The issue with enrichment | Weblog by K9 Professional and Steve Courtney Canine Coaching


Enrichment has develop into a time period that’s getting used prolifically within the canine world the previous couple of years. It’s like the most recent buzz phrase!

New pet house owners are inspired to seek out methods to make sure their puppies keep enriched, are by no means bored, and all the time have one thing available to maintain them stimulated.

Canine house owners with canines which can be anxious, damaging, reactive or have any variety of behaviourial or coaching points are informed to make sure their canine is given loads of enrichment significantly at occasions they could show undesirable behaviours.

Enrichment choices usually take the type of puzzle toys, licky mats, snuffle toys, lengthy lasting chews and meals shelling out toys.

Enrichment toys are well-liked for pups

There isn’t a query that enrichment is vital, and that these items might be actually helpful to have available – however they shouldn’t be used instead of giving a pup or canine efficient coaching.

I had one in all my canines at a specialist vet we’ve seen a couple of occasions lately and she or he informed me she had lately gotten a pet. She had taken it to the native pet class and was actually shocked to see how a lot had modified since she had final raised a pup. After I requested her what she meant, she informed me today every part was about “enrichment” – protecting a pet continuously entertained, however not really instructing pups methods to calm down and settle. Pups within the class got fixed stimulation within the type of licky mats, deal with shelling out toys and so on.

It could seem like pups are enjoyable whereas participating with these toys or lengthy lasting chews, but when they will solely ‘settle’ till they’ve completed consuming, they aren’t really studying methods to settle. They’re being distracted by the meals, and sooner or later you’ll both run out of meals, over feed them, or they get too full to need extra.

This actually matches up with one thing we’ve been seeing everyday in coaching and behavior instances at K9 Professional HQ.

Puppies and canines must study HOW to behave

We now have many purchasers who will come to us after months and generally years of coaching with different trainers the place they’ve been informed any time their canine might misbehave – say guests coming to the home, when round different canines, when they’re demanding consideration from the proprietor or received’t sit nonetheless and so on – to make use of enrichment. The canines leap throughout visitors? Distract them with an enrichment toy. The issue if their canine has anxiousness? An absence of enrichment. If the canine is a nuisance barker? They have to not have sufficient enrichment… I had one shopper who mentioned they might not presumably buy “yet one more bloody licky mat” as they already had dozens and had been being informed it nonetheless wasn’t sufficient to maintain their canine “enriched”.

In that case, the canine’s precise challenge was that it had been given far an excessive amount of freedom, no efficient coaching and had no guidelines and bounds at house. It had each potential fashion of enrichment toy obtainable to it however distracting it with fixed stimulus was not instructing the canine HOW they need to be behaving.

Distracting canines with fixed stimulus isn’t instructing the canine HOW they need to be behaving.

Funnily sufficient, I had skilled an analogous challenge a few years in the past with one in all my very own canines, although this was earlier than enrichment toys had been as obtainable as they’re immediately. About 16 years in the past I had a model new Beagle pet who I took to a pet faculty run by an expert coach. These of you who’ve been following K9 Professional for some time will acknowledge this pup as Daisy “The Evil Beagle” who, all through her life, labored REALLY exhausting to earn her nick title.

Daisy “the Evil Beagle”

Daisy was a really full on little pet who had an opinion on every part. In contrast to the opposite puppies within the class, she couldn’t “settle” on her mat, she would develop into simply pissed off and lunge and bark desirous to play with the opposite pups. She might study methods simply however as quickly because the meals disappeared she would instantly disengage, desirous to go off and sniff every part and eat the opposite puppies treats.

The coach didn’t know what to do along with her so to get her to settle, she would give Daisy a chew (for instance a pigs ear) to eat on her mat. Daisy could be quiet whereas she ate after which the second she completed consuming… “AROOOOO” she’d bark and keep on till the coach would give her one other deal with to ‘preserve her settled’… You’ll be able to think about she acquired fairly proficient at shortly sprucing off every deal with and naturally, as a Beagle, by no means acquired bored with consuming extra.

