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Elevate your dog's happiness and minimize their carbon print with these 5 DIY enrichment ideas

Updated: Apr 12, 2023

Dogs can get bored just like we do. When boredom strikes, paperwork takes a hike, and my puppies are ready for their close-up!

All hail the binge-watch marathon of my favorite show and the never-ending pet photo shoot! All jokes aside, we all know that keeping our minds and bodies active is important for our health, and science shows this is true for dogs, too.

When my dog Monsieur gets bored, he brings out his ultimate weapon - the staring contest! It's an epic battle of wills. We all recognize that special look in their eyes, the one that screams "I'm bored!". We also know that boredom can lead to unwanted behaviours like excessive barking, chewing, and jumping. That's where I come in with some great ideas on how to give your pooch healthy outlets for all those pent-up needs.

There are many ways you can add some stimulation into your dog’s world that don’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Check out these easy and green dog-guardian projects you can try this spring.

Make a pet bed out of your old clothes and pillows

Recycling your old clothes is a great way to give them a second life. Take an old sweater or something with a thicker material and turn it into a comfy pet bed. Here’s an easy tutorial to follow. Your dog will appreciatively be cozying up on a bed that smells like you!

Tie up your clothes for tug toys!

Here's a cool idea for those of you (like me) who don’t sew: grab those old jeans you've been meaning to donate and transform them into tug toys for your dog! If your dog is not a fan of tugging, you can even make some and donate them around you to dogs that love to tug (or your local shelter). It's a great way to brighten up their day and make tails wag all around!

Tugging is not only super fun, but it's also a great way to teach your dog impulse control through commands like sit-wait and drop-it. Plus, it's a safe way to expend all that pent-up energy. Just be mindful not to make any unnatural movements while playing, like lifting your pup off the ground or shaking their head in an upward and downward motion.

Build a cardboard box pet house

A few weeks ago, I received the great gift of a cat camper hideout at the Clicker Expo 2023. My two cats have been making the most out of it and keep engaging in a revised game of hide-and-seek that include zoomies around the house. But to be honest, they do the same when I keep big cardboard boxes around after a delivery, especially if I cut up some holes and tape a few boxes together.

A couple boxes might be all your pet needs for some exercise and entertainment. Get creative and make an “obstacle” course with hidden treats or cut it to make a cat bed! Different heights and sizes will help your dog use their body in new ways.

P.S. Dogs often like playing in cardboard boxes too, just bigger ones.

Create a DIY dog cave (small or medium dog)

Use an old t-shirt and a cardboard box to make dog (or cat) cave. Obtain a cardboard box that is spacious enough for your pup to fit in comfortably. Fold down the flaps on one side of the box, ensuring that the other sides are firmly secured. Drape an old t-shirt over the box, ensuring that the shirt's collar is covering the opening of the box. Position the box on its side, and your pet will have a delightful little hideout to explore. Treats might have to be used in order for your pup to explore it at first.

Make sure the t-shirt is a snug fit and won’t flip while your dog goes in or out and use as many treats as needed to introduce the cave, especially if your dog is a little fearful at first. You may want to add a pillow at the bottom for extra coziness and to add some weight so the box stays put.

Pick eco-friendly pet toy companies

Many dog and cat toy companies are paying close attention to their carbon pawprint these days. Two of my favorite eco-friendly companies are Planet Dog, which offers an amazing palette of mentally enriching dog toys that are refundable or exchangeable for up to 45 days after the sale, and the always-relevant Canadian company Earth Rated, which helps with the issue of snow melting and poop showing up on every Montreal sidewalk.

Dog parents have influence on the market by choosing to purchase products and services from environmentally responsible companies, which can encourage companies to adopt eco-friendly practices and shift towards sustainability. Checkout these other eco-friendly pet-toy companies listed on - West Paw and Kong are also some of my dog’s favorites companies!

Being eco-friendly is something that has become increasingly important to me in all areas of my life. Over the past few years, I've made a conscious effort to reduce my carbon footprint and live a more sustainable lifestyle. The slowdown caused by the pandemic in 2020 gave me the opportunity to slow down and prioritize the things that truly matter. For me, that meant reducing my consumption and supporting mindful companies that are committed to protecting our planet. As a result, I'm always on the lookout for businesses that share my values and are taking steps to minimize their impact on the environment.

PS – in an attempt to reduce my environmental print, I now offer online training sessions to help you and your dog progress – By reducing the need for transportation to attend in-person training sessions, you can help to reduce carbon emissions and minimize the environmental impact of the training sessions.


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