dog running in the snowTouch/Tactile

One of the functions of the tactile sense is to convey the sensation of comfort. Dogs can experience this through physical contact with a human, another animal or an object, or the environment itself. Incorporating pleasant tactile experiences can promote behavioural well-being for the dogs in our care.

Here are some examples of how the touch/tactile sense can be stimulated:


Splash Works  dog icon

dog laying in kiddy pool

Most dogs love to play in the water, and introducing a variety of “water” options can provide an enriching and stimulating experience.

  • Kiddie pools in the outdoor play area
  • Sprinklers
  • Buckets
  • Large water bowls

Add floating toys, balls, or ice cube treats to increase the fun!

Exercise Yard  dog icon

dog standing on agility ladder

An exercise yard provides the opportunity for dogs and puppies to engage in their sense of touch by experiencing different surfaces and the textures of various objects such as toys and agility equipment. They can also engage in touch-related behaviours such as pawing, digging, and mouthing. There are many other benefits to exercise yards. They allow dogs to have:

  • Time outside of their primary kennel, and can be with or without human interaction
  • Much-needed aerobic exercise and consequently, they are more relaxed while in their kennel (this is particularly beneficial for those that are challenged by confinement)
  • The opportunity to express normal behaviours, such as running, playing and smelling
  • Outdoor environmental stimulation of all five of their senses, which is very enriching

Add floating toys, balls, or ice cube treats to increase the fun!

The Toy Box  dog icon

dog toy box

Find a printable version of The Toy Box.

The following has been adapted from material on the ASPCApro website.

A toy box provides the opportunity for dogs and puppies to engage in their sense of touch by experiencing textures of various toys and treats. Rotating toys through the kennels is an easy way to make kennel life more interesting for animal centre dogs. You can provide even more interest and entertainment for dogs and puppies by offering them their own toy box to choose from.


  • Plastic milk crate, cardboard box, or other container
  • A variety of dog toys, rubber bones, balls, plush toys, etc.
  • Other chewables, stuffed KONG®, or treat dispensing toys
  • A few treats


  1. Place toy box in kennel with a range of toys and treats to choose from. The act of helping themselves to something in the toy box is in itself enriching.
  2. Rotate toys once daily or more frequently if you have the time. For example, in addition to swapping toys during cleaning, you can replace the toys a second time when dogs leave their kennels for daily exercise. That way, when they return to the kennel, they find a surprise waiting for them.
  3. Hide a treat under toys to make the experience more engaging for the dog.

stop sign iconAn enrichment schedule can be very helpful! It allows you to:

  • Track the rotation of toys so that all dogs see a different toy each day. Staff or volunteers can swap out toy boxes as part of their daily kennel care and cleaning schedule
  • Record individual preferences and needs of each individual dog. Remember that it’s not enrichment if the dog doesn’t interact with the toy. If a dog doesn’t show interest in a certain toy or type of toy, remove it and try a different one

Section Feature