Peek Into The Pack Blog

Do-it-Yourself Enrichment at Home

March 26, 2024

We often see enrichment in sanctuaries and zoos, but it can also be utilized for pets at home! In fact, most pet owners provide their animals enrichment without even realizing it. Playing with pets and taking them on walks are examples of enrichment you’re probably doing at home, but we want to show you other ways to enrich your animals and add some variety to their lives.

Kiara with a box enrichment filled with toys and treats

Enrichment stimulates an animal’s mind, body, and senses, as it’s important for them to have an outlet for energy, and different ways to learn and problem-solve. That way, animals can avoid becoming bored and have a fulfilling life. As long as it’s safe for the animals, enrichment is limited only to the imagination. It can be the smallest thing, like hiding a treat in your house for your cat to find, or building an elaborate obstacle course for your dog in the backyard. There are many different ways to categorize types of enrichment. Here at Wild Spirit, we use the following categories: Food, Sensory (relating to all senses), Environmental (rocks, stumps, toys), Cognitive (puzzles), Social (training, socializing), and Walk enrichment.

Today’s example of enrichment you can do at home utilizes toilet paper or paper towel rolls. The types of animals you can do this enrichment with include (but is certainly not limited to) dogs, cats, birds, rodents, and reptiles. For this enrichment you can spray pet-safe scents (perfume, cologne, or essential oil sprays) on the rolls and/or fill them with treats or foods that are safe for animals. The handy thing about this enrichment is that it’s easy to collect the toilet paper or paper towel rolls. It’s also likely that you already have treats at home that you can fill them with. The cool thing about enrichment is you can also use the animal’s regular diet instead of treats, thus adding a little fun to meal times.

Some examples of the cardboard roll enrichment we do here at the

Some Cardboard Roll Ideas Left Open – For a shy or old animal that needs an easy first win. The food in the tube will easily be knocked out when the animal touches the roll. You can even have the treat sticking out of the tube for them to see i they’re nervous of new objects. This will help them get used to the enrichment and find it rewarding instead of scary.

Folded – Add in any pet-safe spices or food and fold
both ends in.

Tootsie Roll™ or wrapped in paper – Wrap the roll in
paper (newspaper, cardstock, tissue paper, etc.) and
stuff the ends of the paper into the roll, or twist the
ends of the paper like a candy wrapper.

Decorated – This can be done to any of the above
options using pet-safe markers, paints, etc. Feel free to
draw on the cardboard or paper any design you would like.

Enrichment is important for any animal living under human care, even our pets at home, so we hope you’ll enjoy trying this with your pets, and letting your imagination run wild! Additionally, we hope to continue sharing examples of pet-friendly enrichment in each of our Howling Reporters, so stay tuned for more fun activities, and feel free to let us know how they go!

If you would like to support Wild Spirit’s enrichment endeavors, you can donate daily enrichments to your favorite rescue by clicking here! Alternatively, you can also donate a seasonal enrichment here!

Irwin with a oatmeal cookie

Wild Spirit Animal Safe Oatmeal Cookie Recipe (Makes about 12 cookies)
Cookie ingredients:
– 5 cups of oatmeal (made with water and oats)
– 4 oz of peanut butter
– 1/4 cup melted coconut oil

Frosting ingredients:
– 1 cup water
– 1 ¼ cups wheat flour
– Add a little extra flour or water to get your desired decorating consistency

Prepare the oatmeal, then add the peanut butter and melted coconut oil. Mold the “dough” into your choice of shapes on a baking sheet and freeze for 1 hour, or until the cookies have hardened.
Mix the water and flour into a bowl and add pet-safe food coloring, if desired. Remove cookies from the freezer and frost. Place them back into the freezer for 1 hour, or until the frosting has hardened. Cookies can be given straight from the freezer. Enjoy!

Article by Danielle Steakley, Enrichment Coordinator and Animal Care Specialist at Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary


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