The goals of enrichment include:
- reducing abnormal behaviors
- increasing healthy behaviors
- increasing positive interactions with the environment
- increasing the dog’s ability to cope with challenge
Dogs need interesting environments. Choose activities that encourage play, searching, chewing, or being social with other dogs. Rotate toys and activities, and introduce new items, activities, and social interactions regularly to maintain novelty.
Enrichment: the process of modifying an animal’s environment to improve health.
Newberry, R. (1995). Environmental enrichment: Increasing the biological relevance of captive environments. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 44, 229-243.
The Croney Research group found that dogs who got cow hooves as enrichment had less oral disease. Cow hooves reduced infection and inflammation of the gums and bones around the teeth.
Stella, J., Bauer, A., and Croney, C. (2018). A cross-sectional study to estimate prevalence of periodontal disease in a population of dogs (Canis familiaris) in commercial breeding facilities in Indiana and Illinois. PLOS One. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0191395.
For enrichment to be effective for dogs and puppies, it must never be frightening and always safe.
Wan, M., Bolger, N., and Champagne, F.A. (2012). Human perception of fear in dogs varies according to experience with dogs. PLoS One, 7(12), e51775, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051775
Puppies who spent time with humans were more approachable than those who only got toys. Male dogs who received social interaction spent more time sitting at the front of their pens. Researchers interpreted this as seeking human contact.
Hubrecht, R.C. (1995). Enrichment in puppyhood and its effects on later behavior of dogs. Laboratory Animal Science, 45, 70-75.
Environmental Enrichment Library
Bare bones – If you only have a few minutes for the basics
At-A-Glance: Environmental Enrichment: Application - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
At-A-Glance: Environmental Enrichment: Types of Enrichment - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
At-A-Glance: Environmental Enrichment, Stress, and Improved Welfare - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
Quick Tips for Success: Environmental Enrichment in Kennels - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
Environmental Enrichment for Kenneled Dogs - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
Canine Environmental Enrichment Log - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
Early Play in Puppies and Safe Toys to Offer - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
5 Types of Enrichment for Dogs - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
Enrichment for Dogs and Cats 101
SNACKS – If you want to learn more
Enrichment activities to keep your dog entertained
A Guide to Using Food Puzzle Toys With Your Dog
Using Predictability, Scheduling, and Enrichment to Train Your Dog
The Effects of Environmental Enrichment on Dog Behaviour
Kibble – If you want to take a deep dive into the science
Implementing Environmental Enrichment for Dogs - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
Meeting the Behavioral Needs of Kenneled Dogs - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
Maximizing the Effectiveness of Environmental Enrichment: Suggestions From the Experimental Analysis of Behavior
Behavioral Effects of Auditory Stimulation on Kenneled Dogs
Canine and Feline Enrichment in the Home and Kennel: A Guide for Practitioners
Environmental Enrichment: Increasing the Biological Relevance of Captive Environments
Let Me Sniff! Nosework Induces Positive Judgment Bias in Pet Dogs
Effects of Environmental Enrichment on Dog Behaviour: Pilot Study
The Effect of Feeding Enrichment Toys on the Behaviour of Kennelled Dogs (Canis familiaris)
Additional Resources to Support Dogs in Other Environments
SHELTER & RESCUE
Dogs living in shelter or rescue kennels face challenges specific to their living environments. Practical applications for their management and care may also differ. Additional resources for their caretakers, including those caring for dogs in home-based foster systems or rescue networks, are provided to support efforts to improve, maintain, and protect their welfare.
Dogs living in homes as family pets face challenges specific to their living environments. Practical applications for their management and care may also differ. Additional resources for their caretakers, support the human-animal bond, keep pets in their homes, and improve, maintain, and protect their welfare.
Research & Teaching
Dogs living in research or teaching kennels face challenges specific to their living environments. Practical applications for their management and care may also differ. Additional resources for their caretakers are provided to support efforts to improve, maintain, and protect their welfare.
Applications for Research & Teaching
Behavioral Observations in Dogs in 4 Research Facilities: Do They Use Their Enrichment?
Döring, D., Haberland, B.E., Bauer, A., Dobenecker, B., Hack, R., Schmidt, J., & Erhard, M. H. . Behavioral observations in dogs in 4 research facilities: Do they use their enrichment? resting areas, chews, outdoor runs,
A Comparison of Social and Environmental Enrichment Methods for Laboratory Housed Dogs
This study compares the effects of social and physical enrichment on the behaviour and physiological responses of group and pair-housed beagles. Some 432 h of observation were collected from 48 beagles assigned equally to four groups: (1) a control group, (2) a group given increased opportunities for social contact with conspecifics, (3) a group given 30 s day−1 of intensive handling, and (4) a group provided with three different toys/chews permanently suspended in the pen: Rawhide, Gumabone chew and a piece of plastic tubing.
