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  • Mountain View Animal Hosp

By Dr. Kelsey Woolsey, DVM

What do you do with your dog when going outside for a walk or to play fetch is not an option? Maybe the weather is too cold, too hot, maybe it is smoky and the air quality is unsafe. How do you keep your dog active and mentally stimulated? With enrichment!

There are 5 categories of dog enrichment:

  1. Social Enrichment

  2. Nutritional Enrichment

  3. Occupational Enrichment

  4. Sensory Enrichment

  5. Physical Enrichment

Social enrichment promotes contact with dogs and other species. This type of enrichment may be hard to provide when going outside is not an option. If your dog has a friend that they get along with, consider an indoor play date.

Nutritional enrichment is a great option when stuck indoors. You can use your dog’s normal diet or provide new and exciting foods. Here are some ideas:

  • Get a new puzzle feeder and fill it with your dog’s normal kibble.

  • Fill a Kong or lick mat with peanut butter, low fat plain yogurt, canned food, or pumpkin. Kongs and mats can be frozen to increase difficulty.

  • Provide a novel treat - maybe your dog has never tasted salmon or tuna. Try out a new salmon jerky or freeze dried tuna. If you haven’t offered your dog fruit before, try offering a small slice of apple or a blueberry.

  • If your dog likes shredding, put his normal diet in a cardboard box for him to shred to get his meal.

  • Keep an eye on your dog's calorie intake! Use his regular diet when possible. If giving other yummy treats, like peanut butter, make sure to take into account the extra calories your dog will be consuming. If your dog is already overweight, consider only using his regular diet for enrichment.

Occupational enrichment gives your dog a “job” that is both physically and mentally enriching (agility, rally, sent work, playing fetch, etc.). While you may not be able to fit a whole agility course in your living room, you can still practice individual obstacles like a jump or tunnel. Positive training also counts as occupational enrichment. You can teach your dog to “sit” or “down”. Maybe you want to teach them a new trick like “shake” or “roll over”. Dabble in some scent training by hiding your dog’s kibble or treats around the house for him to sniff out.

Need new trick ideas? The AKC website has lists of tricks as well as videos on how to teach them (

Sensory enrichment is another great option when confined indoors. This type of enrichment involves stimulating your dog’s different senses such as sight, sound, or smell.

  • Consider playing soft soothing music or nature sounds.

  • Put on a nature documentary for your dog to watch.

  • Entice his sense of smell by putting different herbal scents around the house or your dog’s living area (eg. lavender, chamomile, vanilla, cinnamon, coconut, ginger). If your dog enjoys the scent of prey, there are commercially available animal scents.

Physical enrichment may be a struggle when you can’t get outdoors, but be creative!

  • You can play tug-o-war inside.

  • Build or purchase a platform for your dog to jump up on.

  • Improve your dog’s balance by teaching him to use a doggie balance ball.

  • If you have stairs in your home, toss your dog’s ball up the stairs for him to retrieve.

Keeping your dog mentally and physically enriched not only improves his health and quality of life but reduces unwanted behavior caused by boredom and anxiety. By focusing your dogs' metal and physical energy you can reduce barking, destructive chewing, food searching (counter surfing), excessive licking, and other unwanted behaviors. Don’t let weather extremes or air quality get you and your pup down - implement new enrichment into your routine!

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  • Mountain View Animal Hosp

General Travel Tips:

  • If you will be staying in a hotel during your travel, leave a radio on at a soft volume, keep your time away from your hotel room short, and use your pet’s crate when away from your room to help avoid destructive behavior.

  • If your pet has a history of anxiety, distress, or nausea when traveling, consult your veterinarian for recommendations to prepare your pet for the trip. These recommendations may include training exercises to acclimate your pet to a kennel or vehicle, tools to use to help your pet relax, or administration of medications to assist with anxiety or nausea. NOTE: Sedation or tranquilizing a pet during travel is not advised (nor permitted for aircraft travel), as it can be fatal. Sedative or tranquilizer medications may cause pets to have breathing problems, blood pressure problems, or problems regulating their body temperature.

Are you traveling out of state?

  • Visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) website, and research the requirements and regulations for the location(s) you will be traveling to and through.

  • Work with your veterinarian to create a timeline for necessary vaccinations, completion of health certifications, and other area-specific requirements, such as rabies titer testing.

  • Research the departure and arrival destination requirements regarding pet identification tags or registration, kennel markings, and ISO-compatible microchip information.

Driving with Pets:

  • Carry a copy of your pet’s recent health certificate which is required when you cross state lines.

  • If your pet is not comfortable riding in a vehicle, work with your veterinarian to discuss ways to improve your pet’s comfort.

