Why making time for playtime and enrichment everyday is so important!

Do you want to reduce some of those unwanted behaviours your puppy and dog engages in such as barking, inappropriate chewing or over-excitement?
Would you like to help your dog chill-out, be calmer and able to self soothe?   How about giving their "feelgood" and confidence a boost?

Then make time for playtime and enrichment everyday with our super easy ideas and tips!

Get your free A to Z guide 

It's packed with information and inspiration for quick, cheap and easy activities to boost your dog's feelgood and reduce unwanted behaviours.  The ideas in our A to Z guide can be done by anyone and will benefit all puppies and dogs!

#1 Make time for playing together

Play makes dogs and hoomans feel good!

Puppies and dogs learn more effectively through play and playing is an amazing tool for strengthening your relationship and bond through having fun together. Play sessions are bonding, fun, a physical and mental workout, a way of rewarding behaviours you want more of, and way of creating positive associations... they're also a great way for puppies to develop social skills.  Making playtime with you an important part of your daily interactions will help your dog learn and satisfies elements of their natural hard-wired instincts to:

Track - Stalk - Chase - Grab Bite - Shake - Kill Bite - Dissect - Eat

Over the years hoomans have enhanced or suppressed elements of this in order to create dogs to fulfil specific roles. So, terriers were bred to shake and kill vermin and collies bred to eye / stalk their flock and bloodhounds tracked things by following their noses.

Different types of play mimic different parts of the pattern, for example "tug gives the "grab bite" and shaking the cuddly toy the "shake".

Some breeds are pre-disposed to prefer certain bits of the pattern more than others, however all dogs are individuals so the key thing to remember is to find and play the games your dog loves!

#2 Playing tug

Play tug if your dog enjoys it (and it doesn't overarouse them) , but do it sensibly and with boundaries

Use slow and low down sideward movements to move the toy to prevent jumping up, grabbing and "dangling" - make sure that four paws are on the floor throughout and if arousal starts to escalate take a break and let things calm down. When playing let your dog win, release the "prey", re-engage them and restart the game.   Think about where you play it too, we only play when outside or designated "play spaces" indoors, not in the living room where we want our dogs to relax and chill out with us.

Our dogs love their Tug-e-nuff toys and they are a great way to supercharge your recall, drop and focus training!  We have so impressed with the quality and durability of them, that we have recently become a partner so that we can pass some great savings on to you.  As a Tug-e-nuff partner we have bagged you 10% off your first order, just use this special discount code at checkout!

  Tug-e-nuff toys are a family business based in the UK and have a great range of hand-finished, durable toys including:


#3 Let them sniff!

A dogs nose is a-ma-zing... and it's capabilities are truly mind boggling!

It is their most important sense and when they are using their nose it makes them happy and more optimistic. Getting your dog to use their nose is hugely important as this is the most natural behaviour in the world for your dog!

This short video will astound you - you'll understand why getting them sniffing is so important!

ingNosework games are super rewarding for all dogs including pups, oldies, dogs in recovery, anxious dogs, reactive dogs and over excited dogs. All breeds of dog, from pugs to pointers, can benefit and these activities really help to calm a dog, help them feel happier and tire them in a good way.  You can use your dog's dinner and build them easily into your daily routine - there are lots of benefits:

  • They are fun, rewarding and fulfil natural instincts
  • They help build up a dog's confidence and provide mental stimulation
  • They provide something positive to focus on around distractions
  • They provide a low impact activity suitable for all dogs
Teaching your dog to "find it" is super easy, quick and all dogs can get involved in this game!

#4 Ditch the feeding bowl...

You could use at least some of their daily food allowance  as rewards in training, in sniffing games, and for scatter feeds.  There are some great puzzle toys out there, but choose and use them carefully, taking care not to make things too challenging or cause frustration for your dog.  Aim to provide calming activities that help build up happy alone time, confidence and help your dog to chill out and self-soothe.   There are all sorts of feeding time activities that calm and gently tire pups and dogs in a good way, help them to self soothe and provides them with some lovely outlets for natural doggy behaviours which can help reduce unwanted behaviours.

