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Add Fun to Your Dog’s Day


Are you looking for ideas to make your furry friend’s life better?  

We delve into the transformative realm of dog enrichment activities—an essential ingredient for nurturing happy, healthy, and well-rounded dogs. We lead busy lives and often it’s necessary for us to be away from home for long periods. But just like us, dogs like to be kept entertained and can easily become bored without enough to do leading to unwanted and destructive behaviours. 

Enrichment is more than just a buzzword; it’s a commitment to providing an environment and activities that look after your dog’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.  In other words, finding ways to enrich your dog’s life! 

 Below are some ideas, but explore limitless possibilities by tapping into your imagination. Try to mix it up too – doing the same activity day after day lowers its value. When presenting a new challenge or food toy to your dog, start easy. Let them see you scatter the food, have the food in a ball that easily comes out etc. Then, slowly increase difficulty.

Enrichment toys 

Interactive toys stimulate a dog’s natural impulses to chew, gnaw, chase, and forage. Not only do puzzle toys give your dog’s brain a workout, but they also allow your dog a positive sense of achievement. 

  • Snuffle Mat: A snuffle mat keeps your dog entertained and slows down their mealtimes. Simply sprinkle their favourite treats or mealtime kibble through the ruffled wing sections and let them find it when they are home alone for a long-lasting, tasty and brain-stimulating exercise! 
  • Kong: A Kong is a hard, rubber, snowman-shaped toy with a small hole on top and a large one on the bottom. It takes just a few minutes to stuff a Kong toy with food or treats and can occupy your dog for several hours, depending on your dog’s personality and interest level. As your dog works to remove food or treats from the Kong toy, they expend excess energy. Not only does this help reduce boredom, but it can also help alleviate anxiety. For a longer experience, freeze the Kong before giving it to your dog. 
  • Lickimat: A lick mat is a flat mat, designed for your dog to lick, over and over. They are usually coated with ridges and brittles that encourage licking. Since they are flat, dogs are not able to grab food with their teeth and must use their tongue instead. The result: it takes much longer to eat all the food and provides a fun and stimulating activity for your dog.


Chew toys 

Chewing naturally increases a dog’s overall well-being. The repetitive action of chewing releases serotonin and dopamine, two important neurotransmitters in the brain that support mental health, and a feel-good vibe. Provide your dog with some long-lasting chews such as: 

  • Bully stick 
  • Goat horn 
  • Deer antler  
  • Kangaroo tails 

DIY enrichment 

Enrichment doesn’t need to be expensive, and you don’t have to spend money to get started. In fact, there are many things you can do using things you’ve already got at home! 

  • Rolled-up towels: Roll some treats into a towel or bathmat and let your dog unroll it to find the treats throughout. You can level up by tucking the end of the towel into a box or plastic container, so it doesn’t unravel as easily. Encourage the dog to interact with the towel to get to the treats. 
  • Frozen treats: Freeze some of your dog’s favourite treats into an ice block! Let them enjoy and uncover the treats within.
  • Scavenger Hunts: Put your dog’s food or dried treats in multiple places around the house or your yard, or simply scatter it amongst the grass and let your dog search! You can start with just one room or a small area of lawn and level up by using your entire yard or house.
  • Toy hide-and-seek: You can even teach them to find toys. Get them excited about a toy, then let them see you go hide it somewhere easy – say “go find” they get it and you play. Then you slowly make it harder. You could even choose two toys for them to play with each day.
  • Recycling pit: Add loose cardboard boxes, empty toilet rolls, egg boxes, scrunched-up towels etc to a large box or shell pool and scatter food throughout. You can level up by adding some food into closed boxes, stuffing scrunched paper and food into tubes so there are multiple small puzzles within the bigger puzzle! 

Get started with dog enrichment and tag us on social media to spread the joy!  

Back to Work and School Routine for a Happy Dog

As the back-to-school or return-to-work season approaches, families experience a shift in their household routines. It’s time to start setting early alarms, packing school lunches and leaving the house quiet during the day. Your dog’s daily routine also will change, and they will be home alone more.  

