Trainer shares six enrichment ideas to keep your canine calm and settled this Christmas

Cheerful woman sat beside Christmas tree holding Chihuahua
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Christmas is a time of great excitement for many of us, from children to adults and even our pets. 

In fact, with all the new sights, sounds, and smells, various visitors dropping by – and a few of the best dog treats up for grabs – dogs can easily get overexcited this time of year. It’s understandable and natural, but it might get frustrating to have your dog under your feet constantly – or even dangerous if you’re walking around with hot food and drink, there’s alcohol around, or you’ve got small children or elderly people visiting. 

But there are things you can do to help keep your dog calm and tire them out, making sure they’re content and won’t be rushing under your feet this festive season. And expert trainer Nikki Mather, the founder of Positive Steps Dog Training, has given some recommendations for her favorite enrichment activities for dogs in a new Instagram post. 

1. Frozen LickiMats: Are snuffle mats good for dogs? They certainly are, as they tap into your pup’s natural instincts. And if your dog likes wet food, you could freeze a LickiMat so that your dog can lick the food off gradually.

2. Treats rolled in a towel or cardboard tube: You don’t need to buy any fancy toys — just roll a line of treats into a towel, which you could even put in a loose not, and let your dog explore to find the treats inside! Or, put treats in a cardboard tube, close it at each end, and puncture some treat-size holes in. As they play with the tube, they’ll find some yummy snacks. 

3. Enrichment boxes or bowls: When exploring food enrichment for dogs, boxes and bowls can be great options! Put some treats (and toys) in a box for your dog to dig, or put your dog’s food in an enrichment bowl to give them some cognitive stimulation. 

4. Snuffle balls: Snuffle balls aren’t too expensive, and we think they’re worth the money! As your dog plays with the ball, they’ll find treats in the various compartments. 

5. Puzzle toys: Keep your pup entertained with one of the best dog puzzle toys – there are plenty to choose from! Mather recommends the Toppl, a hardy toy that you can stuff with treats, and the Kong Wobbler, which sits upright and can be packed with food – great to mentally stimulate your pup. 

6. Carrots: Can dogs eat carrots? They absolutely can – and they make a healthy, nutritious snack for our pups. Frozen carrots are an inexpensive chew toy alternative, while even just a whole carrot from the fridge will keep your canine content. 

No matter the enrichment idea you plump for, you can increase the chances of a peaceful Christmas this year. And, your dog is sure to love you for it!

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering pets, lifestyle, health and culture, and he has six years' experience in journalism. He was senior editor at, and has written for The Independent, GoodToKnow and Healthline

He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' golden retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.