With summer just around the corner, everybody is gearing up for sunshine, patio drinks, barbecues, and time spent outside. There’s no end to the summer fun for us, but what about your pups? Here are some ideas to switch up the routine and add canine enrichment to your summer fun!
Pupsicles: These inexpensive, easy to make treats give your dog something fun to play with while also keeping them cool on those hot summer days. Using popsicle molds, (or ice cube trays, muffin tins, paper cups, etc), drop in some dog-safe goodies and fill them with water or broth. You can forgo the sticks so your friend doesn’t try to eat the whole thing, or use something edible like carrot sticks, dried salmon skin treats, dried duck feet or beef trachea, or jerky treats. Freeze and watch your pups enjoy! The ideas for flavours are endless but we can get you started. Peanut butter and banana is a classic combo. If you want, skip the broth and use banana puree to fill the whole thing. Be sure to check the label on your peanut butter to make sure it doesn’t contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, which is toxic to dogs (natural peanut butter is best). Some baked chicken breast, cubed apple and a sprinkle of cheese will be a hit. For dogs that like their veggies, try pieces of bell pepper and some pieces of cooked liver, with a sprinkle of parsley to freshen up the breath. Pumpkin loving dogs will enjoy pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) and shredded carrots. Mix together some blueberries, cottage cheese and/or cream cheese for a pretty purple pupsicle. Don’t be afraid to get creative!
Hide and Seek: This game is great to play inside or outside. Not only does it tire out your pooch mentally, it also strengthens their stay, recall, and scent skills. This may be easier with two people, one to distract the dog and one to hide, until your dog understands to wait before he searches for you. The person hiding brings some tasty treats or a favorite toy to reward the dog once they’ve been found. Don’t forget to celebrate! Hiding places can be as easy as stepping behind a tree, corner or door, or as elaborate as climbing a tree or hiding inside a cupboard or closet. Be aware of your environment and always ensure your dogs safety if you are playing this game outside of your own home and yard.
Car Rides and Field Trips: Who doesn’t love the wind in their hair on a beautiful summer day? Or is it rainy outside and you don’t feel like donning the rain gear? Take your friend for a drive to a pet friendly store for a nice stroll in a new, stimulating environment. They get the experience of a car ride, socialization to new people and places and some quality bonding time with you. Hit up Whyte Avenue where many stores welcome leashed pets, and have water dishes out on hot days. Swing by a drive through for a Pupachino from Starbucks, a plain Timbit from Timmies, or a lick of plain ice cream from Dairy Queen. Who says we’re the only ones who enjoy a treat now and then?
Dog Parks: For dogs that are social butterflies and have a good recall, dog parks are a ton of fun. We are blessed to have some amazing off leash zones in the Edmonton area. Lacombe Park Lake is always popular, especially with the opportunity for swimming. Buena Vista and Terwilligar dog parks have some lovely trails as well as access to the water. Cpl. Jim Galloway Memorial Off Leash Area in Spruce Grove and the Morinville off leash area are both fully fenced with separate areas for big and small dogs. St. Albert and Edmonton have amazing trails for leash walking too. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, consider a trip to Elk Island or Chickakoo Lake. Pack a picnic (including something tasty for your furry friend) and make a day of it!
Sniff ‘n Stroll: Leash walks close to home can be enriching as well. Dogs have an amazing sense of smell. Consider this: we have six million olfactory receptors in our noses while dogs can have up to 300 million! They learn so much from the world around them through their noses, is it any wonder they want to stop and sniff every blade of grass they come across? Once in a while, slow down your walk to your dogs pace. Let them explore with their nose as you follow their erratic trail and enjoy the scenery. Let them sniff that tree until their hearts content. Let them double back and check out the new smell that drifted by. Even if it’s just a portion of your walk, your dog will thank you for it!
Don’t be afraid to step out of your routine and try new things when it comes to canine enrichment. The result is a happier, healthier and mentally stimulated companion. The “paw”sibilities are endless!