This locked us right into a hostage fashion situation the place Daisy discovered to bark relentlessly till we’d shut her up with a bone or deal with to chew on, for not less than a 12 months, till I discovered a coach named Steve Courteny who was capable of assist us… 

One of many first issues we train pups is methods to chill on leash

Quick ahead to immediately, one other shopper I had are available lately was telling me how her buddies visited with their 8 month outdated Lab pup, and it was fairly naughty. Whereas her canine (who she took by way of our pet elevating course) laid right down to calm down subsequent to her whereas they had been having lunch outdoors, the Lab pup “couldn’t settle” or sit nonetheless at any level. Not in contrast to Daisy, the issue wasn’t that the pup couldn’t do it, however that it had by no means been taught HOW to.

One of many first issues I train new pet house owners is methods to get their pup to lie down and calm down on leash, so after they take them out and about to locations like cafes Pup understands methods to chill. I’ll train this with meals, however solely to strengthen good behaviours pups supply, to not distract them from being naughty. I’ve them on leash so house owners can discover ways to preserve the leash good and unfastened, relatively than restraining the pup and irritating them with a good leash.

Blaze and Drama know methods to swap off and calm down

Leaning methods to lie down and calm down in distracting locations is such a vital talent that’s so underrated, or is one thing that too many pet house owners simply anticipate their pup to work out on their very own or do naturally as they become older. Our expertise although tells us this isn’t usually the case!

When purchasers arrive to K9 Professional HQ they’re introduced into our coaching room and suggested to maintain their canine on leash. There are security causes for this when coping with human aggressive canines, however we request this largely so we will see how the canine responds when it restricted on the leash, which supplies us some perception into the connection between the canine and their proprietor.

Purchasers are suggested to sit down on the lounges in our seek the advice of room, with their canine, whereas we dive into the primary a part of the preliminary seek the advice of which is often spent answering questions and explaining studying idea.

I work with canines of all ages and I’d estimate simply 90% of the canines that arrive at K9 Professional HQ for his or her preliminary seek the advice of wrestle to calm down whereas their proprietor is sitting down, attempting to clarify the problems they’re having with their canine.

Many occasions the canines hit the top of the leash straining to get to us, or to smell and discover the room, or demand consideration from the house owners by pawing at them, leaping on them and even barking at them till the proprietor relents and provides affection and/or meals.

We meet canines day-after-day which can be reactive and pissed off on leash

Generally the canines get so pissed off at being held again when they’re stimulated by the atmosphere they begin vocalizing, lunging, barking and whinging.

Generally, the canine can behave itself if the proprietor offers it one thing to chew on, or a gentle stream of meals treats. However the second this runs out, the canine is again to demanding behaviours.


This provides us data that the canine often;

  • Can’t calm down when requested to
  • Lacks impulse management and fundamental manners
  • Experiences excessive frustration when held again on the leash
  • Is aware of they will ‘bribe’ their proprietor into giving them reinforcement like meals or consideration by hassling them or exhibiting sure unhealthy behaviours that the proprietor can’t ignore
  • The leash is a tether protecting the canine tied to the proprietor, with out it, the canine wouldn’t select to sit down with them

Usually occasions the very first thing I train the proprietor to show their canine is methods to get them to sit down and calm down so we will perform a dialog with out the canine turning into pissed off.

This looks as if such a minor factor however makes such a large distinction to the canine and the proprietor, who’s often extraordinarily overwhelmed by their canines behaviour.

Giving canines enrichment of their atmosphere is vital, however equally if no more vital is instructing them methods to calm down and self settle while not having fixed stimulus.

This isn’t an issue with enrichment toys, or utilizing meals in coaching, as we promote a lot of enrichment toys and use meals in coaching day-after-day. However when the main target shifts too closely in a single course, we will create a complete vary of different issues. 

As all the time we’d love to listen to your ideas within the feedback under!



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