World Animal Enrichment Day

Categories:Dog Mom Daily
Kimberly, creator of Canine Crazies and Victoria, writer and story teller
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Canine Crazies snuffle mats are made with a thick rubber mat fleece strips to create a grass like effect for hunting!

Animal enrichment has a deep meaning to Canine Crazies. One of the very first things I made for my girls was a snuffle mat! As the beagle aged, she couldn’t hear or see. Ohhh but that nose! She unstoppable. With the advice of her vet, to keep her mind sharp he recommended dog enrichment. Me being me, I read everything I could and learned the value.

With the help of YouTube and Google,  I created a snuffle mat from fleece strips and a rubber mat just for my girl. I watched as she jumped for joy even at her old age anytime I brought the mat out. By scattering small treats within the fabric “bush like” design, the toy exercised her brain.  The husky however was less than enthusiastic. She just wanted to sleep on it. haha. Given her destructive nature, she needed something to stimulate her brain too! So,  I decided to use a similar concept using caged JW Hol-ee roller ball  so I could toss it in the air to make it more engaging and fun. Adding fleece strips also created more of a challenge for her.

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Beagle girl loved her mat to help her stay young at heart ♥

Snuffle toys were my live saver during COVID. Although I have expanded our product line to collars and leashes, the inspiration behind Canine Crazies was built around enrichment and handmade dog toys. Crafting for canines isn’t just about making cute adorable doggie goodness. It’s also about bringing happiness and improving the quality of life to dogs.

History of World Animal Enrichment Day

The founder of World Animal Enrichment Day is Sara Jane White is an animal behaviorist, trainer, enrichment expert and owner Ruffle Snuffle For the last 30 years, her work has been featured in several international, national and local sources of media and has worked with several known animal organizations and known trainers such as the RSPCA and Victoria Stilwell.  She works with a team of hand-makers in the UK to design and craft snuffle mats, snuffle cubes and various other enrichment toys for dogs, cats and other animals alike. She shares her experiences with animal training and behavior.  White founded World Animal Enrichment Day, to allow pet owners to share ideas and build stronger bonds with their pets.

What exactly is Animal Enrichment?

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I think I smell something yummy in here!

According to White, ‘’Animal enrichment is the process of providing animals with mental and physical stimulation to enhance their well-being and quality of life by allowing them to express their natural behaviors. Think of enrichment like the activities we humans do. Whether it is a hobby like reading, playing games or creating art, or engaging in social gatherings, whether it would be your job or hanging out with friends, we love having something to do! No one likes to sit in a box and do nothing!

Animals are the exact same. Whether they are dogs, cats, reptiles, fish, birds, horses or even the wild animals you would see at zoos, enrichment allows animals to stay happy, healthy and allows them to make choices and control their environment. This is especially important for animals that are kept in zoos since they are kept in captivity. An ideal zoo simulates the life of an animal if it was still living in the wild. By providing enrichment, it creates a dynamic environment that is interesting and encourages the animal to preform natural behaviors. Not only that but enrichment decreases the chance for developing health problems and allows the animal to be easily cared and handled. By providing the physical and psychological needs, enrichment provides a win-win situation for both animals and their caretakers!

What are the types of Animal Enrichment?

🐾 Environmental – Having enclosures that are large and have various objects to climb, bury, hide or run in allows the animal to explore their environment in new ways. Many zookeepers and exotic pet owners do this by adding different climbing perches (such as branches or treehouses), swings, ropes, pools, plants, rocks or different substrate. Some zookeepers and exotic pet owners may provide compatible animals into their enclosures to stimulate fully-fledged ecosystems! One such cool example is where exotic pet owner Dr. Plants, used a tank filled with various plants and animals to create a massive ecosystem!  You can even provide habitat needs for domesticated pets by providing different beddings, perches, pools and even cat trees!

🐾 Social – Like humans, many social animals need others to survive! Many social zoo animals such as gazelle, elephants, meerkats and monkeys will have multiple individuals kept in an enclosure allowing them to engage with others. Stuffed animals may also be used to provide youngsters that have been isolated from their mothers, providing them the comfort they need. For domesticated animals such as dogs, not only would they be socially enriched by humans but dog parks are used to allow them to engage with others of their kind. Often times whenever they are puppies, providing social enrichment is vital for their growth! Especially if you want to have a dog that can get along with other humans but also other animals!

🐾 Cognitive – Mental stimulation plays an important role in enrichment. Pet and Zoo keepers provide this mental stimulation through training or providing puzzles to allow animals to problem-solve. Operant conditioning is often used in training, where a behavior is encouraged using positive reinforcements such as food, praise and toys. This allows animals, especially for domesticated animals, to build trust and bond with humans. Some animals, who were bred for work, use training as a form of enrichment for it gives them a ‘’job’’ to do. Zoo keepers and animal researchers may use puzzles to research on aspects of animals that are not as understood such as how lizards see color or how an elephant’s memory is understood.

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Poodle girl is so happy with her new ball!

