Is Enrichment The Square or The Rectangle?


I’m sure most of us remember that math lesson that happens to very accurately describe a lot of unrelated topics:

A square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square. 

Funnily enough, Emily just used this example in a recent blog post without knowing I was using the same example while writing this one. It really does describe a lot of topics!

Recently, Emily came across a Facebook post where someone was asking about enrichment activities for their dog. The group moderator tagged her to see if she had any suggestions. The poster thanked the moderator for the tag but mentioned that her dog did not have any behavior problems, so didn’t think that our enrichment framework could help. 

So the question became: does enrichment, and more specifically the Pet Harmony Enrichment Framework, require behavior problems?


Here, enrichment is the rectangle. 

Behavior problems require enrichment, but enrichment doesn’t require behavior problems. In other words, our enrichment framework can be used for any animal, regardless of whether or not they exhibit maladaptive behaviors. However, if a pet does have behavior problems, we should absolutely work through those challenges using an enrichment framework. 


The answer lies in the definition

Remember that here at Pet Harmony we use the original definition of enrichment: it’s about meeting all of an animal’s physical, emotional, and behavioral needs to empower them to perform species-typical behaviors in healthy, safe, and appropriate ways. 

All animals have needs, ergo enrichment is for everyone! 


So why do we always talk about enrichment in relation to behavior problems?

Well, it’s kind of what we do. We’re behavior consultants who work with pets who have maladaptive behaviors- like anxiety, aggression, fear, and compulsions- and we do so using the understanding that we need to meet all of the animal’s needs in order to help them be the best version of themselves and to help our clients reach their goals in a more efficient way. We always talk about our enrichment framework in relation to behavior problems because that’s how we typically use it. 

In addition to that, we want to make it clear that enrichment isn’t superfluous. It isn’t an add-on or something to focus on only when an animal is bored. It’s an incredibly important element of behavior and by shining a light on how you can use an enrichment framework to solve behavior problems we hope we’re showing folks how important enrichment truly is. 


How would you go through the Pet Harmony Enrichment Framework with a behaviorally-sound pet?

Glad you asked! Really, the process will look the same. The differences we’ll see between a behaviorally-sound animal and one with maladaptive behaviors are likely the categories of enrichment we focus on, the activities and how they’re implemented, and the goals. 


Take a look:

  1. List desirable & undesirable behaviors. Even if your pet doesn’t have maladaptive behaviors, there are still behaviors you’re hoping to see more of and less of. That could look like being more relaxed at the vet office, greater mobility for an aging pet, or just displaying a wider array of species-typical behaviors (aka behavioral diversity). Even with a perfectly behaved animal, we still want those behaviors to continue and will need to reevaluate our enrichment plan as they age and circumstances change to set the stage for those desired behaviors to continue. 
  2. Are needs being met? All individuals have needs. And needs come and go. We don’t eat one meal and then are satiated for the next several months. We don’t go on one run and that meets our physical activity needs for the next year. In addition to the cyclical nature of needs, including changes as an individual ages, they are also subject to environmental changes: things like moving, new household members, and things as inevitable as weather changes. All of that means that we need to keep an eye on our pet’s needs to make sure that we’re always doing the best we can for them, regardless of the situation. And for the household that already has an incredible enrichment plan? I recommend preparing for future, likely scenarios, like aging needs. 
  3. Are agency needs being met? Remember that agency means having some level of control over the outcomes in a situation. For folks who have pets not displaying maladaptive behaviors, this is often where we focus in their enrichment plan. How can we work on cooperative care? How can we create more two-way communication between humans and pets? Have we recently performed preference tests to see if any preferences have changed? 
  4. Narrow down your options. This part is exactly the same as working with a pet who has behavior issues. We still have goals; we still have current behaviors and behaviors we’d like to see more of or less of in the future. We still have a bunch of different ways to get from current point A to future point B and we’ll need to narrow down those options based on the resources we have at hand. Nothing new here. 
  5. Prioritize. This part is often a bit easier than working with some pets who have behavior issues. The pets we see at Pet Harmony often have several different maladaptive behaviors and it’s imperative that we prioritize what to work on first to keep our clients from burning out. That’s not always the case with folks who have a behaviorally-healthy pet, though we do sometimes still see folks trying to do too much due to enrichment guilt. Prioitization is just as important for those pet parents to ensure sustainable plans. 
  6. Develop your plan of action. This step is also the same as working with a pet who displays maladaptive behaviors. You still need to determine who is doing what, when, where, and how. 
  7. Implement and document. I think implementation goes without saying, so let’s focus on the documentation portion. I do still recommend some level of documentation or data tracking when implementing a new facet of your enrichment plan with a behaviorally-healthy pet. Often, though, we’re able to get away with it being simpler. For example, when I started monitoring how well massage therapy was helping Oso’s mobility, I was able to do that in my head using jumping on the couch as our litmus test. When we first started his massage therapy, I hadn’t seen him jump up on the couch in at least a few weeks, if not longer. He would step onto the couch instead. That made it easy to notice when he would jump because it had become a rare occurrence. As he continued having more sessions, I noticed an increase in how frequently he would jump so I could conclude that it was, in fact, having the intended result. In that situation, I was looking for a simple “yes this improves mobility” or “no this does not improve mobility” and I already had a history of observing and making a mental note of the particular behavior that became our litmus test. If I was looking at more specific details or for a behavior that I wasn’t habitually noticing, I would likely have written down the results. 
  8. Reassess, readdress, and do it again. We already talked about how needs are cyclical. They change with household changes, seasons, age, and more. That means our enrichment plan is never done. We always get to work on improving our pet’s quality of life. So even though you may go through this step slower with a behaviorally-healthy pet than with a pet who displays maladaptive behaviors, you’re still going to need to reassess, readdress, and do it again at some point. 


