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A Dog's Emotional Cup: How to Enrich Your Dog's Life
Jul 29, 2020

As devoted dog lovers, we are always seeking ways to enrich the lives of our pets. Besides food, water, and bathroom breaks, dogs require a lot more enrichment to satisfy natural instincts and urges such as sniffing, chewing, and barking. While training dogs to be good house pets, we have a tendency to restrain them from barking out the window and chewing on furniture. Our pups still require release of what’s natural to them through appropriate mediums to chew, dig, and forage. The professional dog trainer, Sarah Owings, describes daily requirements and activities as “what fills” and “what empties” a “dog’s emotional cup.” 

Illustration Source: Lili Chin

Here are some appropriate releases for your furbaby to do “dog things” such as socializing, sniffing, chewing, foraging, barking, digging, and playing.

  1. Play Dates or Dog Park

Socializing at the dog park or with friends is a way for dogs to interact with furbabies like them, using their instincts to play and tire themselves out. Social isolation can be extremely draining for dogs, leading to grumpiness and aggression towards dogs when they see them.

  1. Sensory Release

Swimming pools filled with dirt or leaves for digging, water for splashing and balls for playing, can give your dog a variety of sensory experiences as the seasons pass. This concept also gives you a way to focus your dog’s energy if they are prone to digging in your yard. You can also focus on nose work activities: hiding treats around the house or tossing kibble into your backyard to engage your dog’s sense of smell.

  1. Toys and Puzzles

A dog food puzzle toy is a toy constructed to hold food and treats in various hiding places, such as a Kong toy or snuffle mat. Providing your dog's meal in an interactive toy can give him or her a hobby to pass the time and bring out your dog’s instinct to burrow. The layers of fabric in a snuffle mat require them digging their nose around, sniffing, and digging.

  1. Training

Teaching your pup something new like a new trick is the perfect way to create mental stimulation. A training session is more certain to fulfill and tire out a pup than physical exercise.

The full podcast, “A Dog’s Emotional Cup,” by professional dog trainer, Sarah Owings, is available below:


Cog-Dog Radio · A Dog's Emotional Cup with Sarah Owings