🐾 Nutritional – Following up on cognitive enrichment, food is often used as a reinforcement for training and problem solving. This may range based on the animal’s forging habits. Zoos may hide food in different areas around the enclosure or in puzzle boxes, or suspended by rope, encouraging animals to work for their food as they do in the wild. You can even do this with your own pets using snuffle-toys, Kong toys, food puzzles and even games! . One can also use food as a form of enrichment by adding small changes in how it is offered such as freezing them in ice during the summer months in order to cool down. Turtle owner The Fish Whisper provided enrichment for his turtles by freezing fish and fruit into Turtle Popsicles

🐾 Sensory – Exposure to different sights, smells, sounds, tastes and textures provide animals with sensory enrichment. This may range from changing bits of their diet (as long as it still retains to what they naturally eat) to adding spices and herbs in enclosures to let them investigate. One of the most common spices used is catnip! We do know that domestic cats love the stuff but one can use a small amount of it with dogs (just don’t give them cat toys or else they will choke!) and some zoos even tested it with wild cats! Music, ‘’Animal TV’’ and animal vocalizations are also used, allowing animals experience noises that are calming or familiar. Toys such as scratching posts, bells, baby toys, balls, and stuffed animals have animals experience different textures and sounds and colors, providing them sensory enrichment.

How can dogs benefit from Animal Enrichment?

Just like their wild counterparts, dogs are social animals, that work together, or with humans, on order to survive. While they do not need to work to survive as much anymore, keeping your dog engaged will help their physical and mental well-being. Enrichment not only helps prevent boredom to your dog but can also reduce stress and unwanted destructive behaviors. Enrichment is especially used to help puppies grow, help dogs bond with their owners but also makes them more appealing for adoption. Here are just a few out of many ways to help you provide enrichment for your dog:

🐾  Doggy Games – One way to engage with your dog is to play ‘’Find it!’’ games. Whether it is a scavenger hunt where they find scattered treats or hide and seek your dog would be able to use their powerful noses to sniff out and find the treat or you. Other simple games such as fetch helps dogs engage in their chase behavior, chasing down and sometimes retrieving their favorite toys. One of our favorite games every easter is a doggie easter egg hunt!

🐾  Dig Pits – Does your dog enjoy digging but you don’t want them to ruin the yard? Just take a kiddie pool or sandpit container and fill it with kid-safe sand. Then designate it to a corner in your mind you do not mind dirt in and build a dig pit for your dog. You can bury your dog’s favorite plastic toys and treats and encourage them by getting involved and helping them uncover their treasures. You can also redirect your dog to the dig pit if they end up digging in an inappropriate area. By providing a dig pit, your dog can engage in their natural behavior of digging without the worry of destruction.

🐾  Walks and Sniffaris – Walks do not just provide physical exercise for your dog. Whenever you take your dog out, they will be exposed to new sights, smells and sounds. Certain places such as beaches, pet-friendly stores and parks allow dogs to engage with other humans and dogs alike. If your dog is inactive or old, one leisure way to bring your dog out is taking them to a Sniffaris All it takes is a long lead, some treats and going to your favorite dog friendly park. What makes it different from regular parks is that rather than you directing the dog on where to go, Sniffaris allow dogs to walk at their own pace, letting them immerse themselves in their surroundings, never having the worry to overexert themselves. If your dog ventures too far, a simple ‘’Come!’’ command followed by a treat can allow your dog to come back to you.

🐾 Bubbles! – Bubbles are a rather fun addition to enrich a dog’s life! They expose the dog to new senses and allow them to watch, chase, sniff and bite at the bubbles. Some bubble brands create flavored bubbles specifically for dogs which would have various enjoyable flavors such as bacon, peanut butter, cheese or steak!

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Mama, why aren’t all the balls for me? They are so much fun!

🐾 Snuffle toys – snuffle toys, whether they are mats, cubes, balls or any sort of fun shape, are beneficial toys that can keep your dog mentally stimulated. By scattering small treats hidden within the fabric ‘’bush-like’’ design, the toys allow dogs to play a ‘’Find it!’’ game, using their noses to engage in their foraging instincts, and sniff out the treats. They are a popular form of canine enrichment, keeping anxious and hyperactive dogs distracted whenever their owners are away or busy, slow down meals for fast eaters and even prevent canine dementia!

However one would choose to celebrate this day, whether it would be watching elephants feed from a suspended food dispenser, letting your cat play with a catnip toy, or taking your dog to a long stroll, it is nice to be grateful for this day which celebrates the bonding between animals and humans by enriching their lives.

To purchase Canine Crazies doggie enrichment toys please visit 

Canine Crazies Snuffle Balls 

Canine Crazies Snuffle Mats

If you would like a specific pattern or colors, custom orders are always welcomed! Please feel free to reach out on Instagram, Facebook or 

About the Author
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Dog Mom, traveler, foodie and canine crafter. Kimberly is dedicated to enriching the lives of all dogs. She is inspired by her Two Idiot Balls of Fluff, two snow dogs, Bear and Koda, Kimberly is passionate about sharing with you all the things she learned raising her fur babies.

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Victoria, writer and story teller
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Throughout her life with Autism, Victoria has a strong bond with the animals. Her love of creatures is her therapy and aid that guides her in communication. Her sketch work, digital art and short stories are all animal inspired. Creative and visionary, she's enjoys imagining a world where human and animals are one. As a co-author, researcher and lead editor for Canine Crazies, she indulges in learning more about the amazing world of canines.

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