Change is scary but everyone loves a shiny new thing. We work hard to buy the new car, the new house, or go on vacation to a new place. The purchase process or travel is stressful, but we keep doing it because of the appeal of the new thing. Having a new car will be worth all this trouble. Getting to the destination will be worth the time in the airport. This is a larger example for the picture I am painting but stay with me.
Your dog also enjoys the novelty of new experiences. Going to a new park, or new training center helps them create more positive experiences with the outside world. Even new toys help them feel less stressed. We tend to get into the habit of doing the same things with our dogs, going to the same parks, buying the same type of toys, having the same routine each day.
Routine and structured activities are important for your dog but how can you add something new into the day?
Visit a new place
If you have fallen into the routine of walking your dog in the same place every day (or week. I don’t walk my dogs everyday) Then do a quick google search for other parks in your area. Even going to a grassy area near a church or school would be incredibly exciting for your dog. Most neighborhoods have small playgrounds with a field to do a great sniffy decompression walk. If you want to make a day of it then look for a larger park a little farther away. The short trip and a long walk is a great mini vacation for the whole family.
Add new enrichment toys or puzzles
Just because your dog figures out puzzles quickly, doesn’t mean they are not enjoyable. We know how to do a crossword puzzle, but we still enjoy doing them. Ordering a new puzzle to add to your routine, or even making the ones you have more difficult by putting them in a box or putting them under a blanket. Create new puzzles for your dog by hiding things (or yourself) around the house and having them use their nose to search.
Novelty is important because it also helps your dog build confidence. These seemingly meaningless puzzles help show your dog that life is weird, and weird is not scary. It allows them to work through the challenges in the puzzles so they are more resilient when the weird stuff happens in life.
What can you do this week to add some novelty to your dog’s life?