Remember all dogs are individuals and will have personal preferences - one size doesn't fit all!

Scatter feeding is easy to do and doesn't cost a penny

 Scattering your dog's dinner is quick and easy and is a lovely calming activity for pups and dogs.

It has so many benefits for your dog, including:

Enabling natural foraging behaviour
Using your dog's mind and their nose
Building up frustration tolerance and confidence
Helping to relax your dog, settling them and reducing arousal levels
Occupying your dog with a "job"
Preventing boredom related behaviours
Releasing feel good chemicals in their brain
Giving them something positive to focus on and the opportunity to succeed

Include passive calming and soothing activities each day


Original Kongs are an awesome tool for dogs of all ages - they are great to chew, to stuff, to hide things in and to freeze too.  They come in a variety of sizes, strengths and even have ones for pups and for seniors.  

Visit the Kong website and other reputable websites for ideas for healthy stuffing recipes.

Benefits of stuffing a Kong include:

  • Stuffing a Kong will keep your dog busy & entertained
  • It helps slow down fast and furious feeders
  • Great for keeping a dog occupied with something positive while you are doing alternative activities and want them to hang out and chill
  • It gives them a "job" to do and provide lots of mental stimulation.

Lick mats

This is another fab way great of giving your dog a "hobby" and helping them kick back and relax doing something they love. They are cheap, easy to clean and there are loads of options for foods to smear onto them so are a good choice for dogs that are fed raw or wet food too!

Pablo and Pickle love their Butternut Box meals from their lick mats, especially the larger sized Buddy version They're just polishing of the remnants of their Butternut Box Pork This Way in the picture... find out more about Butternut Box and grab a discount.

Things to include in your play and enrichment toolkit:
Tug-e-nuff toys - use BLUEDOG at checkout to get 10% off

#5 Do some Happy Training!

Train your dog by playing games with them, train with a smile on your face and have fun together! 'Happy Training' is force-free and uses things that your dog loves to reward behaviours in order to strengthen them so you will get them again. It's great for giving your dog's brain a workout, helping them problem solve, build the value of being close to you and strengthening your relationship and understanding.

Trick training with your puppy or dog is pawsome

Trick training is awesome!

We love trick training! Trick training (well any training to be honest) is all about teamwork – you and your dog work together to learn something new. Choose tricks that are appropriate to your dog's age (avoid anything that put's pressure on a pup's developing joints), and level of fitness.

Trick training is great for:

  • Improving your dog’s ability to learn and try new things
  • Bonding and teaching your dog that it is great to learn with you
  • Reactive and anxious dogs and owners to spend time together doing something fun
  • Building up your dog's confidence and enabling your dog to succeed
  • Giving their brain a workout
  • Having fun together!

#6 Get them chewing

Chewing is awesome and "legal chewing" should be encouraged!

Did you know that puppies have around 4 hours worth of chewing in them a day, and because it floods the brain with calming chemicals, it's a great way for both puppies and dogs to self soothe and chill out. Not to mention providing pain relief for puppies when they are teething and helping keep teeth clean!

At all times make available a range of chew toys of different textures so that puppy can choose the one most appropriate for them at any particular time. These may include rope toys, Kongs, safe edible and non-edible chews and other appropriate toys. Always supervise and check chews and toys regularly for damage.

How to tackle unwanted puppy chewing

Puppies have absolutely no concept of what is allowed to chew and what is not, as far as they are concerned everything is a chew toy, help your puppy make good choices by making lots of different 'allowed' chew toys available to them, praise them for making good choices and redirect them when they choose something inappropriate.  Puppy proofing your house and garden to remove any "illegal chews', and restricting pup's movement if something cannot be removed is also key in preventing unwanted chewing.  


We aren't fans of ball throwers...not only does the fun happen 25m away from you but repetitive chasing and running can put a dog's body under incredible pressure.  Mentally it's not great either as it floods their body with adrenaline and can also trigger the release of the stress hormone cortisol.  

You might also be interested in...

Please read our Affiliate Disclosure regarding the products we review and feature.