What is it?
Providing your dog with environmental stimulation and activity to improve its wellbeing.
Wild dogs spend a lot of time finding and eating food each day. However our domestic dogs spend just a few seconds eating food from a bowl, which means they are left with an enormous amount of excess time.
This excess time can result in:
* Boredom and
* Problem behaviours (e.g. Digging, barking, destructiveness).
Environmental enrichment can prevent, reduce, if not eliminate such behaviours.
“But my dog has a big back yard....” -this is the most common comment that we hear. Would leaving a toddler in a big room with no toys be any different than leaving them in a small room with no toys? No.
The space is not the issue; it is the quality of the space.
The aim of environmental enrichment:
Dogs require both physical, social and mental stimulation requirements every day. The aim is to provide your dog with complexity, unpredictability and choice in its home environment.
* Physical enrichment: a tired dog is a happy dog!
o Daily play sessions with owners
o Daily walks - minimum of 30 minutes per day (this does not mean 2 hours once a week, it means EVERYDAY). If you have troubles walking your dog on lead then get help!
o Games (can be in the backyard or at the park on long lead) – e.g. Ball throwing, Frisbee
o Trick training
o Obedience training
o Agility training
o Fly ball, doggy dancing
* Mental enrichment: Keep that mind busy!
o Food dispensing toys
* Buster Cubes
o Home-made feeders from empty plastic bottles with lid off
* Can also hang these so dog has to knock food from
o Scattering food on the lawn
o Raw marrowbones
o Nylon bones, rawhide chews
o Ice blocks with dog food/vegies
o Empty cardboard boxes to tear up – can hide food treats inside
o Sandpits/wading pools – use a kids clam shell
o Squeaky toys, rope toys, etc.
o Hide food around the yard
o ROTATE TOYS EVERY COUPLE OF DAYS o See www.petsneedalifetoo.com.au for more ideas.
Note – it is a good idea to feed most of your dog’s daily food allowance through activity feeding, rather than in a bowl. Make them ‘work’ for their food.
* Social enrichment: Dogs are social animals; so don’t punish them with solitary confinement.
o Allow your dog inside when you are home. If your dog is too boisterous to come inside then get some help on ways to encourage your dog to be relaxed when inside. Some simple methods to try are:
* Letting your dog inside after it has played (avoid letting inside when it is having a ‘crazy’ moment.
* Put your dog on a leash when inside.
* Give your dog something to chew when inside (e.g. Food dispensing toy).
* Use baby gates to control the rooms your dog is in.
o Doggy daycare, crèche.
o Play dates – take your dog to a friend’s house or vice versa whilst you are at work. Note – supervise initial play sessions and ensure dogs are compatible before leaving them unsupervised.
o A companion dog – be careful as sometimes then you may have ‘double-trouble’. Get some advice on this before doing.
o Grooming sessions
o A ‘view’ of the world – some dogs benefit from being able to see outside their yard.
* Note – some dogs will bark more at passers-by – this is not desirable.
IT TAKES SOME EFFORT TO PROVIDE ENVIRONMENTAL ENRICHMENT BUT THE RESULTS ARE WELL WORTH IT – PARTICULARLY FOR YOUR DOG’S SANITY!!