While it’s normal for dogs to feel a little out of sorts as they adjust to this new routine, here are a few steps you can take to ease the transition: 

1. Practice your new routine before school/work starts 

Get your dog used to their new routine as soon as you can. Mimicking your back-to-school or work routine early allows your dog to gradually adjust to the change instead of making the switch abruptly. Establish a consistent routine and stick to it: 

  • Set your alarm and begin your mornings as you would on a normal school day 
  • Take your dog out for a bathroom break or walk at the same time you will on weekdays (both in the morning and evening) 
  • Practice leaving your dog alone at home for small periods to help them adjust 
  • Set their meal routine (again, both mornings and evenings) at their new times

2. Plan extra exercise in the mornings and evenings 

Even with the chaos of the daily routine starting again, your dog still needs to be exercised to keep them happy and healthy. Walking your dog in the morning gives them a chance to burn any energy and leaves them tired for a day without the company they’re used to having. Allow 30 to 45 minutes in the morning for walking, playing and interacting with the outside environment and schedule another exercise, play and/or training session with your dog in the afternoon/evening.  

3. Keep your dog mentally stimulated during the day 

 While our dogs are home alone, they like to be kept entertained. Boredom in dogs can lead to destructive behaviours and behavioural issues. Providing enrichment for your dog is one of the most important things you can do and it’s easy to incorporate into your daily routine. Using a Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter, or a LickiMat with some Greek yoghurt can keep your dog busy for a while. Freezing them in advance can provide even more entertainment since it will take your dog longer to lick out all the deliciousness. Dogs love to chew so provide them with appropriate long-lasting chews such as bully sticks, goat horns or deer antlers.  

 You can also leave some slow music on during the day. Your dog will go from constantly hearing voices during the day to complete silence for hours. You can find some playlists for doggies on Spotify or leave the radio on.  

 4. Hire a dog walker/sign up for doggy daycare 

Maybe your schedule doesn’t allow for enough walking time in the morning, or you just don’t want your dog to spend the day alone. Enrol your dog with a local dog walker or doggy daycare.  

Back to school/work is a tough adjustment for everyone. If your dog seems to struggle with the new routine and you need help, our Pawsitive Behaviour Consultant is here to help. Contact us today for more information. 


Executive Insights

Overcoming tough times

By Melissa Penn, Managing Director, Sydney Dogs & Cats Home

We have experienced really hard financial times over the years, being heavily reliant on the generosity of our community of supporters to keep us going.  In recent times, with the increased cost pressure of running multiple sites, our finances looked dire and we were at risk of closure.  We had to instil some efficient and effective budget management and financial sustainability strategies immediately.  Here are 5 ways to show how we turned ourselves around. Hopefully some of these tips can help your business weather tough times too.

1. Conducted a Comprehensive Cost Audit: We began by conducting a thorough review of our current expenses. Identifying all fixed and variable costs, and categorised them based on necessity and priority.  We have always operated very leanly, but we pulled everything out that we could to minimise outgoings and strain on the organisation and developed an operating budget for each department.  This included revising our income billing structures to ensure a sustainable model was developed to not just minimise outgoings, but to maximise incomings.

2. Reviewed Organisation Chart: A problem we have always faced is not having enough resources.  However, we don’t have the funds to just keep hiring staff. So we performed a comprehensive review of our organisational structure to ensure resources were allocated efficiently.  In times of financial strain, its crucial to maximise the impact of each team member, so having the right people in the right roles is crucial.  Upskilling or cross training staff is also important to cover multiple functions, which can vary day to day.  We redistributed staff and resources to address the most critical gaps, trimming our senior leadership roles and investing more into front line areas where the biggest gaps were identified.

3. Negotiate with Suppliers and Vendors: We reviewed all our suppliers to ensure we were getting the best value and negotiated better terms, and importantly set up as many pro and low bono partnerships where possible. Many businesses are willing to discuss different forms of support, payment plans, discounts, or rebates during tough economic times. Building strong, transparent relationships with your suppliers can lead to agreements that help both parties weather financial challenges.

4. Look for Creative New Income-Generating Opportunities: In addition to cutting costs, we explored how we could innovate new income streams. This involved creating upselling opportunities, for the first-time opening Vet services to the public and other Councils, developing a new sales and merchandise range, targeting new customer and donor segments and adapting our business model.  By actively seeking new revenue sources, you can offset financial challenges and potentially discover untapped markets for your products or services. This approach focuses on not just reducing costs but also proactively driving revenue growth during challenging times. Partnerships, collaborations, and exploring emerging trends is critical.  We also tested new segments and used data to inform and guide where we invest funds in marketing and promoting to help with revenue growth.

