By Kirstie Gregory, Mar 31 2017 04:09PM
Environmental Enrichment For Dogs
At the start of my career working with animals I worked at an animal shelter. I was asked to complete a mini project on environmental enrichment for dogs in kennels. For dogs in kennels it is crucial to keep them mentally stimulated to avoid boredom and minimize stress. For dogs in the home they should have less stressful and more fulfilling lives , but even a happy dog can become bored or stressed. As a dog owner myself it gives me great pleasure to see my dog exploring something new with his senses or to excercise his brain to solve a puzzle .
As you probably know a dogs sense of smell is far superior to ours and dogs use this sense to explore their surroundings. Dogs get pleasure from using their nose. It has been scientifically proven that games involving sniffing out something can increase endorphins in your dogs brain.So why not introduce a game like 'find it' into your dogs day? 'Find it' is a very simple but highly enjoyable game for your dog where you throw a tasty treat to the ground whilst saying "find it". For the first few times you should throw it so it lands close to your dog and point to it to help him. My dog Indie loves this game and it can be a great distraction tool. It can be great if used on a walk when you see for example a cat in the distance and don't want your dog to see it or become too wound up. A more advanced version of 'find it' can be where you tell your dog to wait outside a room and hide treats in the room. Your dog is then allowed into the room and you used the command 'find it' and point in the area you have hidden the treats. Once your dog has played this a few times remove the pointing and simply use the 'find it' command once the dog enters the room.
There are so many great treat toys available for dogs. I love Nina Ottosons range. We have the Dog Brick and Whirlwind for our dog. Kongs are a classic and are perfect for filling with treats, peanut butter
or even just your dogs food. But you don't have to spend money to provide your dog with mental stimulation. Toilet roll tubes are great instead of kongs. I put some of my dogs biscuits inside and fold over the ends of the tube so it looks like a parcel. You can even use scrunched up paper with tasty treats inside or a small cardboard box (remove any tape or staples) upside down with treats underneath!
A mentally stimulated dog is a happy dog!