are some ideas we hope you’ll try with your best friend:

Try a lick mat.

Lick mats are a great way to comfort your dog while providing mental stimulation. Dogs lick themselves, in part, for comfort, so giving them a mat with delicious treats on it is a wonderful way to combat anxiety while giving them something to do.

You can purchase a lick mat from your local pet supply store (one that doesn’t sell live animals, of course!) or online retailers like Amazon. Cover its grooves with treats like dog-friendly peanut butter—but make sure that xylitol, which is highly poisonous to dogs, isn’t among the ingredients!—or wet dog food, and then watch them have the time of their lives.

Challenge them during mealtime.

I have a companion beagle, so I know all about dogs who scarf down their daily meals. One way to prevent them from eating too fast while also giving them a bit of a mental challenge is by using a slow feeder. These items are also available at just about every pet supply store. Slow-feeding bowls feature a maze-like center that makes dogs work a bit harder for their food while providing enrichment.

Take a page from Ingrid Newkirk’s book.

As always, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk was ahead of her time. Animal enrichment has become all the rage on social media (have you checked out DogTok?!), but Ingrid had already authored a book about providing dogs with constant enrichment. Let’s Have a Dog Party!, originally published in 2007, offers timeless advice for animal guardians to spice up their companions’ lives.

Her idea? Throw an actual dog party! Invite human and dog friends over, provide some delicious food and treats for all involved, and give them a theme. Does your dog love to go for hikes? Hit the trails with other dogs they know well. Got a water lover? Throw a pool party. Sometimes it’s as easy as buckling up your buddy for a car ride or taking a longer walk than usual. These activities will stimulate your dog mentally and physically, leaving them satisfied and happy at the end of the day.

Our dog companions are family members, so providing them with physical and mental activities each day is the perfect way to keep them happy and healthy.

Not all dogs, though, are lucky enough to have guardians who read blog posts about helping them have better lives. Some live chained outdoors, without warmth, toys, or companionship. Consider donating a doghouse, toys, or other items to these dogs. PETA’s fieldworkers will deliver these items to help improve conditions for neglected “backyard dogs.”

Support Lonely ‘Backyard Dogs’