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5 Types of Enrichment for Dogs with Examples | Pupford

August 11th, 2023

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While you might already be familiar with enrichment, do you know the types of enrichment for dogs?

In this episode, I’ll give you 5 specific types of enrichment with examples for each type.

Understanding the types of enrichment for your pup will help you improve on each one and give your dog a more fulfilled life. And when a dog lives an enriching life, they behave better!

Related Reading: Enrichment for Dogs - An A-Z Guide


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While enrichment can be a catch-all term, there are 5 specific types you should know about.

  1. Social enrichment
  2. Occupational enrichment
  3. Physical enrichment
  4. Sensory enrichment
  5. Nutritional enrichment

Let's look at each one below. 👇


dogs playing for social enrichment | Pupford

Just like humans, dogs thrive when they have quality social interactions. Social enrichment for dogs can be as simple as your dog meeting and engaging with other dogs and humans (in a positive environment).

Keep in mind, this is different from puppy (or adult) socialization. This is about interactions to fulfill their need to be around other dogs.

Just like you, your pup needs friends!

Here are some ways to give your dog social enrichment:

  • Have play dates with dogs in your area
  • Join group training classes to interact with other dogs and their humans
  • Encouraging your dog (at their pace) to interact with dogs on walks, at the park, etc.
  • Keep in mind that stressful situations around dogs and humans should be avoided as much as possible! (looking at you, dog parks)
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dog doing sport for occupational enrichment | Pupford

On a weekly basis, I have a conversation with my dogs about them getting a job. I mean, the bowls aren’t gonna fill themselves, right? 😉

And while that is just a bad “dad joke”, it truly is important for our dogs to have some type of job. And hopefully, they do that job on a daily basis!

This type of enrichment for dogs is most closely related to physical exercise. Most jobs you can give your dog should include both physical and mental exercise.

Here are some ways to give your dog occupational enrichment:

The key here is a solid combination of physical and mental exercise combined into “task” style jobs!


dog digging for physical enrichment | Pupford

While you may be thinking of exercise, this type of enrichment is more about your dog’s surroundings and environment.

For our dogs, it’s important to give them tools in their environment that are enriching. Plus, when dogs have a sense of freedom and interaction with their environment, it produces positive results.

Here are some ways to give your dog physical enrichment:

  • Add interactive toys throughout your home or yard
  • Create a digging area in your backyard (think sandbox)
  • Have a dog door so your dog can go outside and explore your yard when they desire
  • Giving a special place for their bed that’s only for them

It doesn’t have to be complex but try to make your dog’s environment as safe and enriching as possible.

🐶 Don't miss out, shop our full line of Enrichment Toys to work your dog's brain. Shop here! 🐶


dog looking out a window for sensory enrichment | Pupford

While we often think about the “smells” side of sensory enrichment, what about the other senses?!

You can use sounds and even sights to help enrich your dogs’ life.

While it can be easy to go overboard with sensory enrichment for dogs, try to keep it simple!

Here are some ways to give your dog sensory enrichment:

  • Giving a place for your dog to look outside (can be a window, etc)
  • Use sounds and music to help calm your dog (my pups love classical music)
  • Add new scents to your dog’s environment that are enjoyable for them

Using all of your dog’s senses can keep them happy and enriched!


dog doing puzzle for nutritional enrichment | Pupford

This is probably the type of enrichment you’re most used to, nutritional enrichment!

In their ancestral roots, dogs foraged for food. It wasn’t just presented to them in a bowl!

So, it’s important to give them opportunities to tap into their innate desire to forage and search for food.

Here are some fun ways to give your dog nutritional enrichment:

Related Reading: Contrafreeloading & Dogs

Nutritional enrichment should be something you incorporate into every meal for your pup!


two retriever dogs doing some sensory enrichment in grass | Pupford

While some types of enrichment for dogs are more important than others, all enrichment is important for raising a well-behaved and happy dog.

Taking the time and effort each day to give your dog enriching experiences will provide massive benefits in the long run.

Have you noticed an improvement in your dog’s behavior when they’re getting enrichment? Tell me about your experience in the comments below!

And before you go, be sure to check out our full line of enrichment toys, content, and courses here!

🐶 Don't miss out, shop our full line of Enrichment Toys to work your dog's brain. Shop here! 🐶


Devin Stagg: This is the Perfect Pup Podcast, helping you build a better relationship with your pup, presented by Pupford. Hello pup parents and welcome to today's episode of the Perfect Pup Podcast. My name is Devin. This episode, very important. I'm going to go over five different types of enrichment. We talk a lot about enrichment and we'll usually break it down just kind of mental or physical, but I want to dive into an article that I read from Purdue University that kind of broke this down into a more succinct format of what different types of enrichment there are. So let's dive right into it.

First off, sorry, I've been on a couple week hiatus. I took a little bit of time away, but I'm excited to be back and to be doing another podcast and I'm very excited about this episode because I think a lot of times, you've heard it here, you've heard it a lot of places, the word enrichment. There's starting to be more and more of a focus on enrichment in our dogs' lives and that's a good thing. I think it's important to understand more fully what each type of enrichment is and it'll hopefully give you some ideas on how you can best improve your dog's life. First, I'll read through the five different types of enrichment and then I'll kind of break down each one and give an example or two.