 Now what?

  • Ready to put this framework into action? Head over to to get a free copy of our enrichment chart and a breakdown of these steps. Follow that free guide to help create your pet’s enrichment plan.
  • Need more examples and details of how to do this? Check out our new Canine Enrichment for the Real World Companion Workbook here. This is an affiliate link. We receive a small commission for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you. This helps us continue to put out free content to help you and your pets live more harmoniously!
  • Get working on your pet’s enrichment plan! Share your results with us @petharmonytraining on Facebook and Instagram

Happy training!



May 2022 Training Challenge – Getting in the Enrichment Habit

I’m gonna be calling out some people here right in the beginning. 

Raise your hand if you WANT TO DO THE THING, but something is standing in your way? 

And what do I mean by that? 

I want to give my dogs frozen food puzzles to lick once a day, but I can’t seem to do it. 

I want to spend 3 minutes training my dog, but I have only done it once in the last two weeks. 

I want to give my dog boxes with kibble in them to destroy, but it takes so much effort. 

I want to __________, but ___________. 

Yeah, friend. Me too. 

Building habits around our pet’s enrichment plan can be difficult in the constant churn of the rest of life. I have grandiose goals for my two dogs, but those goals often fall by the wayside as other fires appear on the horizon. 

If this sounds like you, then stick around, this training challenge is for you. 

This month, your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to figure out what’s standing in the way of your best intentions. 

What is stopping you from turning your intentions and goals into sustainable habits? 

Oof, that seems like a big question, right? 

Don’t worry. 

We’ve helped thousands of families on their enrichment journey, and we’ve seen some of the common barriers among our clients. Check out these common barriers and the ways families have overcome them.


The “It Needs to be Perfect” Struggle 

Do you find yourself saying things like… 

“Well, I need to do all of these things before I can start.”

“I need to know all the things before I can start.” 

“If I can’t do it all, I can’t do any of it.” 

I think most of us have been there at some time in our lives. We want to do things “right”, so we put it off until we can feel like we are doing it “right.”

So, do you feel your inner perfectionist standing between you and your enrichment habit? 

You don’t have to know everything about everything for a stellar enrichment plan for your dog. That’s what behavior consultants are for, they can help you build your plan, leaving you to focus on execution. This doesn’t mean you can’t still learn *all the things*, but it does mean that you don’t have to do it with the cloud of pressure over your head! 

Separate the habit from the results. Integrating new routines into your life takes time, so sometimes, it’s helpful to say, “In order to benefit my pet, I need to do the thing. The first step, is getting the thing done”. Split the criteria for yourself. Start with doing the thing, and then add in those additional steps later. 

And remember, something is likely better than nothing, and you can start small. Start with one small step, and when you have that integrated into your routine, add something else. This is something else a qualified behavior consultant can help you with. Small steps are our specialty!


The “Too Many Choices” Paralysis

Do you find yourself saying things like… 

“I don’t know what to do today?” 

“I can’t decide where to start!” 

“Should I be doing this or that?”

And then doing none of the things? Analysis paralysis is a real thing, and with the millions of enrichment options available, we see it seep in often. Where do I focus my attention? What if I make the wrong choice? What if there is a BETTER option? 

So, do you find the sheer number of options overwhelming and paralyzing? 

First off, you won’t know if there is a better option for your pet unless you try some stuff. Working with a professional can help narrow down your options, and direct your focus, but at the end of the day, I can tell you most, if not all dogs, benefit from opportunities to partake in sniffing. What I can’t tell you is what format or structure of sniffing is going to most benefit your dog. Does scatter feeding in the yard, tracking scents, sniffing through boxes and obstacle courses for food, or sniffaris provide you the best results? We need to do some trial and evaluation. And until we have that information, there is no bad option as long as it is safe, healthy, and appropriate. 

Looking at 10 options is likely too much, but looking at 3 can be manageable. So, narrow it down to three. If your dog’s enrichment program has some flexibility, and a sustainable, realistic and effective enrichment program should have some flexibility built-in, then toss all the options into a hat and pull three out to choose from. Or better yet, learn your pet’s “Yes, please!” and “No, thank you.” and ask them to pick for you! 


The “Chasing the Shiny” Burn Out 

Do you find yourself saying things like… 

“I’ll just add one more toy to my shopping cart.” 

“My dog is too fast!”

“I saw this incredible thing on Instagram…” 

This one is often tied with The “Too Many Choices” Paralysis and The “It Needs to be Perfect” Struggle. In an effort to have the best-darned enrichment plan, we are constantly searching the internet, listening to podcasts like Enrichment for the Real World, and looking for new enrichment options, and I see a couple of things happen here.

You may feel like your enrichment plan isn’t enough because other people are doing different things. You may not be using the results in your pet’s behavior to gauge its effectiveness, and because of that, you may get to a point where it doesn’t feel sustainable, or realistic anymore. Doing more, doing different, and doing new constantly is not feasible. 

So, do you feel the burnout creeping in and blocking your enrichment habit? 

Remember, enrichment isn’t about the activity. It’s about the results in the animal’s behavior. So, if you’re chasing the shiny because you think novelty and newness are necessary for an effective enrichment plan for your dog, I give you permission to slow down. Close your 95 internet tabs that are open with new enrichment ideas, and return to the basics and foundations. More is not always more when it comes to enrichment. When you provide an opportunity for your pet, do they engage with it? Does the activity help meet your pet’s needs in order to empower them to perform species-typical behavior in healthy, safe, and appropriate ways? If the answer is no, then it’s not helping your goals. 