5. System Efficiencies and Continual Improvement:  It is important that we focus on continual improvement opportunities, not just to ensure we are providing the highest quality of care for our animals, but to ensure we are working efficiently to maximise our limited resources.  This included investing in systems to enhance productivity and promote resource efficiencies. Regular reassessing and refining processes ensures our systems stay agile and are responsive to our changing and growing business needs.

Our partners are important to us. I think it’s important to continue sharing with each other trends, tips, what’s working, and what isn’t, so we can continue to build and strengthen each other and our wonderful community who continue to help lost and abandoned pets.

Thank you,


Managing Director
Sydney Dogs & Cats Home

Partner Perspectives: Benny Button

Sydney Dogs & Cats Home partner Benny Button kicks off our Partner Perspective Series with an article on mindfulness to help your staff start their year right:

Being Mindful when ‘Busyness’ is back!

Most of us are coming out of what has hopefully been a restful and replenishing holiday season. But now it’s back to work and the resumption of the ‘norm’ where our modern lives and workplaces are busier than ever.

Before we know it demanding workloads and numerous responsibilities will be filling our calendars and to-do lists to the brink of bursting. The constant flow of information, email, and media competing for our attention at all hours of the day resumes. It’s not hard to see that we can become so busy being busy that we lose sight of what is most important to us, or even lose our sense of self and connection with others.

Our brains do their best to cope with these demands by setting habits of thinking, feeling, deciding and behaving that aim to help us handle our workloads and the high expectations we place on ourselves. It’s like having ‘default settings’ in our brains that guide us to navigate our daily experiences as if we are on autopilot mode.

We can all benefit from making time to slow down and tune into what’s important. We can reawaken our awareness and focus our attention on what matters – taking action mindfully. What’s more, we can practise doing this – even train this capability – because ‘busyness’ has become the default setting and our brains are switching into autopilot mode in an attempt to cope with the demand. This process is mindfulness, and it is something research shows us is incredibly valuable.

While the above context is serious stuff, we can have some fun learning ways to practice mindful awareness and building our attention skills. We can enjoy the process of firing, wiring, and rewiring our brain’s default settings and switching off our autopilot – all while experiencing novel and interesting experiences.

Here are five practical ways to practice mindfulness, each with clear action steps:

1. Mindful Breathing Breaks:

Action: Schedule short breaks (1 to 5 minutes) throughout your workday. During these breaks, focus solely on your breathing. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and take deep, slow breaths. Concentrate on the sensation of air entering and leaving your nostrils, and the rise and fall of your chest. If your mind wanders, gently bring your focus back to your breath. If you would like an example of a practice watch this instructional video from Dr. Adrian Medhurst. Take a mindful breather

2. Mindful Eating:

Action: Choose one meal or snack each day to eat mindfully. Turn off all distractions like TV or smartphones. Pay attention to the colors, textures, smells, and flavors of your food. Chew slowly, savoring each bite and noticing the sensations and tastes. If you’re up for it take some time to reflect on the journey of the food – from where it was grown to how it was prepared.

3. Mindful Walking:

Action: Dedicate 10-15 minutes a day to go for a mindful walk. This can be done during a break at work or in your neighborhood. Walk slowly and deliberately, noticing each step and the sensations in your feet and legs. Observe your surroundings – the sights, sounds, and smells. Use this time to connect with the environment, allowing your mind to focus on the present moment. Did you know ‘Awe Walking is a thing? Curious? Take a look at this article.

4. Gratitude Journaling:

Action: Each evening, spend a few minutes writing down three things you are grateful for that day. These can be simple things like a sunny day, a productive meeting, or a kind gesture from a colleague. This practice helps to shift focus from the day’s stresses and cultivate a mindset of appreciation and positivity.

5. Mindful Listening:

Action: During conversations, practice fully focusing on the person talking. Put away any distractions, maintain eye contact, and listen without planning your response. Notice the person’s expressions and tone. Be present in the conversation, acknowledging the other person’s feelings and perspectives. This not only enhances your mindfulness but also strengthens your relationships.

Incorporating these practices into your daily routine can help in managing stress, enhancing focus, and maintaining a connection with the present moment as ‘busyness’ kicks back into gear.

Troy Mansell

Co-Founder & Director

Benny Button

Want to learn more? Talk to Troy at 

**Benny Button partners with Sydney Dogs & Cats Home to assist staff with wellbeing as well as donating to help lost and unwanted pets.

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