Free Consultation


Enrichment Ideas for Large, Working Breed Dogs

Enrichment Ideas for Large, Working Breed Dogs

Unleash Their Inner Adventurer: Sniff Walks and Off-Leash Explorations

As the owner of a high-energy, large working breed pup, I’ve learned that the key to a happy, well-adjusted furry friend isn’t just endless hours of physical exercise – it’s about providing mental stimulation and catering to their innate needs. And let me tell you, nothing gets my Labrador/Hound mix, BooBoo, more excited than a good old-fashioned sniff walk or off-leash adventure.

Sure, the traditional “focus on me” leash training is important, but it can be incredibly restrictive for our canine companions. Dogs see the world through their noses, and expecting them to ignore all those tantalizing scents during a walk just seems cruel. That’s why I love letting BooBoo take the lead on our sniff walks. We meander at his pace, with him darting off to follow his nose wherever it takes him. It may not be the most efficient way to cover ground, but the look of pure joy on his face as he explores his surroundings is worth it.

And if I really want to take his enrichment to the next level, I’ll find a secure, off-leash area where he can truly let loose. Watching him bound around, chasing squirrels and sniffing every inch of the terrain, is like witnessing pure doggy bliss. It’s a chance for him to not only exercise his body but also his mind, as he navigates the environment and makes his own decisions. Of course, safety is paramount, so I always make sure he has a solid recall and good manners before granting him this freedom.

Sniff walks and off-leash time are just the beginning when it comes to enrichment for our large, working breed pups. But they’re a great way to let them be dogs and fulfill those deep-rooted instincts.

Satisfy Their Hunting and Herding Drives

While BooBoo may not be out in the field chasing prey or herding sheep, he’s still got those hardcore hunting and herding instincts hardwired into his DNA. And you know what? I love finding ways to tap into that natural drive and give him the mental and physical stimulation he craves.

One of my favorite activities is setting up a good old-fashioned game of hide and seek. I’ll stash BooBoo’s favorite treats or toys around the house, then let him loose to sniff them out. The look of intense concentration on his face as he tracks down each item is priceless. And when he finally locates the hidden treasure, the way he prances around with pride is just the sweetest thing.

Of course, you can take this game to the next level by incorporating some obedience training. Have your pup hold a stay while you hide the goods, then release them with a “go find it!” command. Not only does this provide mental stimulation, but it also reinforces important commands.

If your dog’s breed is more inclined toward herding, you might want to look into activities like treibball, sheepdog trials, or agility. These allow them to tap into those innate herding behaviors in a safe, structured way. And who knows, maybe you’ll uncover a hidden talent that you both never knew existed!

The key is to observe your pup’s natural tendencies and match enrichment activities accordingly. What gets BooBoo’s tail wagging might not be the same for your Aussie or Border Collie. But the joy of seeing them engage in behaviors that satisfy their deepest canine instincts is truly unmatched.

Chew, Lick, and Sniff Their Way to Bliss

When it comes to enrichment for our larger, working breed pups, sometimes the simplest solutions can be the most effective. Take, for example, the power of enrichment feeding. By trading in their boring old food bowl for puzzle feeders, snuffle mats, or even just scattering their kibble around the yard, you can turn mealtime into a mentally stimulating activity.

BooBoo goes absolutely bonkers for his enrichment feeding sessions. The act of licking, chewing, and searching for his food keeps him entertained for ages, and I love watching the concentration on his face as he tries to work out each new puzzle. Plus, it helps to slow down his eating, which is great for digestion and preventing bloat in large breeds.

And if you’re looking for even more ways to satisfy that deep-rooted need to chew, lick, and sniff, there are tons of other enrichment products on the market. Stuffed Kongs, snuffle mats, and good old-fashioned cardboard boxes can provide hours of entertainment. I even like to get creative and make my own DIY feeders by rolling treats up in towels or hiding them in paper-filled containers.

The beauty of enrichment feeding is that it’s not just for mealtime – you can use it as a tool to combat boredom and destructive behaviors anytime. When BooBoo starts getting a little too rambunctious around the house, I’ll often toss a few treats into a puzzle feeder and let him work it out. It’s like magic, I tell you – the destruction stops, and I get to enjoy a blissful, peaceful pup.

So, if you’re looking to level up your large breed’s enrichment game, don’t overlook the power of chewing, licking, and sniffing. It may seem simple, but it’s a surefire way to keep those big, energetic pups mentally stimulated and happy.

Enrichment for the Whole Family

As much as I love seeing BooBoo engage in all these enriching activities, my favorite part has to be when we get to play together. After all, what’s the point of having a furry, four-legged best friend if you can’t have a little fun together, right?

One of our go-to enrichment activities is a good old-fashioned game of hide and seek – but with a twist. Instead of just hiding treats or toys, I’ll sometimes disappear, challenging BooBoo to put his impressive tracking skills to the test and sniff me out. The look of pure excitement on his face when he finally locates me is priceless, and the ensuing cuddle session is the cherry on top.

And if we’re really feeling adventurous, we’ll amp it up with a lively game of fetch or tug-of-war. BooBoo goes absolutely bonkers for anything involving retrieving, so I make sure to have a stash of his favorite balls and plush toys on hand. And you better believe I get in on the action too, putting on my best “fierce predator” impression as we engage in a spirited tug-of-war battle.

These enrichment activities aren’t just great for BooBoo – they’re also an opportunity for us to bond and strengthen our relationship. It’s a chance for me to tap into my own inner child and just play, without worrying about things like obedience or manners. And I know BooBoo loves every minute of it.

At the end of the day, enrichment for our large, working breed pups isn’t just about physical and mental stimulation – it’s about creating a fulfilling, joyful life for our canine companions. And what better way to do that than by getting in on the fun ourselves?

So, whether you’re embarking on a epic sniff walk, challenging your pup’s hunting instincts, or engaging in a rambunctious game of fetch, remember to make time for enrichment that the whole family can enjoy. Trust me, the rewards are truly paw-some.

Conclusion: Enrichment is the Key to Canine Happiness

As the proud parent of a high-energy, large working breed dog, I’ve learned that enrichment is the key to keeping my furry friend happy, healthy, and well-adjusted. While physical exercise is certainly important, it’s the mental stimulation and ability to tap into their natural instincts that truly makes the difference.

From sniff walks and off-leash explorations to engaging in hunt and herding-inspired activities, there are so many ways to enrich the lives of our canine companions. And don’t forget the power of chewing, licking, and sniffing – simple pleasures that can provide hours of entertainment. For those large-scale outdoor activities, such as building agility courses or setting up new play areas, consider renting the necessary tools and equipment from They offer a wide range of equipment to help you create an enriching environment for your dog.

But my absolute favorite part of the enrichment journey has been incorporating the whole family. Playing hide and seek, fetching, and engaging in tug-of-war battles not only keep BooBoo entertained, but they also strengthen the bond between us. It’s a chance for me to tap into my own inner puppy and just have some good, old-fashioned fun.

So, if you’re the proud parent of a large, working breed pup, I encourage you to get creative with your enrichment efforts. Observe their natural tendencies, cater to their deepest canine needs, and most importantly, don’t forget to join in on the fun. After all, a tired dog is a happy dog – and a happy dog means a happy you.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a sniff walk to embark on with my best furry friend. The adventures await!

iHaveDogs: Your one-stop shop for all things canine, from enrichment ideas to adoption resources and beyond.

Tags :
Share This :

Get Updates with our



Join our passionate community of dog lovers. Embrace the journey of companionship with Ihavedogs, where every dog gets the best of care and love.