Unless, you’re like me, and chasing the shiny is part of YOUR enrichment plan. Sometimes, that activity can be cup filling for the human, and if that sounds like you, then, by all means, keep your 95 browser tabs open, and continue to scroll Instagram. But, watch out for those times when Compare Leads to Despair, and if you feel that happening, circle back to my above point.  Does the activity help meet your pet’s needs in order to empower them to perform species-typical behavior in healthy, safe, and appropriate ways? Take a moment to be present with your pet. When the activity we partake in helps to empower them to perform species-typical behavior in healthy, safe, and appropriate ways, slowing down to observe and appreciate our work is really important.


The “I Don’t Have the Bandwidth” Challenge 

Do you find yourself saying things like… 

“There’s no way I can do that every day?” 

“I don’t have the time to be able to _____.” 

“I’m so tired.” 

Yup. I feel all of that. We only have so much that we can give, and your oxygen mask needs to be on before you can help anyone else. 

So, do you feel like you can’t take on one more thing? 

Be kind to yourself. We all have 24 hours in a day, but we all have a different 24 hours. My partner is out of the house for 12 hours a day, and I work from home. What each of us can feasibly, sustainably, and reliably do for the dogs is different. If you have a bandwidth struggle, make sure you are taking care of yourself as best you can. (I’m going to plug a great self-care/self-enrichment resource here.)

And this is one where I really encourage you to work with a professional to strip down to the bare bones of what is necessary to meet your pet’s needs and your goals. You’ve got a certain amount of resources to share, so let’s make sure you are focusing on the things that will help you make the biggest impact. We can help you tweak small things that will make a big difference.

Meal prepping your frozen food puzzles for 2 weeks can make it more sustainable and more likely to happen. 

You can also prepare your dog’s food in boxes DIY destructibles if you store them in a pest-proof container and use them within a couple of weeks. 

It might be moving where your dog’s food is kept to make things easier for everyone. 

It might be putting up some window film so that your dog is able to rest throughout the day. 

Small changes can result in big wins. 


The “I Can’t Tell if it is Working” Fog

Do you find yourself saying things like…

“I think he likes ____.” 

“I guess it’s worth it.” 

“I don’t know if it made a difference.” 

To stick with an enrichment plan, you really need to see the wins. You need to see your pet’s behavior change. You need to observe the differences it is making, or else what is reinforcing you to continue doing the thing? 

So, are you not sure that your enrichment plan is working? 

Refresh your body language observing and interpreting skills! Through body language and observation, you’ll be able to see the changes better, or lack thereof, and can assess your plan with confidence. 

Keep a log of your pet’s behavior? What do you find undesirable? What behaviors do you find desirable? Are you seeing changes in either the undesirable behaviors or the desirable behaviors? Keeping a tally of your observations can help you be objective! You can see how Allie has done this with her nemesis, Winter Oso. 

If you aren’t seeing the desirable changes, make adjustments! Your enrichment plan was likely created with a goal in mind, so adjust to continue working toward that goal. 


Now what? 

  • There are a lot of reasons that can get in the way of building a sustainable enrichment habit. Identify some of the barriers that are getting in your way. Once you know what they are, or at least have an inkling, you can start knocking those barriers down! 
  • We’ve helped thousands of families not only create sustainable, effective enrichment plans for their pets but also troubleshoot barriers to creating long-lasting and effective habits. We’d love to help you, too! We see clients all over the world and can help with any behavior problem remotely. Click here to get started.

Happy training,


Feline Enrichment for the Real World

What is Enrichment?

At Pet Harmony, we talk about enrichment all the time, but if you’re a new cat owner, or just recently joining us, we need to define enrichment. It’s more than just Kongs and toys. Enrichment, as described in episode one of our all-new podcast, is “meeting all of an animal’s needs in order for them to be physically, behaviorally, and emotionally healthy enough to perform species-typical behaviors in safe, healthy, and appropriate ways.” Go listen to Episode 1 of Enrichment for the Real World for more on that!

So, like canine enrichment, feline (cat) enrichment needs to be specific to them. Just because something works for a dog, doesn’t mean it will work for a cat — and just because a certain activity helps one cat, doesn’t mean it will work for another. We need to provide cat-specific enrichment to have a healthy cat. When our cat is healthy, our relationship with them is so much better.

Typical Feline Behavior

Anytime I am trying to figure out what species-typical behaviors are, it is important to research the species. When we know what an animal usually does, we can give them ways to meet those needs that don’t compromise their physical, emotional, and behavioral health — or our own.

A brown tabby cat high-fives its parent.

Here are some behaviors cats typically perform:

  • Dig around in loose substrate in order to urinate and defecate.
  • Bury or hide their urine and feces in said substrate
  • Groom or “bathe” themselves
  • Scratch on things
  • Jump and climb
  • Hang out in elevated spaces
  • Hideout in small spaces
  • Eat multiple small meals in a day
  • Follow a hunting cycle of stalk, pounce, eat, groom, sleep
  • Bat small objects with their paws, sometimes causing them to fall

Notice that I said these are some things cats typically do. Not all cats do all these things, and I also didn’t list all the things cats do. These are just some very interesting areas that can become problematic for your home if your cat doesn’t have an outlet.

How Do I Provide Enrichment for a Cat, and Why Does it Help?

If your cat is performing a species-typical behavior in a way we don’t like, we can offer activities we do like. Even if they seem unrelated, they may still reduce stress as well as behaviors we don’t like.
Here are four easy enrichment ideas to try with your cat:

  • Provide multiple, desirable elevated spaces for your cats, and train them to use them. Buy or make a tall cat tree, or install cat-friendly shelves. If they weren’t in your house, elevated spaces available to them outside are: the tops of cars, roofs of houses, fence lines, trees, and rocks. Small, three-foot-tall scratching posts with beds attached do not make good elevated spaces for cats.

A brown and grey cat tree nearly touches the ceiling in my house. It is near a window for prime sun bathing and birdwatching opportunities.

