Enrichment 

Through the domestication of dogs by humans, dogs have gone from spending their days seeking food, water, shelter and a partner for reproduction to being kept in a backyard or house while we continue with our busy lives. Meaning that for companion animals, all essential resources are generally provided by humans. Physiologically dogs still require an outlet for energy and mental stimulation and as such there is a need to make sure daily enrichment is provided in the form of exercise and mental stimulation to offer a balance for energy expenditure that could otherwise lead to boredom and behavioural issues. When designing enrichment strategies for your puppy, it is best to develop activities that result in a primary reinforcement. These can include food, water, foraging, sniffing/scenting, attention, etc. A 20-30 minute enrichment is the equivalent of a two-hour walk and is extremely tiring for your puppy. Plus when your puppy is doing the enrichment they physically can’t be engaged in doing undesirable behaviours instead. When your puppy sniffs and licks it releases a feel good hormone, similar to the feeling we get when we exercise. 

Food based enrichment: Domesticated dogs tend to receive their entire daily allowance of food in a single event usually consumed in a short period of time - usually from a bowl. The dog now has many extra hours in its daily routine to devote to other behaviours. It is advised that you ditch your puppy’s food bowl and make them work to get and eat their food. An enrichment that takes your puppy 20-30minutes to complete is equivalent to a 2 hour walk with your puppy. Your puppy’s food is distributed over a longer period of time. Meaning that their attention is focused on something positive and constructive for that time (when they are focusing on the enrichment they can’t be doing undesirable behaviours) and they are using up lots of mental and physical energy so when they do have downtime, it is positive downtime. The food is not available as one or two large meals but is instead available randomly, increasing vigilance in your puppy. Like we get up and go to work in the day, this is equivalent to your puppy going to work. I sell lots of different food based enrichments that you generally can’t buy from pet stores. 

Please find the link with available enrichments for purchase (though it is not live yet so you will have to contact me if you would like to order anything): 

www.goinmuttz.com.au/online-store 

*Insert photos of DIY Enrichment*

Examples of food to use in enrichments:

  • Sardines

  • Low fat greek yoghurt

  • Low fat cottage cheese

  • Apple sauce

  • Sweet potato

  • Pumpkin

  • Kangaroo mince

  • Chicken

  • Vegemite

  • Oats

  • Chicken stock

  • Banana

  • Berries

  • Apple

  • Carrot

  • Celery

  • Cucumber

 

Here are some great pages and people to follow for inspiration:

  1. https://www.instagram.com/bindisbucketlist/?hl=en

  2. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1747279312231501/

  3. https://www.facebook.com/groups/canineenrichment/

  4. https://www.facebook.com/Canine-Enrichment-265537863906028/

     

Toy related enrichment: Although many puppies will happily play with toys when stimulated by company, it is unlikely that a puppy will hold its interest on the toy long term if left to play with it by itself. The reason being is that the puppy has had to learn that toys are good and that is usually through humans interacting with them and making it exciting and meaningful. A toy doesn’t move, bounce around, make noises or create resistance by itself it is us who add those properties to the toys. Using a box of toys that are rotated every few days, if not everyday can help increase a puppy’s interest. This will help ensure that your puppy is not getting bored of the same toys. By swapping them up you are creating a novelty in the toys that are out. I sell toys that have a bigger purpose and job behind them than just the fluffy stuffed toys that you can get from the pet stores. 

Interactive dog enrichment: Depending on both the owner’s preference and the dog’s nature and interest there are lots of different enrichments that you can do and incorporate in everyday life. You need to be mindful of your puppy’s response and liking. Just because you like doing it does not mean that your puppy will like it automatically. Such enrichments include: 

● Daily walks and jogs 

● Allowing your dog to stop and sniff on outings 

● Going to the dog park or beach 

● Agility 

● Obedience 

● Scent games 

● Interactive games such as fetch, tug, etc. 

● Grooming and social interaction and affection 

● Bringing items home for your puppy to sniff such as trees, leaves, clothes, etc.