Non-Food Enrichment Activities

Sometimes it isn’t an option to include food in enrichment. This can be the case for dogs on strict diets, or for dogs that aren’t overly food-motivated or hungry. In these instances, try one of these 10 enrichment activities around the house or outdoors. 

Hide & Seek

Dogs can be like children in that they thrive on the simple fun pleasures of life. Taking time to play hide and seek with your canine companion can nurture this need and offer an opportunity to bond. 

Begin by placing your dog in a “stay.” Go and find a simple place to hide in the room. Release your dog! Most dogs will gleefully run to you to find out what you’re doing. Over time, a cue like “find me” can be added, and the difficulty of hiding places may increase.

Decompression Walks

Decompression walks, or calm walks with endless opportunities to sniff, are grounding and offer time for a dog to do what a dog does best– sniff everything. Consider putting a harness on your dog and attach her to a long line if the area is safe. Give her space to roam where she pleases.



DIY Obstacle Course

Use everyday objects to create a fun and interactive course. Broomsticks can be propped up for jumps, tunnels can be made from cardboard boxes, and hula hoops can serve as tire jumps. Get creative! 

Cardboard Box

Something as simple as a cardboard box can provide different forms of fun depending on your dog’s preferences. Some dogs will tear it apart. Others may chew on it and shake pieces around in his mouth. It doesn’t matter what your dog does (as long as it is safe). The box is his to create his own party with!



A black dog in a turquoise harness sits in a cardboard box and faces the camera.

Dog-Friendly Stores & Parks

Taking your dog out to a local pet-friendly place offers her a chance to explore new smells, hear new sounds, see new sights, and perhaps even meet new people or animals! New places can be exhilarating for a dog with a standard routine. 

Yoga Balls 

For the herding dogs, or any dog that loves balls, toss a big ball out into the yard and see what your dog does. Some will herd the ball, others will nose it along with their snouts, and some might use it to play soccer with you! They also make egg-shaped balls for added fun and challenge.



Ball Pits

Take any type of ball, and fill a cardboard box, kiddie pool, or any sort of container, and give your dog a chance to romp around and play. 

Activity Cube

The customization options for this one are limitless! Start with some PVC pipes and connectors, and build a square or rectangle large enough to have your dog run freely under and around it. 

Dangle plush toys, tug toys, fun (and safe) recyclables like water bottles, or anything your dog finds fun, from the top rung of the activity square. The more the variety, the better!



Pools & Lakes

For any water-loving dog, something as simple as a small area of water can provide excitement. Stay on the look out for creeks and dog-friendly beaches, or fill a kiddie pool up at home. Be ready for splashing, swimming, jumping, and playing. Your dog may also like a sprinkler or a hose being sprayed. 

Dig Boxes

Dig boxes for your dog can be made from any outdoor container large enough to contain space for your dog to dig and play. It’s up to you whether you fill it with dirt, sand, or anything else! Encourage your dog to use the space by shallowly burying a favorite toy while your dog is watching. Diggers like hounds and terriers will love this space!



   By Lindsey Hazlett

 Busy Dog Trainer

Leave a Reply