    • Why? Access to high spaces has been proven to reduce stress-related behaviors in cats. It also gives them somewhere to run to that small children or dogs cannot reach. Providing these spaces and training your cat to use them will also make them less likely to use your furniture to get up high and knockdown cups, vases, or other valuable objects. (Be sure to provide appropriate elevated spaces in places your cat commonly goes onto undesirable surfaces — give them a spot in the kitchen where it is okay for them to watch you cook, for example.)
  • Simulate hunting through play. Cats are ambush hunters. That means that they hide, stalk, pounce, and attack their prey. Unlike dogs, who are opportunists by nature, wild felines rely on hunting to survive. Eating dry kibble from a bowl just doesn’t cut it for most cats! Try lots of different toys to see which ones they fancy. Make the toy act like prey: sometimes it is slow, sometimes it is quick… sometimes it hides… sometimes it hops! The more it moves like a little bird or mouse, the more likely your cat is to love it. Most cats love a good teaser toy, like the ones pictured below. Or, if they are like my cats, they may also appreciate a good game of fetch. Be sure to put out meaty treats for them to eat when they finish playing. I like to use freeze-dried raw treats like PureBites. I just drop them into their bowls or on their cat tree at the end of a play session.

    • Why? When their little hunter instincts aren’t being used in play, they might be used on ankles, hands, and other pets in the household. Being given appropriate outlets for their hunting instincts can notably decrease aggression in cats.
  • Provide multiple scratching surfaces throughout the house. There are many types of scratching surfaces available for your cats. There’s cardboard, jute, and carpet, to name a few. Cats like to scratch in areas they like — in the living room, in the bedroom, etc. Try providing different types in the areas they like to scratch most. If your cat has a positive reaction to catnip, you may choose to use it to attract them to the scratchers. You can also drop a favorite treat each time a cat uses an appropriate surface. Some cats like scratching vertically, some like scratching horizontally. Try both. A common deterrent for cats using their provided scratching posts is when the post moves when they scratch it. So make sure the scratcher you’ve provided is tall enough for them to stretch and scratch, and heavy or secure enough that it won’t wobble too much.

Brown kitten scratches on black scratching post.

    • Why? Well, scratching is a stress reliever for cats, just like chewing is for dogs. Not providing them with this outlet is likely to get your furniture and carpets ruined — or, if we have punished scratching too severely, the stress may come up as other undesirable behaviors, like urine marking or increased aggression.
  • Provide foraging opportunities for your cat, especially just before bed. You can use fancy cat puzzles like the one pictured below, or you can simply provide cat-friendly food or treats and place them around their space at different levels and in hidey holes. Cats will use their keen senses to hunt out and find the treats. It takes some time for some cats to get used to it, and we can help you shape this behavior in your cats.

A grey tabby cat uses her nose, paws, and brain to get her favorite treats from a treat puzzle.

    • Why? Sniffing out food and eating small meals are both excellent ways to tire out a young cat and reduce stress in all ages. You will probably sleep better when your cats get to hunt out some especially tasty goodies just before bed, and it is another way to help them gain confidence with their cat furniture.

There are, of course, tons of other ideas to try with your cats. I haven’t even touched on many categories of enrichment. These four tips address many feline-typical needs, and I’ve found them to significantly decrease behaviors we might find annoying in our feline companions.

Now What?

  • Try doing one of these things for your cat — just dropping a few tasty treats on an unused cat tree or rearranging the top of the bookcase to be cat friendly can go a long way!
  • Don’t go too over the top. Introducing too many of these things at once won’t just stress you out — it may also stress your kitty! Try one thing at a time, and use trial and eval to figure out which things work for your cat. And don’t be afraid to return or donate toys that your cat doesn’t like.
  • Work with a qualified Behavior Consultant if you need help with your kitty. These things might help, but we can also hone a plan specific to your cat! If you’re ready for a professional, you can work with us here.
  • Join our free Facebook group, “Enrichment for the Real World

Happy Training,

All About the Pet Harmony Enrichment Framework

If you’ve been following us, you know that enrichment is our jam. We wrote Canine Enrichment for the Real World, have enrichment courses, and imbue it into everything that we do at Pet Harmony.

And, just so we’re on the same page, the way I’m defining enrichment is:

Enrichment means meeting all of an animal’s physical, mental, and emotional needs in order to empower them to perform species-typical behaviors in healthy, safe, and appropriate ways.

That’s a mouthful, so we often just say that enrichment means meeting all of an individual’s needs.

One of the facets of enrichment that we’ve been talking about a lot is our Enrichment Framework. This framework is how we systematically meet individuals’ needs to affect behavior change. And while we originally intended the Pet Harmony Enrichment Framework to be a way for us to better communicate with other professionals how we do this, it can be applicable to the everyday pet parent as well! 


Let’s dive in to see how this framework works and how you can use it with your pet.


The Pet Harmony Enrichment Framework

Enrichment frameworks are nothing new. They help animal caregivers be more strategic with the limited resources they have and that makes an enrichment plan more sustainable in the long run. Our framework is a modified version of one called the SPIDER Protocol that many zoos use. Our goal was to make something more friendly for the average pet household. Here are the steps we came up with:

  1. List desirable and undesirable behaviors. We need to know where we are and where we want to be to make sure we’re on the right path! This list includes current undesirable behaviors that your pet is exhibiting and current and future desirable behaviors. 
  2. Are needs being met? In our book, we outline 14 categories of enrichment needs, from health and veterinary care to mental exercise to foraging to calming. This step is also about surveying where we currently are.
  3. Are agency needs being met? Agency means having the ability to make choices that result in desired outcomes. All individuals need to have some control over their lives, and that includes our pets! This step is the final one in surveying where we are by taking stock of how much agency the pet has within each of the 14 enrichment categories. 
  4. Narrow down your options. Now that we have an idea of where we are and where we want to be, we will have an idea of what categories we want to improve in to help us get there. For example, if we have a dog bouncing off the walls in the evening we can look into physical and mental exercise options to see if that affects that particular behavior. While there are a ton of options and ideas out there, not everyone is going to be right for you, your pet, and your household. We need to narrow it down to what’s possible for this particular scenario.
  5. Prioritize activities. Some options will be simple and some will be more time-consuming. Prioritize activities that give you a lot of bang for your buck by choosing simple, easy-to-implement activities that address multiple needs.
  6. Develop a plan of action. This is the who, what, when, where, and for how long. Planning these details ahead of time helps you more easily enact the plan without letting things fall through the cracks.
  7. Implement and document. Finally, we’re ready to do the things! But if we’re going to be as strategic (and therefore sustainable) as possible, we want to be objectively observing and perhaps even documenting the results to make sure that we’re on the right track. More about that in Emily’s blog post: When Enrichment Isn’t Enriching
  8. Reassess, readdress, and do it again. Needs don’t just go away after being met one time. It’d be amazing if we could sleep once and never sleep again! Alas, the world doesn’t work that way. We will always need to reassess, readdress, and do this framework over again to address any changes- desirable or undesirable- that we see in our pets.


Um. This seems like a lot of work. 

Remember how I said that we originally created this for professionals? That means that this framework is more involved because we as professionals need it to be this in-depth. And, realistically, the Pet Harmony team typically does the above steps in their head when working with a client so it can be a lot less work than it seems. 

So let’s break this down into something salient for the everyday pet parent…


What this looks like for the pet parent

What this looks like is going to depend on whether or not you’re working with a consultant who uses this or a similar framework. For example, if you’re working with a Pet Harmony consultant you don’t have to worry about any of this. They’ll bake it all into your behavior modification plan for you! 

If you’re DIYing this (no shame in that!), then here’s what it can look like:

  • Learn more about the different species-specific needs your pet has. I, of course, suggest our book Canine Enrichment for the Real World, but there are other resources out there, too!
  • List desirable and undesirable behaviors. We still need to know where we are and where we’re going. 
  • Of those undesirable behaviors, which are typical of the species? Dogs bark, dig, chew, and forage for food. Cats scratch. Parrots shred. If the undesirable behavior is a normal species-typical behavior, then search for alternatives that allow them to perform it in a more appropriate way. Or, are there skills that they could learn in a particular category that would help? For example, most people add extra physical exercise for dogs who have trouble settling when a lot of time they need to learn the skill of relaxing instead. If the undesirable behavior involves fear, aggression, and/or anxiety we will always recommend working with a qualified behavior professional. 
  • Experiment with one new activity at a time and observe your pet’s behavior during and after the exercise. Is the activity actually having the intended effect? If yes, fantastic! If no, tweak the details like who, what, when, where, and for how long to see if it works better that way. 
  • Go back to your list of desirable and undesirable behaviors to see how you’re doing. Do you need to do some more experimenting? If yes, do this process again. If you achieved your goals, celebrate and know that you’ll have to do this again for changes in your pet’s age, health, and environment. 

That seems a lot more reasonable as a pet parent, huh?


Now what?

  • If you’re interested in all things enrichment, make sure to join us in our companion Facebook group, and 
  • If you are a professional looking to incorporate an enrichment framework into your consulting, our Enrichment Framework for Behavior Modification Master Class is the complete A-Z course for force-free behavior consultants, from “how the heck do I implement this” to “how did I ever live without this?”


Combatting That Enrichment Guilt

If you prefer to listen to this post, click here.


I see a lot of people asking for more ideas for enrichment for their pets, especially on social media platforms. More variety. More ways to entertain their pets. And my question is always:

“Is your pet displaying behaviors that lead you to believe that they’re bored or their needs aren’t being met as well as they could be?”

And the answer is often, “no”. 

My next question is, “Then why are you looking for more ideas if what you’re doing right now is what your pet needs?”

Silence. Quizzical brow. And, for some folks, finally the answer of, “Because I feel guilty not doing it. I think that I should be.”

Oh boy, I’ve been there before. The Enrichment Guilt. 


A reminder about what enrichment is, and isn’t

In our book Canine Enrichment for the Real World, Emily and I adopted the practitioner-friendly definition of enrichment (so that it’s easier to put into practice!), which is: enrichment means meeting all of an animal’s mental, physical, and behavioral needs to empower them to perform species-typical behaviors in healthy, safe, and appropriate ways. 

In short, enrichment is about meeting all of an animal’s needs. 

Fun games and toys and activities can be a part of that enrichment strategy, but only if they’re actually meeting the needs of the individual. And only the individual can tell us if that’s true through their behavior. We don’t get to decide what does or does not meet their needs. 


The enrichment guilt

Enrichment has become a hot topic in the last few years in the pet-owning world. And that’s fantastic! We love it! But with all of those Instagram-worthy pics comes guilt from others wondering if they’re doing enough for their pets. Wondering if their pets aren’t living their best lives because they don’t have a social media-ready enrichment strategy. 

I’m here to tell you that you can be released from your enrichment guilt. You do not need an Instagram-worthy enrichment strategy (unless you want to). You do not need to have a ton of variety or new activities or toys for your pet (unless they say otherwise through their behavior). You do not need to search high and low for brand new, never-heard-of-before strategies if your pet’s behavior is saying that their needs are being met. Do what works for you and your individual pet without comparing yourself to everyone else. 


But I still feel like I should do more…

I get it. Even with knowing all this I still look at Oso and feel like I should be doing more for him. Guilt doesn’t just dissipate that easily. If you’re struggling to get out of the enrichment guilt spiral, then focus on anticipating future needs. 

