Guide Dogs encourages enrichment to boost dog mental health

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Author: Guide Dogs' Communications Team
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Dog complete a puzzle 1
Dog complete a puzzle 1

Guide Dogs encourages enrichment to boost dog mental health

Date:
Author: Guide Dogs' Communications Team

New research by Guide Dogs has revealed that 74% of the nation’s dogs show signs of having poor mental health, with 18% showing symptoms as often as weekly.


Dog putting a puzzle together

The most common signs of poor mental health for pups can include loss of appetite, destructiveness and low activity levels, as well as hyper-activity and lots of barking. A dog exhibiting these behaviours may be bored or frustrated and looking for something to interest them.  Only 36% of dog owners are able to spot the signs of poor canine mental health and only 24% admitting they didn’t even realise that a dog could suffer with poor mental health.  Canine enrichment activities, such as food-based puzzle toys, LickiMats, forging games, sensory activities and steady walks with lots of sniffing opportunities, could be the key to boosting a dog’s mood. On average, UK dog owners spend between 46 – 60 minutes per day looking to keep their dog stimulated. Guide Dogs advises that age and energy level decide the amount of stimulation a dog needs, but all owners should do canine enrichment activities little and often and think about quality, not quantity. Variety is key; doing something a bit different each day or mixing things up throughout the week is much more interesting for a dog.

Dog complete a puzzle 1

Chief Scientific Officer at Guide Dogs, Dr Helen Whiteside says, “It’s an outdated viewpoint to think that dogs just need a walk or two a day to be content. Without different forms of mental stimulation, dogs can begin to show signs of behavioural issues, such as anxiety and frustration, which can have a huge impact on their mental wellbeing. “Dogs can thrive when given new tasks and opportunities to engage. Integrating a mix of canine enrichment activities into your dog’s day-to-day life is the best way to help stimulate their senses, encourage them to practice natural behaviours, and improve their wellbeing. As well as being a lot of fun for you and your dog. “Not all dogs are able to take on the exciting challenges of being a guide dog, but they can all benefit from other forms of canine enrichment.”

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Author: Guide Dogs' Communications Team

Guide Dogs’ Communications Team are available 24/7 to answer journalists' questions about the charity and its services, events and campaigns. We have key spokespeople across all areas of our work and many of the people we support are happy to share their inspirational stories.

Author: Guide Dogs' Communications Team

Guide Dogs’ Communications Team are available 24/7 to answer journalists' questions about the charity and its services, events and campaigns. We have key spokespeople across all areas of our work and many of the people we support are happy to share their inspirational stories.