I write this today because it was recently brought to my attention that I make my dogs work too hard for their dinner. My parents think it seemed more cruel than appropriate that using a dog’s food for enrichment and feeding activities is cruel because it’s forcing them to do things against their will in order to eat. This blog will discuss various ways to stimulate your dog’s brain and mental. The majority of the the products will be canine enrichment through the use of food.
According to Wikipedia, the definition of enrichment is to make something better, more rewarding or more meaningful. The purpose of canine enrichment, therefore, is to make a dog’s life better, more rewarding and meaningful.
In the twenty-first century, the majority of our dogs are kept as pets and companions to our families. The majority of our dogs don’t have a job working alongside us. They can’t usually go to the office with us. The majority of families in the United States believe a dog only needs the emotional affection of the family members. Few families supply physical enrichment such as running, fetch, play dates with other dogs. How many of us have even thought about the mental stimulation needs of our dogs? I wish I remembered where I read the following comparison. They compared the life of a dog to the of a rug; day after day dogs lie around the house and occasionally trip us over.
Dogs are unique because they have learned to be completely dependent on us to provide for them. Dogs are not rugs; they still have the most amazingly complex brains which like all brains, requires stimulation to make it work properly. As owners, we more times than not just plonk the food down in a bowl. 30 seconds of something to do and then… nothing.
We have split this blog into four sections. Canine Feeding Devices, Treat Puzzles, Electric Remote Dispensing Devices, and finally the Do-It-Yourself Homemade Devices.
Canine Feeding Devices & Slow Feeders
The following examples of Canine Feeding Devices that make the dog work in some way for their food. These devices are also useful for our dogs that love to eat in “Super Speed Mode.”
DOG PUZZLE SECTION
The following are simple devices you can find on the market:
Lets face it, dogs are not free to do as they please. Lets face it, they are basically captive animals similar to those exotic animals in zoos. Even in the modern zoos, they are expected to offer some sort of enrichment activities for their captive animals. These activities and enrichment programs go some way toward improving the animal’s lives and replacing activities they might do in the wild, such as foraging for food. Its purpose is to maintain physical and mental health. It helps prevent boredom and behavioral problems which often stem from a lack of mental stimulation. This is of course is the very least we can do for animals kept in captivity.
Now don’t our pet dogs deserve the same? Don’t they deserve to use their brain? Our dogs are part of our family. What would you think would happen if you left a three in the kitchen with a pack of Crayola Markers, a coloring book, and you walked away for three hours? Eventually that child will become bored and begin to use their artistic freelance skills on your kitchen table and walls. Why? because they were not given ample opportunity for stimulating enrichment.
Dogs, just like children and animals in zoos, need something interesting to do with their day. Without any sort of mental stimulation, our dogs can often develop behavior problems, depression, stress and general poor welfare. Doesn’t our pet dogs also deserve enrichment? Shouldn’t our dog’s life be as interesting, stimulating and worthwhile as possible?
Now a days, dogs are kept safely indoors and the lucky ones might get to go for a walk with their human each day. But what do they do for the rest of their time? How do they fill the activity void? Where do they get their mental stimulation? Look at the work ethic of some of the working breeds such as the Border Collie or Springer Spaniel. Is it really likely that our pet dogs are so far removed from the working lines that they are happy to do absolutely nothing with their life.
We don’t live in a perfect world and most dogs don’t get the stimulation or exercise they need. Approximately 45% of all dogs are thought to be overweight. Instead of feeding from a bowl, use that food to get their mind working.
Some very simple things can make a real difference. Weigh out the daily food (so you are not under or over-feeding) and….
You can hide around the house and play find
You can wrap it in a towel
You can use it for training
You can take it on your walk
You can scatter it across the floor
You can make a food trail, stuff it in a Kong® and let them eat when you eat
You can put it in your empty food boxes and let the dog rip it open.
You can place your cushions on the floor with a piece of food under each one
You can use a stack of plastic cups with food between each cup
You can save the empty toilet rolls and hide food inside.
Allow them to stop and sniff and be interested in things; it doesn’t have too be difficult or immensely time-consuming, let them chill-out when they want to but make life interesting and make it worthwhile.
The vast majority of animals spend a huge proportion of their time trying to acquire enough food; you could say, it’s what they live for. No species in the history of the world has ever needed food placed in front of them in a bowl. Dogs are no different.
Canine Enrichment does more than just alleviate boredom. Animal Shelters have reported that enrichment use can make actually dogs more adoptable. It can also help dogs live a longer, happier life, and even improve your bond. Enrichment doesn’t take a lot of time or money. Many of these tips are low maintenance and take just a few minutes, but will go a long way with your dogs.
Kongs are so useful that we had to make a section just for this product. Fill your Kong with anything, and stick it in the freezer. You got yourself a device to occupy your dog’s time. The photos below are courtesy of AS.
TECHNOLOGY ADVANCEMENT ENRICHMENT DEVICES
All For Paws Interactives
EVER PLAY A SLOT MACHINE??? This is a slot machine for dogs with a 100% chance of winning every time.
A Smart way to teach your dog new tricks.Place the wireless button a few feet from the lucky treat, when its light turns on ask your dog to push on it. when he does he will be rewarded with treats that comes out of the lucky treat base. Your dog will always be the winner.
So, is canine enrichment cruel? or is it crucial?
Each and every product shown and discussed on this page has been tried and tested by one of my four legged friends. A special thanks to you for continually encouraging me and supporting me over the past year or so. Your words and actions will never be forgotten. BYE FELICIA!!
Disclosure: I am not an English major so grammar is not my best attribute. Please email me if you find any grammatical errors. Please email me if you have any comments, concerns, or questions. I can be reached at email@example.com