Here’s what that can look like. Oso is getting older. He’s 9 this year and this is the first year we’ve noticed him starting to feel his age. He’s a big dog and mobility issues are a big deal for someone his size. Plus, he has to go down a few steps to get outside regardless of the door we use and everyone in the house likes him being up on the furniture for snuggles. 

Instead of waiting for mobility issues to become a problem, we’re being proactive. We bought stairs and started to teach him how to use those to get up and off of the bed. We’ll be able to use those for the car, too. Next on the list is a sling, for the inevitable day that we have to help him up and down the stairs. After that will likely be cooperative care training for old-man procedures that the vet will help us pinpoint. 

Because his current needs are met well on a day-to-day basis, we’re focusing on what he’ll need in the future and preparing for it now. And that assuages the enrichment guilt that I feel while making sure that I’m still being productive and working smarter, not harder. 


Now what?

  • If you’re on the hunt for new activities for your pet, ask yourself if it’s because you’re actually seeing behavior that suggests your pet is bored or needs tweaks to their enrichment plan or if it’s for you. 
  • If it’s for you, dig deeper into why you’re looking for new activities. Is it because of enrichment guilt?
  • If so, I release you from your enrichment guilt! Did it work? If yes, awesome. If not, then consider your pet’s future needs and start preparing for them. 
  • Professionals: if you’re ready to take your enrichment game with your clients to the next level, be sure to join our waitlist for our upcoming Enrichment Framework for Behavior Modification MasterClass: 

Happy training!


Enrichment Webinar

3 Strategies to Uplevel Your Consulting Skills to Solve Behavior Challenges:

Happier pets, enthusiastic clients, & a more rewarding career using the Pet Harmony Enrichment Framework

Live Webinar for Force-Free Behavior Consultants

Click a time below to register!

This webinar is a must attend if...

Animal welfare starts with enrichment

Enrichment is all about meeting an individual’s needs. We can’t expect pets (or their parents!) to be at their behavioral best if their needs aren’t being met. And, oftentimes, that’s the key for cases that aren’t going as planned.

That’s where the enrichment framework comes in. This framework is about meeting everyone’s needs- the pet’s, the client’s, and yours- to solve behavior problems efficiently and effectively. 

Join us as we discuss key strategies straight out of the enrichment framework that will help you become an even better behavior consultant so that you can help more pets and their people.

In this webinar, you'll learn:


The Major Mindset Shift

All consultants need to learn this major mindset shift first to successfully use enrichment to its fullest extent.


Confidence-Boosting Strategy

This strategy will help you stay cool, calm, and collected while you troubleshoot something that didn’t go as planned.


Real-Life Examples of the Enrichment Framework in Action

Having trouble envisioning how this works with real clients and their pets? We’ll give you plenty of real-life examples so you can picture exactly how these strategies fit into your work as a consultant.


Our #1 Tip

This is our #1 tip to keep clients happy, working with you, and ultimately referring to you.

Click a time below to register!

Allie pic with Oso

Meet Your Instructor

Allie Bender, CDBC, CPDT-KA, SBA

Allie Bender is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, Certified Professional Dog Trainer- Knowledge Assessed, and a Shelter Behavior Affiliate. She has been in the animal welfare industry since 2006 and professionally training since 2012. She is the founder and co-owner of Pet Harmony, co-author of Canine Enrichment for the Real World, and a national speaker.

While in the animal sheltering industry, Allie realized that her passion lied in helping pets with maladaptive behaviors. Specifically, she wanted to help prevent animals with rehabilitatable problems from being euthanized. She loves working with dogs and cats displaying stranger danger, resource guarding, and leash reactivity. Her favorite thing about working with pets and their people is seeing relationships grow and seeing harmonious households develop.

Copyright 2022 Pet Harmony, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Terms & ConditionsPrivacy Policy

Results are not guaranteed because behavior, human, canine, or otherwise, are not guaranteeable.

Enrichment Worksheets

CEftRW Worksheet Pic

Free Fillable PDF Packet

Canine Enrichment for the Real World Workbook Worksheets

Build your strategic and sustainable enrichment strategy using worksheets from our workbook!

We’ll send you some additional resources in the next couple of weeks based on if you’re working on your personal dog’s strategy or building enrichment plans for your clients.

Don’t worry- you get the same worksheets no matter who you work with!

Featured In:

Hi there! We're Emily Strong & Allie Bender

You could say we know a thing or two about sustainable enrichment plans.

When Canine Enrichment for the Real World came out in 2019, we didn’t really know what to expect. We had the amazing opportunity to write the book that we wanted to write–to write about enrichment the way it was intended and to let the dog world know that it’s so much more than food puzzles and playgroups. 

And while we certainly didn’t expect the great success and accolades our book received (thanks to people like you, by the way!), we especially didn’t expect all of the questions we got about the human part of a canine enrichment strategy. 

How do I meet my dog’s needs while making sure it doesn’t become a full-time job? How can I create a plan that I can do every day for a year? How can I implement this with my clients, who all have different needs and abilities?

The more we listened, the more we agreed that Canine Enrichment for the Real World needed a companion workbook. A guide to help folks answer those questions; a step-by-step strategy to create sustainable enrichment plans. 

And, if you’re anything like us, you’ll want to use that strategy over and over again. These worksheets are to help you put our Pet Harmony Enrichment Framework into action as many times as you want throughout the course of your dog’s life or with as many dogs as you want. Plus, nothing like a fillable PDF to save some trees and clutter 😉 

Happy training!

Allie & Emily

In this fillable PDF packet, you'll get:


Our most popular enrichment worksheet

This is the worksheet that has both pet parents and pet professionals alike wondering where it’s been all their life. Our “Are Needs Being Met Checklist” takes out the guesswork when it comes to figuring out where to start in your dog’s enrichment journey.


