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Pet Enrichment 101

Article by
Emily McCullor

Friday, Jan 12

Enrichment is as important to your pet as physical activity is. While physical activity exercises the body, enrichment exercises your pet's mind. Don't think of enrichment as a "bonus" for your pet, but as something necessary to their overall wellness. 

Besides serving as a great boredom buster, enrichment toys can serve as an essential part of their mental health. It's also a positive way to discourage behavioral problems.

In a shelter setting, where our pets typically experience a higher level of stress, enrichment is a crucial part of the many services we offer our pets at the Humane Society of NWPA. 

Today, our shelter staff spent some time working on enrichment for our dogs and cats. 


Our goal with our shelter dogs is to have them think of their kennels as a safe place. So in order to reinforce that positive association, half of our staff grabbed toys and treats and spent time sitting in our dogs' kennels, practicing commands, playing, and simply loving them.

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The other half of our staff gathered in our education room with discarded cardboard boxes and a jar of scissors to make some DIY cat scratching toys. This is a quick and easy project that can provide hours and hours of entertainment. We cut strips of cardboard and then stacked them and glued them together (we used non-toxic Elmer's Glue). After the glue dried, the scratch toys were sprinkled with loose catnip and then distributed to our shelter cats.

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The result of the enrichment was exactly what we were going for. We saw countless wagging tails of the happy dogs enjoying their human companionship. We saw purring cats scratching at and rubbing their faces on the scratch toys.

As a staff, we love the time we get to devote our undivided attention to our pets and provide them positive experiences that enhance their overall well being.


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You can create an endless supply of enrichment toys for your pets for minimal to no cost. Check out our Pinterest page for some ideas that we've collected, or try one of your own. Most of all, enjoy the quality time with your pet.

Do you have a "go-to" form of enrichment that your pet really enjoys? Share your ideas with us on our Facebook page!