The five types, you have social, occupational, physical, sensory and nutritional. When we talk about enrichment, I think a lot of times most people are thinking about the nutritional side of enrichment, like puzzle games and slow feeders and different types of those food related things. And that's one type, but there are so many others. Let's dive into the five different types of dog enrichment. The first one is social. Really, you can think of this as dogs are social animals. They have been bred to be social animals and so they need interaction with other dogs, as well as other humans. They need to meet new people. They need to meet new dogs. This is not socialization, that's a completely different topic, but this is social enrichment. Your dog being able to, just like us humans, have a life and be able to like have friends and meet new people and new experiences.

So just like for yourself, you go to parties or whatever to meet new people, you take your dog to a park or you go to maybe a group training class for your dog to kind of make new friends, be able to socialize with other dogs and have that social enrichment that's so important for their minds. The second one is going to be occupational. Some dogs have real occupations. They're therapy dogs or they are service dogs or they're bomb sniffing dogs or whatever it might be, but most of us, our dogs are stay at home dogs. They don't have an actual occupation, although we sometimes wish maybe they would get a job and start earning money. Sorry, that was the worst like dad joke, but I had to throw it in there.

So occupational, if your dog has an actual job, great. But for the rest of us, it's things that are going to get them having to complete tasks and kind of problem solve, so you can think of it as things like working on fetch or even playing sports like flyball or agility. Things that are going to be an actual job that they're having to accomplish things. Trick training, I believe already said that, is part of it as well, so giving your dog something that they can work on. And if you're looking for ideas for dog sports you can get into, we've done podcast episodes with Trevor Smith. We've done an intro to dog sports course with him that's part of Pupford Academy. There are a lot of different things, resources within the Pupford ecosystem that you can use to learn more about things like dock diving, things like agility and canicross and all these different things. Barn hunt. There's so many different things that you can do.

The third type is physical. So when we talk about physical enrichment, we're not necessarily talking about exercise really. You can kind of think of that separately from these five types of enrichment. Physical is going to be kind of think of it mostly as your dogs' environment, so what toys are readily available for them to explore and kind of make decisions on their own? What is their living area like? If your dog's often kept in a backyard, what, what's back there that they can use to work their time and to kind of have a more enriching life? You can think of it as even a specific bed that's for your dog or a place that they can go if they're feeling nervous. Sometimes it's a kennel. Sometimes it's a certain room or a certain bed. Giving your dog that physical enriching environment that's just going to be... You think for yourself why do we put paintings on the walls? Why do we get decorations? Because it's enriching for us as humans.

And there's similar concepts for our dogs that they want things in their environment that are going to be novel and exciting for them. You can almost think of this physical as their actual physical surroundings and not necessarily them physically doing things. That one, I think, is very interesting and there's a lot that you could try and do there. Giving an elevated bed or even giving... if you have space in a yard, like giving something like a ramp that they can run up and down or a sandbox for a certain types of dogs that type that like to dig, giving them a positive outlet in their physical environment.

If you're looking for a treat that'll get your dog's attention, please check out Pupford training treats. They are made from simple ingredients. They're low calorie. Less than one kcal per treat and dogs love them and that's what's important with your training is something to get your dogs attention.

The fourth type is sensory enrichment. That's going to be everything like smells, sights, sounds. There's a lot of things that can go along with this and I think it's important to not overdo it necessarily, but keep in mind that there have been studies done that show certain smells can help our dogs feel more calm and feel more enriched. There's studies around music. Certain types of music like classical music has been shown to help dogs relax more and maybe sleep better and those types of, so just thinking about how you can use all of your dog senses and even sites. Part of this, you could almost tie into the physical enrichment where you could say "What does my dog get to look at on a daily basis?" There's a reason that sometimes people will put those... I don't know if you've seen kind of like the porthole looking things in their fences so that dogs can look out and see the world around them. That can be a positive and a negative because then they might bark or they might fence guard or whatever it might be, but you know your dog and you know that there might be instances where you can get them more things to look at and be more visually appealing in your home or in your yard area.

And the fifth type of enrichment is the one we're probably the most familiar with and that is nutritional enrichment. Dogs, again, however you want to look at it, where they've descended from, there was hunting and foraging for food and that is a part of what they have had to do. And now in the domesticated state, especially in current world, dogs are often just in a home and they sit there and wait for you to open the bag and dump some food in for them and there they have it, so finding ways to make your dog work for their food is so enriching because it's, again, it's just a natural thing that our dogs need and it's a part of their DNA to search for their food and forage. Utilize that. It's a powerful thing for them.

And to wrap up all of these five different types. So again, we have social, occupational, physical, sensory and nutritional\. All of these things are going to help your dog live a better life and, in theory and ideally, be better behaved also. That can mean as your dog is living a more enriching life and they're having this occupational enrichment where they're working on dock diving or something, all of those things naturally are going to make your dog a better dog and make you be able to communicate with them better and hopefully be able to have a better behaved dog. And when we think about enrichment, these five types, there are things that certainly you can do every day to improve your dog's experience. I'm going to truthfully test out trying some different music when I leave my dogs. I've typically done some playlist that I have that's hits and Indie music and random things, but I might try classical music and see what difference it makes for my dog.

Hopefully you have some ideas on things you can do to give your dog a more enriching and fulfilling life. Thank you so much for listening. Again, I appreciate you for your patience as I was gone for a couple weeks and didn't upload episodes. I am really appreciative of the reviews that are coming in. If you enjoy this episode or this podcast as a whole, please leave your review. It is the most helpful thing that you can do to make sure that this podcast it is heard by more pup parents. So please, please leave a review, especially on Apple Podcasts. And other than that, we will catch you on the next episode.


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