The Effect of Feeding Enrichment upon Reported Working Ability and Behavior of Kenneled Working Dogs
Handlers of 22 working German Shepherd dogs were asked to rate their dogs on 11 attributes pertaining to working ability, related behavioral traits, and health. Eight of the dogs were then provided with daily feeding enrichment for 4 months, while the remainder were given equivalent human attention. The same 11 traits were scored again following the enrichment period: 10 changed little over the period while handlers’ reports of their dogs’ Ability to learn from being rewarded increased significantly.
Horn of Calf Hooves as Chews in Laboratory Dogs
Döring, D., Ketter, D.A., Klima, A., Küchenhoff, H., Dobenecker, B., Schmidt, J., and Erhard, M.H. Horn of calf hooves as chews in laboratory dogs Enrichment
Use of Beds by Laboratory Beagles
Döring, D., Backofen, I., Schmidt, J., Bauer, A., and Erhard, M.H. (2018). Use of beds by laboratory beagles.
Challenges and Solutions Surrounding Environmental Enrichment for Dogs and Cats in a Scientific Environment
Desforges, Emma. 2021. "Challenges and Solutions Surrounding Environmental Enrichment for Dogs and Cats in a Scientific Environment" Animals 11, no. 10: 2980. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11102980
Give Them a Toy or Increase Time out of Kennel at Lawn Areas: What Is the Influence of These Interventions on Police Dogs’ Welfare?
Nogueira,L.B., Palme,R., Mendonça-Furtado, O. Give Them a Toy or Increase Time out of Kennel at Lawn Areas: What Is the Influence of These Interventions on Police Dogs’ Welfare? Enrichment Thus, this study aimed to evaluate the impact of two interventions, a toy and going out to a lawn area, on a group of police dogs. Behavioural and physiological data were used to evaluate the animals’ responses to treatments. We identified a large variety of behavioural profiles amongst the animals that presented different levels of stereotypies, which is an abnormal behaviour pattern that can be associated with stress.
Applications for Pet Families
Canine Enrichment for the Real World: Making It a Part of Your Dog's Daily Life
In the world of dogs, there is now more awareness than ever of the need to provide enrichment, especially in shelters. But what exactly is enrichment? The concept is pretty straightforward: learn what your dog’s needs are, and then structure an environment and routine that allows them to engage in behaviors they find enriching. To truly enrich your dog’s life, you should offer them opportunities to engage in natural or instinctual behaviors. Aside from the limitations we have to place on a dog in today’s modern, busy world, the biggest constraint to enriching your dog’s life is your imagination!
Make Your Dog Happy: The Best Ways to Provide Enrichment for Your Dog
Todd, Z. (2015). Make Your Dog Happy: The Best Ways to Provide Enrichment for Your Dog. Companion Animal Psychology. Retrieved June 24, 2023 from https://www.companionanimalpsychology.com/2015/10/make-your-dog-happy-enrichment.html.
The Play Way
Cook, A. and Chin, L. (n.d.). The Play Way. Retrieved June 24, 2023 from https://blog.doggiedrawings.net/post/614077754120519680.
Enrichment for Senior Dogs
Enrichment activity; stress reduction in dogs; Zurlinden; senior dogs
Impact of Feeding Method on Overall Activity of Indoor, Client‐Owned Dogs
Su, D. K., Murphy, M., Hand, A., Zhu, X., & Witzel‐Rollins, A. Impact of feeding method on overall activity of indoor, client‐owned dogs. Enrichment feeding toys
Applications for Shelter & Rescue
Addressing Stress in Dogs in Shelters Through a Novel Visual and Auditory Enrichment Device
Epstein, J., Dowling-Guyer, S., McCobb, E., Glotzer, C., and Dodman, N.H. . Addressing stress in dogs in shelters through a novel visual and auditory enrichment device. Enrichment
Effects of Human Contact and Toys on the Fear Responses to Humans of Shelter-Housed Dogs
Conley, M.J., Fisher, A.D., & Hemsworth, P.H. Effects of human contact and toys on the fear responses to humans of shelter-housed dogs enrichment welfare
Enrichment for Dogs in Shelters
Best Friends (n.d.). Enrichment for Dogs in Shelters. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from https://resources.bestfriends.org/article/enrichment-dogs-shelters.
