Is it time to ditch your bowl? Give enrichment feeding a try! The old saying “a tired dog is a good/happy dog” once meant that you should do as much physical activity as possible to tire your dog out. Research now shows that there are many other ways to “tire out your dog” and reduce boredom through various types of enrichment activities.
Is it time to ditch your bowl? Give enrichment feeding a try!
The key to a happy and healthy dog is regular enrichment and allowing them to engage in their innate behaviors, such as playing, chasing, smelling, chewing and scavenging. By allowing your dog to engage in these behaviors, you allow them to be physically, emotionally and mentally satisfied. Dogs who don’t receive stimulation tend to find ways to enrich themselves, resulting in unwanted behaviors.
Canine enrichment is a broad term used to describe methods that enhance a dog’s life. This includes their biological need for nutrition, shelter and medical care. In addition to basic husbandry, there are four other categories of enrichment – emotional, social, physical and mental.
- Emotional enrichment includes the love, trust and security of a safe and happy home. Social enrichment is met through bonding and play with both humans and other dogs. Human play includes things like fetch, tug, flirt poles, sprinkler games, bubbles and hide & seek.
- Physical enrichment is met through exercise – hikes, parkour, sniff walks, running, playing, and many different types of dog sports.
- Mental enrichment is an activity whereby a dog’s mind is exercised through cognitive and sensory stimulation. Mental and sensory stimulation can be accomplished through things like trick training, puzzles, music, nose work, play, new sights and sounds, and through food.
Dogs evolved as predators, foragers and scavengers. Studies are showing us that 24/7 access to a full bowl of food day in and day out is simply not healthy. An alarming number of dogs are overweight or obese – which leads to health problems and a decreased lifespan. In addition, it is simply boring. Dogs don’t have much to do during the day – a quick potty break in the morning, a walk when you get home from work and, in between, hours of time with nothing to occupy their minds. Bored dogs, just like bored kids, will invent ways to entertain themselves. Boredom leads to behavioral problems – from barking and inappropriate chewing to separation anxiety, hyperactivity and can even escalate to reactivity.
Read more at https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/canine-diy-enrichment , https://www.funfurpets.com/toss-the-food-bowl-dog-feeding-with-stimulation/ , and linktr.ee/alongwithpiper