Providing your dog with adequate and appropriate enrichment and entertainment will ensure your dog is healthier, happier and easier to live with.
Dogs come with lots of inbuilt behaviours, many of which, as humans, we don’t care for. Therefore, dogs need to have an appropriate outlet to help prevent unwanted behaviour. Enrichment techniques will help to calm and settle your dog and ensure that they are behaviourally healthy, and so easier to live with.
Keep your dog stimulated and entertained while they eat! Remove their food bowl and give them their food using some of the suggestions below. They will enjoy working for their food and earning meals through games and training exercises.
- Scavenger hunts
- Scatter feeding
- Scenting games
- Food dispensing toys
- Interactive toys
- Walks & outings
Some benefits of not using a food bowl:
- Feeding from food bowls does not contribute to a positive interaction between dog and new owner.
- Feeding from food bowls wastes hundreds of reward opportunities by presenting them for free all in one go!
- Feeding from food bowls encourage a sedentary way of life for pets.
- Feeding from food bowls limits the range of behaviours that dogs need to carry out making it more likely for these behaviours to be displayed in other, possibly unwanted ways.
Tips for increasing your dog’s entertainment and enjoyment
- The simplest enrichment strategy is to take your dog’s meal and scatter it on the floor or ground and let them hunt it down.
- You can use your dog’s regular kibble for training, however you may get more success when using it for enrichment, by adding a tasty treat to it for this specific use.
- Hide your dog’s meals, rewards, chews or stuffed toys in different spots around the house and garden, or around their confinement area.
Set up organised sniffing games to get your dog’s nose working.
- Food dispensing toys fall into two categories depending on the sort of behaviour they encourage:
- Pacifying toys encourage the dog to lie down, to lap and chew. These include stuffed or lined or frozen Kong toys and similar.
- Activating toys encourage the dog to move around and to manipulate the toy, for example a Kong Wobbler.
Canine enrichment is a well-documented topic online so get googling.