Our Favorite Enrichment Games For Fearful Dogs

enrichment fearful dogs Apr 23, 2024

You want your fearful dog to feel happier and more confident- but where to start? Enrichment games are a great way to get more joy into your dog's day. Here are some favorites from our Confidence Builders Club members:

  • Yard foraging: If you have a fenced yard (or access to a fenced area), this is a nice easy one. You just scatter, or hide, some of your dog's food or treats across the yard, and then let your dog sniff them out! 

Two details to keep in mind with this game though. If you have weeds, seeds, or anything else in your yard that could be dangerous to your dog, get rid of those first before trying this game. And if you live in an area where any food left in the yard is likely to draw in wildlife, you might prefer to hide a limited number of treats that you can then check on and retrieve if your dog missed some. 

  • "Treasure box": This is one I play almost daily with my own dogs. The idea is to hide several treats in a box of some kind, often wrapped in paper or fabric, or hidden within food toys or other, smaller boxes for an extra challenge. You can use any kind of box, and any "hiding materials" that are safe for your dog.  I usually use cardboard boxes or laundry baskets, and hid treats in and among other smaller boxes, packing paper, dog toys, etc.  
  • Scent work: There are so many ways to set up scent games for dogs, and almost all dogs love sniffing out food. There's a nice example in the video below that uses a number of household items. If you're interested in a beginning class in scent work, we have a self-paced one for you
  • Puzzle toys: There is such a variety of puzzle toys available these days! If your dog is new to puzzle toys, start with very easy toys that don't make a lot of noise. Check out this blog for more recommendations.  
  • Treat chase/"back and forth": Tossing or rolling treats for your dog to chase can be so much fun, and provide exercise, even if your dog is too afraid to leave the house.  If you decide to try this, make sure the flooring your dog will be running isn't slippery, and provides good traction. Otherwise your dog could slip and hurt or scare themselves, which could lead to them avoiding the game in the future. 


Interested in learning more about helping your fearful dog gain confidence? Get on the waitlist for our upcoming course, Confidence Building For Dogs.