Finally, a way to clearly answer if a pet's agency needs are met

One of the #1 questions we’ve gotten over the years is, “How do I know if my pet has the right level of agency?” We get it. Agency can be kind of an esoteric topic. With our agency flowchart you will be able to answer that question for yourself no matter the scenario.


Reusable resources for any dog you're working with

In addition to your free fillable pdf packet, we’ll send you additional resources in the next few weeks about working with your personal dog or with a client’s dog. You get to choose which path would be most beneficial for you. 

Copyright 2022 Pet Harmony, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Terms & ConditionsPrivacy Policy

Results are not guaranteed because behavior, human and animal, is not guaranteeable.

Enrichment Framework for Behavior Modification Masterclass

Level Up Your Behavior Consultant Career with Pet Enrichment for Behavior Modification


Course Registration Ends In...


As a force-free pet behavior consultant, you know that enrichment is a critical part of every behavior modification plan—but how do you make the enrichment portion of your client's plans as effective as possible?


You Can Incorporate Pet Enrichment Into Your Plans and Still Fail to Solve Behavior Problems

This comes down to misconceptions about pet enrichment activities. Enrichment is a powerful tool that offers more than entertainment, variety, or a way to keep your pet busy.

If used strategically, these activities can help you achieve training results faster, make pets happier, and keep pet owners engaged throughout the entire process.

The issue is that most behavior consultants aren’t tapping into the true power of pet enrichment.

Most are using enrichment as another step in the plan instead of using it as the plan itself.

I put [the Enrichment Master Class] on par with Living and Learning with Animals.

“I put [the Enrichment Master Class] on par with Living and Learning with Animals. The thing I love the most [is] how you have given us the tools AND [Allie] and Emily have broken your process into small steps for us to learn exactly what we should do for the owners and their animals.”



The key is to incorporate enrichment into your training plans through our Enrichment Framework

Hodge-podging different techniques and throwing all your ideas at the problem won’t work. At least not as quickly or efficiently as you would like.

Instead, you need a strategic approach—a framework—that can be replicated with each case so you cover all the ground you need to while troubleshooting for each individual animal’s specific needs.

With our Enrichment Master Class, you’ll learn how to apply the Enrichment Framework to your clients’ training plans so you are equipped to meet their needs faster.

Even if you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to continuing education.

This Master Class is for You if...

You're committed to helping other people improve their lives with their pets

You consider yourself a LIMA, force-free, fear-free R+ professional

You believe in addressing the animal as a whole instead of targeting behaviors individually

You want to be the best behavior professional you can be and consider continued education to be an integral part of that

Our Enrichment Framework Was Designed With You In Mind


We're Here to Help You Simplify Behavior Modification Training so You Can Meet the Needs of Owners and Their Animals at the Same Time


Us R+, Force-free, or consent-based consultants are known to be a little extra. And I mean extra work, extra time, and extra effort for our clients.

And y’know what clients don’t want? Extra.

If we want LIMA methodologies to rule the pet training world and have more forceful or aversive methods fall by the wayside, we need to focus on meeting our clients’ and their pets’ needs—and meet them fast.

Most consultants know that enrichment is all about unmet needs but still struggle with fully embracing the concept. They tend to fall back onto the common “enrichment activities” mindset instead of seeing the connection between pet enrichment and behavior modification.

The Enrichment Framework is geared towards achieving outcomes quickly, using enrichment effectively, and taking unnecessary pressure off of pet parents.

This is what makes our program a game-changer for any pet behavior consulting career.

As Seen On

Meet Your Instructors


Allie Bender, CDBC, CPDT-KA, SBA

Allie Bender is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, Certified Professional Dog Trainer- Knowledge Assessed, and a Shelter Behavior Affiliate. She has been in the animal welfare industry since 2006 and professionally training since 2012. She is the founder and co-owner of Pet Harmony, co-author of Canine Enrichment for the Real World, and a national speaker.

While in the animal sheltering industry, Allie realized that her passion lied in helping pets with maladaptive behaviors. Specifically, she wanted to help prevent animals with rehabilitatable problems from being euthanized. She loves working with dogs and cats displaying stranger danger, resource guarding, and leash reactivity. Her favorite thing about working with pets and their people is seeing relationships grow and seeing harmonious households develop.

Emily Strong, CDBC, SBA

Emily Strong is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant and Shelter Behavior Affiliate. She has been in the animal welfare industry since 1990 and has been a behavior consultant since 2008. She is the co-owner of Pet Harmony, co-author of Canine Enrichment for the Real World, and a national speaker. 

Emily started working with animals at a young age and struggled with the notion that you have to hurt, scare, or intimidate animals to help them. When she discovered the behavior sciences and learned that it wasn’t necessary to do so– that we can care for emotional, mental, and physical health simultaneously– she plunged headfirst into animal behavior. Emily loves helping current and prospective behavior professionals and working with pet parents through our in-depth services. She enjoys working with all species. 

I realized that this course is appropriate for anyone working with dogs and their people to address behavioural wellness.

“I was worried that some information wouldn’t pertain to me or that I wouldn’t “fit in” because I’m a dog trainer and not behaviour consultant. Once the learning started I realized that this course is appropriate for anyone working with dogs and their people to address behavioural wellness.”


This Program Tackles the 4 Reasons Most Behavior Consultants Struggle to
Implement Pet Enrichment Strategically



Mindset shifts take time, patience, and work. It’s not enough to just *know* that enrichment means meeting all of an animal’s needs and not just coming up with more pet enrichment ideas. We need to be able to frame our consulting around this mindset if we’re going to use enrichment strategically. We need to not only recognize the power of pet enrichment for behavior modification, but make it the foundation of our behavior modification plans.



Laser focus can be great, but it’s not always great for a behavior modification plan. When we lose sight of the individual as a whole we can make our jobs– and our clients’ lives– harder. 