Shelter Playgroup Alliance: Enrichment With Boxes and Egg Cartons
Shelter Playgroup Alliance (n.d.) Enrichment with boxes and egg cartons. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MhlO9kPW-k.
Center for Shelter Dogs. (2014). Entertainment. Tufts University: Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Retrieved June 21, 2023, from https://centerforshelterdogs.tufts.edu/dog-welfare/enrichment/entertainment/.
Enrichment for Shelter Dogs
Lohnes, R. (2019). Enrichment for Shelter Dogs. Maddie's Fund. Retrieved June 24, 2023 from https://www.maddiesfund.org/enrichment-for-shelter-dogs.htm?p=topic1011.
The Influence of Environmental Change On The Behaviour of Sheltered Dogs
One hundred and twenty dogs sheltered by the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were studied over a 4-h period. The dogs' position in the cage, vocalisation, and activity were investigated in response to increased human social stimulation, moving the dog's bed to the front of the cage, or suspending a toy from the front of the dog's cage.
The Influence of Olfactory Stimulation on the Behaviour of Dogs Housed in a Rescue Shelter
This study explored the influence of five types of olfactory stimulation (control, lavender, chamomile, rosemary and peppermint) on the behaviour of 55 dogs housed in a rescue shelter. The dogs were exposed to each type of olfactory stimulation, through the diffusion of essential oils, for 4 h a day for 5 days, with an intervening period of 2 days between conditions. The dogs’ behaviour was recorded on days 1, 3 and 5, during each condition of olfactory stimulation. Certain aspects of the dogs’ behaviour were influenced by the odours.
The Scent of Enrichment: Exploring the Effect of Odour and Biological Salience on Behaviour During Enrichment of Kennelled Dogs
Murtagh, K., Farnworth, M.J., and Brilot, B.O. The scent of enrichment: Exploring the effect of odour and biological salience on behaviour during enrichment of kennelled dogs. toys
Kennel Enrichment: Exercise and Socialization of Dogs
Coppinger, R., Zuccotti, J.(1999). Kennel enrichment: exercise and socialization of dogs. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 2(4), 281-96. doi: 10.1207/s15327604jaws0204_3. PMID: 16363933.
Effects of Environmental Enrichment on the Behavior of Shelter Dogs
Herron, M.E., Kirby-Madden, T.M. & Lord, L.K. Effects of environmental enrichment on the behaviour of shelter dogs. To determine the effect of food-toy enrichment combined with cage-behavior training on desirable behaviors in shelter dogs and adoption rates. Design—Randomized controlled clinical trial. Animals—107 dogs. Procedures—Dogs placed up for adoption in a municipal shelter were randomly assigned to either an experimental group (n = 48) or control group (59). Experimental group subjects were exposed to an environmental enrichment and training protocol consisting of twice-daily cage-behavior training and daily provision of a food-filled toy.
Human Interaction Moderates Plasma Cortisol and Behavioral Responses of Dogs to Shelter Housing
Shiverdecker, M. D., Schiml, P. A., & Hennessy, M. B. Human interaction moderates plasma cortisol and behavioral responses of dogs to shelter housing enrichment
Habituation and Dishabituation During Object Play in Kennel-Housed Dogs
Pullen, A.J., Merrill, R.J.N., and Bradshaw, J.W.S. Habituation and dishabituation during object play in kennel-housed dogs. enrichment Domestic dogs are reported to show intense but transient neophilia towards novel objects. Here, we examine habituation and dishabituation to manipulable objects by kennel-housed dogs. Labrador retrievers (N = 16) were repeatedly presented with one toy for successive 30-s periods until interaction ceased.
Preferences for Toy Types and Presentations in Kennel Housed Dogs
In this study we have examined short-term preferences for toys with a range of characteristics, using two methods of presentation, in both long-stay dogs in complex kennels, and short-stay dogs in rehoming kennels. Our findings support previous proposals that robust toys are little used by kennel housed dogs. However, with less robust toys, interaction was relatively prolonged, indicating that interest to the dog may be enhanced if the toy can be chewed easily and/or makes a noise. Hanging toys were not favoured, although these have been reported to stimulate high levels of interaction in juvenile laboratory beagles. Pullen, A. J., Merrill, R. J. N., & Bradshaw, J. W. S. (2010). Preferences for toy types and presentations in kennel housed dogs.