Imagine what it’s like for them…

Enrichment is:

  • An on-going process, not a single object or event
  • Only enriching if the animal chooses to interact with it or is affected positively by it
  • Specific to the dog based on its assessment (See Animal Assessment)
For example, when providing a dog with a toy, if the particular toy is of no interest to the dog, or the kennel is too small for the dog to engage in play behaviour, then it can not be considered enriching.


  • Improving the quality of life for the dogs
  • Helping the dogs present themselves better when potential adopters visit the Centre
  • Making efficient use of a tight budget
Before planning your enrichment program, use the MAKE A PLAN process to assess your dogfor safety, skills and personality. This will help you determine what types of enrichment items and activities will benefit the individual dog. Ultimately, using the MAKE A PLAN process to create and maintain an enrichment schedule will provide structure and save time and effort. A complete daily enrichment program includes all opportunities for enriching the animal’s life. It would incorporate a combination of sensory, physical, environmental, cognitive and social activities.
See Sample Enrichment Schedule Variety is the key to successful enrichment in order to keep things interesting for all canines. Modest but pleasant changes in the dog’s environment help prevent dogs from becoming at-risk behaviorally during their stay at the animal centre.
It is not possible to use every single enrichment activity listed in this section. However, choosing one or two enrichment activities from each category will ensure that the dogs in your care are stimulated in a variety of ways. This chart is an example of a selection of activities, how you might use these and potential benefits.
Activity Frequency Type of Stimulation Especially Good For: Personnel Required Notes
Classical music Daily but not continuously throughout the day Auditory All dogs Staff or volunteer to change the CDs Bird song CDs are also good; check out used CD stores for inexpensive choices; vary when music is played and choose music that doesn\'t increase vocal behaviour
A different scent – indoor or outdoor kennel Daily Olfactory Scent hounds, but almost all dogs will engage with olfactory stimulation Staff or volunteers to distribute Can be introduced during daily cleaning; use diluted cooking extracts (vanilla, almond, etc), sweet spices; buy in bulk from warehouse stores
Exercise yard; weather permitting Daily Olfactory/ Tactile Social High-energy dogs Staff/Trained volunteers Dogs who are not dog-aggressive can play in the yard in pairs or groups
Exercise in a yard with a person, playing ball, exploring Daily Social/Tactile, Cognitive/ Olfactory All dogs, especially high-energy dogs Staff/Trained volunteers Toys, structures to play on/around, digging areas, scents add interest to the space
Rotation of toys See Magic Toy Box Daily (or more) Cognitive/ Tactile All dogs Staff or volunteers to distribute can be introduced during daily cleaning, try and include puzzle toys
Filled KONG® End of day Oral All dogs, especially heavy chewers Staff or volunteers to distribute, volunteers to prep Kong® products of sizes appropriate for the dogs; fun foods to stuff in them ( applesauce, cottage cheese/cream cheese, canned&dry dog food, and low residue food for those that can’t have the others)
Paper rolls with a few treats Twice Weekly Oral/Cognitive All Dogs Staff or volunteers to distribute, volunteers to prep Use empty paper-towel and toilet paper rolls, small dry treats/kibble
Feed using a KONG® or other food dispensing toys. Daily/ one meal Oral/Cognitive All dogs, especially heavy chewers Staff or volunteers to distribute, volunteers to prep KONG® products of appropriate sizes, for daily meals
Splash Works As weather permits Physical/ Cognitive Active dogs who like water Staff or volunteers to distribute, volunteers to prep Kiddie Pools filled with water/outdoor kennel or play yard/floating toys
In Kennel Reading Daily Social All dogs, especially shy or fearful dogs Staff or volunteers A good book and a person to read it
Grooming Once per week Social All dogs Staff of volunteers A variety of brushes and combs
For a printable version see Sample of a selection of Daily Enrichment Activities