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Being of Sound Mind and Body

May 24, 2021

I have had dogs all my life, literally all my life, I have had bird dogs, and hound dogs and herding dogs and toy dogs. I have had big dogs, little dogs, crazy dogs, and lazy dogs, and every single one of them a fantastic dog.

I have been involved in dog sports for almost 25 years so I have been doing things with my dogs for a long time but it has only been the last few years that I started thinking about Canine Enrichment and about what my dogs do and think about all day.  It became very clear to me during the pandemic lockdown that I could be offering my dogs an even better life than the spoiled dog life that they live.

The lovely Bailey at 12+

Our JeffJeff was born on 5/5/2020 at the height of the Corona Lockdown and I worried a lot about his socialization, he was a singleton puppy stuck at home with his momma and 6 senior dogs.  How was I going to make sure this puppy got what he needed to start life as a well-rounded puppy. Thankfully there were lots of resources available online, PuppyCulture* had a timely course on raising singleton puppies, University and the team at Avidog* did a wonderful series of online classes about age-appropriate socialization called Savvy Socialization and we did a Puppy Jump Start class virtually through our training partners and instructors at Canine Country Academy (CCA).  When things opened up a bit we were able to go to Lowes and our favorite store Tractor Supply Company and ride around in the buggy. He became a champ at puppy playgroup at both CCA and Atlanta Obedience club (AOC) and eventually got to attend beginning classes at both places and earned his first AKC certificate as an AKC STAR puppy!

Puppy Play Group at CCA
First trip to Tractor Supply

During his baby puppyhood, we started on enrichment, different toys and activity centers, ramps, surfaces, and platforms, and of course his beloved baby slide.  As he got older we did puzzles and snufflemats and ball pits.  I am proud to say he has a great temperament and is a smart brave boy with an outstanding outlook on life and his own social media fans.

JeffJeff loves his slide
IKEA toys that make good sniffy toys

All of that sort of lead into what was I doing for the big dogs.  Like almost all Cardigans the senior crowd (and Cali) are strongly motivated by food and my dogs particularly enjoy fruits and veg.  Anyone who has hung around our Solstice site has seen many photos of the infamous Watermelon Sundays.  We have expanded on that with the “enrichment zone”.  We have a high deck and we toss fruit and Veg off the deck into the grass zone and sniffing and eating commence (they look like grazing cows).  The Enrichment zone gives the dogs a reason to go out and sniff.  Sniffing really engages their brains and to find the treats they not only have to use their senses but it is a competition too. We are currently working on our Sensory Garden too, we are getting lots of ideas from the Facebook groups Canine Enrichment and Sensory Gardens for Dogs.  We have our slide and kiddy pool, agility tunnel and we recently cut down a tree so adding some logs as soon as we can get them in position and I am working on a scentwall to use for fun and Scentwork training.  

The Enrichment zone
A bigger Slide
Tunnel peekaboo

Inside we use treats and chews, bones and stuffed Kongs, lickimats, etc for self-entertaining as well as assorted squeakies and tugs.  JeffJeff and Cali mostly play with the toys.  Banner does love to carry around a soft toy so we always have something causing a trip hazard on the floor.  JeffJeff loves his squirrel tree and hedgehog log where he gets to pull the critters out of their dens.  Of course, most of what they do during work from home time is engage with their dog beds all around my office. 

Squirrel tower
Hedgehog log

All of the Senior dogs are retired show Champions so they spent their younger years going out and about, everyone except sweet Banner (who is the ultimate stay-at-home girl) has some sort of working title so training has always been part of their lives.  We try to keep it up but admittedly it doesn’t get done as much as I would like.  We don’t use our doggy gym equipment enough either.  As an AKC Level 1 Fitness instructor, I am very lazy with doing fitness exercises with my dogs.  Like most fitness things I find more interesting things to do, bad owner!

Keeping my pack of sound mind and body has become much more than good nutrition and veterinary care but the everyday conscious effort to engage their minds and be present in their lives, they are so much more than just background and they deserve to be front and center.

Hope this gave you some ideas and resources for doggy engagement.

Puppy Culture –

Avidog   –

Canine Country Academy –

Atlanta Obedience Club –

Resources:  Facebook Groups – Canine Enrichment and Sensory Gardens for Dogs

Books:  Canine Enrichment the book your dog needs you to read by Shay Kelly 

Toys and Puzzles:

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