Your client’s behavior modification plan needs to be like airplane oxygen masks: they need to put theirs on first before helping those around them. If we can’t meet our client’s needs, there’s no way that they can meet their pet’s needs. Helping them understand the connection between enrichment and behavior modification – and see it in action – is a great first step toward meeting their needs.



You can write the greatest behavior modification plan in all of history, but if your client doesn’t do it then it’s not that great at all. We can’t meet pet needs if we don’t make our plan sustainable for their humans.

Force-free Consultants Aren't Really Known for Putting Their Clients First and We're Here to Change That


Yes, you’ll learn the strategies behind everything we do. But more importantly, you’ll have a meticulous, step-by-step, implementation framework that leaves nothing out and takes nothing for granted as you use it with your clients.

All while prioritizing your clients’ needs alongside the needs of their pets.

This course was a cup filler for me.

I really enjoyed the format of the course – it was paced very well and I felt that I looked forward to it each week. You’ve managed to create something really special in this course where it brings a feel of community and inspiration. This course was a cup filler for me.

I’ve changed the way I work with clients to be more descriptive. In doing so, I am feeling more confident in my cases and I feel that I’m truly giving my clients the tools they need to be successful.”


But That's Not All, We Have Extras for You


A welcoming community that is rooting for your success and is there to help you achieve it!

Every week Allie & Emily will host multiple implementation sessions to answer all of your questions, go over homework, help you with your cases, and anything else you need to implement the Enrichment Framework!

Two real case studies so you can see exactly how we implement the Pet Enrichment Framework with our clients. 

We've Got Something Extra Special for Our Friends That Pay in Full...


Get that extra edge over your competition with our most requested training resources on top of the Enrichment Master Class that will improve how you approach your pets and your people.

Join the Enrichment Framework for Behavior Modification Class Today


Access to 8 Exclusive Course Modules


WEEK 1: What is the Enrichment Framework

WEEK 2: How clients fit into the Enrichment Framework

WEEK 3: Using the Enrichment Framework in your initial session

WEEK 4: The consultant viewpoint vs. the client viewpoint

WEEK 5: Implementation & documentation

WEEK 6: Troubleshooting the plan

WEEK 7: Keeping the client engaged

WEEK 8: Navigating difficult conversations

Wednesdays 4-6 pm CDT

Time Zone Converter

 January 18, 2023 – March 15, 2023 (off week of 2/15)

3 Bonuses to Tie
Everything Together


2 months access to EMC-Exclusive FB Community to hold you accountable, keep you motivated, and connect you with your fellow enrichment lovers.


Live Implementation Sessions with Allie and Emily every week to review homework, answer all your questions, assist you with your cases, and whatever else you need to effectively apply the Enrichment Framework to your own business.


Course-Exclusive Case Studies to give you real world examples of how we implement the Enrichment Framework with our clients. Included are case studies with dog-focused & human-focused approaches.

The Full Pet Enrichment Framework

  • Weekly live sessions
  • PDF copy of slides 
  • Audio-only version of sessions
  • Optional weekly homework activities
  • Certificate of completion
  • Logo to market your enrichment skillz
  • 1 year access to all recordings
  • CEUs: 30 CCPDT, 28 IAABC & KPA, 24 PPAB

Your Investment is Valued at More Than $5,200


Registration is closed for January 2023

[This course] changed that for me by again re-inspiring me to dust off those skills...

“With COVID the last couple of years I wasn’t sure if I would ever return to pet owner consulting again. [This course] also changed that for me by again re-inspiring me to dust off those skills and I realized how much I do actually like it.”


What You Invest Will Return to You—Over and Over Again—Throughout The Rest of Your Career

(30 CCPDT, 24 IAABC & KPA, 24 PPAB)

The skills you learn in this course can be applied to any client you work with in the future. You will be equipped to help more people and their pets achieve the results they want to see more quickly and effectively, which translates to much more revenue over time!

Frequently Asked Questions

Live weekly sessions for this round are on Wednesdays from 4-6 pm CDT. (Click here for a time zone converter) Weekly sessions are 1/18/23 – 3/15/23 and we will be off during the 2/15 implementation week.

Not a problem! We record all live sessions so you can watch the recordings. Plus, you’ll have 1 year of access after the course ends to access those recordings.

Nope. If you already know some behavior modification techniques and want to be able to use a pet enrichment framework with anyone you work with (i.e. volunteers, fosters, adopters, etc.) then you can benefit from this course.

Nope! If you think this course will help your career then you are invited and more than welcome to join!

No, this is a standalone course. Our book is full of theory, studies, and activities. But this course is all about implementation. So as long as you trust that we know what we’re talking about, you can go back after the course and read about the theory.

Not at all. Enrichment was originally developed in zoos for a wide array of different species. You can apply what you learn in this course to any species you work with.

Not currently, but we are hoping to offer scholarships in the future!

The 14-Day "Not for Me" Guarantee

We get that not all courses nor all teachers are for all students. If after attending live sessions or watching the recordings you don’t think that this is the right course for you, we will refund your money within the first 14 days of the course starting.

[This course] has been one of the best investments...that I've made in my career.

“I had invested in a lot of continuing education last year that was good, but I often had remorse about spending money on them afterwards so I was nervous to invest in this course. But [this course] has been one of the best investments in CE that I’ve made in my career.”


Ready to Become a Better Behavior Consultant with Enrichment Strategies You Can Implement For the
Rest of Your Career?


Need help ordering or have questions?

Email us at [email protected]

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Pet Harmony Animal Behavior & Training | Helping you and your pet live harmoniously.

Copyright 2022 Pet Harmony, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Terms & ConditionsPrivacy Policy

Results are not guaranteed because behavior, human, canine, or otherwise, are not guaranteeable.