  • Research the safety data and size restrictions for any restraint devices or kennels you plan to use. The safest method of restraint for car travel is a kennel on the floor in the back seat or secured in the rear cargo area. This prevents driver disruption and keeps the pet secure in the event of an accident. Front seat travel should be avoided due to driver distraction and possible airbag injury. The kennel should be well-ventilated and big enough for the pet to stand, sit, lie down, and turn around. Other restraint options include harnesses, car seats, and pet barriers.

  • Never leave your pets unsupervised in a parked vehicle, regardless of the outside temperature, even when windows are left open.

  • Pack a travel kit for your pet. Include medications, leash, fresh food and water, bowls, waste disposal bags or litter and litterbox, as well as cleaning supplies.

  • Plan breaks for every few hours; offer water and the opportunity to go to the bathroom.

  • Offer food in small amounts to help reduce possible upset stomach. This is pet dependent.

Flying with Pets:

  • Research transportation options before booking travel and determine whether you will use a commercial carrier or a private charter company for transportation of your pet.

  • On commercial carriers, pets may be categorized for travel as: checked baggage in-cabin with owner, checked baggage cargo on the flight, or manifest cargo on an unaccompanied flight.

  • In-cabin transport is airline-dependent and is restricted to small pets that fit in a kennel under the cabin seat.

  • Pets must be at least 8-10 weeks old for transport but may be required to be at least 15–16 weeks old for international travel.

  • Brachycephalic, short-nosed, flat-faced, breeds may be prohibited from flying in cargo due to safety risks. Some examples are bulldogs, Boston terriers, boxers, and pugs, as well as Persian or Himalayan cats.

  • To minimize stress on your pet, it is recommended to book a non-stop flight when possible.

  • Carry on copies of your pet’s veterinary record and health certificates, along with a leash, food, and any medications in case luggage is delayed or lost.

  • Check with the airline you are using to ensure your pet’s kennel meets specifications. Each airline may vary, but general specifications can be found on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website.

  • Kennels need to be well-ventilated and big enough for the pet to stand, sit, lie down, and turn around in. Food and water bowls must be secured to the carrier and absorbent material supplied for the pet to lay on. Soft-sided and wire-sided kennels are not permitted for cargo travel.

  • Ensure your pet is acclimated to his travel kennel early.

Information from Veterinary Partner Desiree R. Broach, DVM, MS, DACVB

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  • Mountain View Animal Hosp

Updated: Jul 28

By Dr. Kelsey Woolsey, DVM

I recommend that every puppy be taken to puppy class regardless of its size, behavior, or intended lifestyle. I often get asked “Well, is puppy class really necessary? I have trained puppies before and he is mostly going to be an indoor dog.” The answer is always YES, puppy class is necessary. Here is why:

  1. The puppy socialization period is from around 3 weeks of age to 12-16 weeks of age. This is the most influential stage in a puppy’s life relative to social behavior and learning. Most puppies are adopted around 8 weeks of age. This leaves the new owner with only a few weeks to continue exposing the puppy to new stimuli and situations.

  2. Puppy class provides exposure to new people and dogs in a controlled and safe environment. Puppies that are appropriately exposed to a variety of situations, people, and animals are less likely to develop fear and anxiety in the future. Having a trainer that can guide you and help you recognize when your puppy is comfortable versus afraid ensures that your puppy views the new exposure as a positive experience.

  3. Every dog at some point in its life is going to have to be handled by a stranger whether it is by a friend, a pet sitter, or a veterinarian. Teaching a puppy how to positively and appropriately interact with strange humans at a young age sets them up for success in the future.

  4. Puppy class sets up a foundation of communication between you and your puppy. Having this foundation of communication gives you tools to help you and your puppy work through challenging situations that arise and positively address any unwanted behaviors that may develop in the future.

A side note on puppy classes: I do not recommend “puppy boot camps”. These are classes where puppies stay at the training facility for around 2 weeks without their owner. I do not recommend these because the relationship and foundation of communication that is built is not between owner and puppy. Your puppy may be learning basic commands and behaviors, but you are not learning how to give and reinforce those commands.

“What if I adopted a puppy that is older than 16 weeks or an adult dog? Should I still do training classes?” The answer is YES! Although the socialization period is over, it is never too late to learn basic commands that help your dog be a good family member and member of society. Working with a trainer will give you tools to work through any fears or anxieties your adult dog may have or develop. Training can also provide your adult dog with much needed mental and physical enrichment.

When choosing a puppy class or trainer it is important to pick an appropriate positive reinforcement trainer that provides a fear free and force free environment for learning. This handout from the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists gives pet owners some tips on picking a trainer:

For Oregon residents, this website makes it easy to find trainers, veterinarians, pet sitters, and other pet professionals that subscribe to force free methods:

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