Ep. 13: Enrichment for Puppies with Christine Young

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Today we’re talking to Christine Young. Christine is CPDT-KA certified trainer & dog lifestyle expert with over 20 years experience with dogs and horses. 

Christine is here to talk to us about the importance of enrichment for your puppies. 

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Show Notes

What is enrichment?

  • Enrichment is beyond food toys and puzzles
  • Just about anything you do with your puppy can be enrichment
  • Training is enrichment 
  • It is easy to overdo it, so be mindful that your puppy is allowed to relax without enrichment too 

When most people think of enrichment, they think of food toys. What other options might exist?

  • Flirt poles
  • Decompression walks
  • Tearing cardboard 
  • Pulling paper out of cups to get treats
  • Nosework classes or teaching your dog to find your keys, phones, etc.

How does chewing and licking help a puppy relax or learn life skills?

Does giving your puppy an outlet for chewing make them want to chew more?

  • It teaches them to use their teeth appropriately 
    • Use a braided fleece tug toy 
  • If you provide them with appropriate things to dig, they aren’t going to tear your couch apart
  • As owners, we limit their lifestyle just by having them as pets. We need to be able to meet their needs. 

Are there breed-specific enrichment ideas that you recommend or like?

  • Parkour
  • Water sports or water activities like the beach or the sprinkler 
    • Be mindful how much water they are drinking
  • Snuffle parks 

Where can people find more enrichment ideas?

Where can you find Christine Young:

2 thoughts on “Ep. 13: Enrichment for Puppies with Christine Young”

  1. After listening to this episode, I am curious about figuring out the “right” amount of enrichment. My almost 6-month old border puppy gets a ton of enrichment (lots of types of walks on and off leash, tons of play, stuffed frozen kongs, licki mats, food puzzles, snuffle mats, etc.) and we train tricks, nosework, and canine fitness (so agree with Christine that dogs just love this kind of “work”!) together. He is not my first border (although he is my first puppy) but he is unbelievably curious and engaged in a way my more adult rescue borders never were. My current problem is that he feels like “bottomless pit” when it comes to enrichment and engagement, and he really struggles to settle (in his crate, on his mat, etc.) despite an immense amount of reinforcement. How do I know if I am creating an enrichment addict (or as my trainer put it today a “mental athlete”) vs. just providing him with outlets for his innate mental and physical energy?

    Also, totally joining the Patreon today! This podcast has helped me so much!

    • Hi Caroline! What great questions! I rely on the structured routine outlined in our episode with Sarah Dixon to help keep an eye on enrichment; if my puppy is getting plenty of sleep and can settle without it, I’m happy. But I also don’t mind a bit of a “junkie” mentality in my dog. One thing that helps me is to think about the FUNCTION of your enrichment. If you’re just giving it for fun constantly when perhaps your puppy could/should settle on her own and nap, that may be an issue. But when you just need help meeting your puppy’s chewing/chasing/licking type needs, I would go ahead! I’ll have to keep thinking about this, it’s SO individual from dog to dog.


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