Why You Should Consider Enrichment Feeding
The reason why is in the name. Including a portion of mental stimulation into your dog’s life is beneficial for 2 main reasons:
To give them an outlet for their natural behaviours
To create problem solving machines
When our dogs use their brains and problem solving skills, it’s helps create dogs that are more thoughtful in their choices and less likely to react to things out of impulse. You may feel like it’s not practical to feed using enrichment toys, for multiple reasons; time constraints, lack of funds, multiple dogs etc.
Personally I don’t enrichment feed every single meal, but with multiple dogs and especially during a huge bout of rain, I really ramp it up to keep me dogs sane.
There are some super cheap, super easy ways to provide an experience at meal time. Just like there are ways to avoid having issue with multiple dogs.
Do you live in a multi – dog house hold?
I noticed a HUGE time increase when I started feeding dogs in crates. All my dogs slowed down with their food. I also like the idea that if a dog has problem solving to do with a toy, I’d rather them do that in their time, as opposed to feeling rushed. I always feed separately now. And as a trainer, I recommend this.
Is your not interested?
The biggest complaint I hear with enrichment feeding is that a dog doesn’t care about the toy and tried for a few moments then left it. 9 times out of 10 the dog doesn’t understand how to have success and has tried them given up.
Not all dogs have the confidence and problem solving skills to understand how to succeed at a toy. Which means we have to help them. I also reduce the complexity of new toys but holding them, showing the dog how to win, encouraging them to participate and ensuring they NEVER give up.
This, from a training perspective increases confidence and problem solving skills.
Oh I get it! Times are incredibly tight. What you can do is use things you were going to chuck out anyway.Using cardboard boxes that you were going to throw out anyway is a great way to do enrichment with raw food. Muffin trays or tins are great as well as those $2 pot mats from Kmart that can be used as a lick mat too. I even feed my dogs and cat using my huge collection of moulds for veggie prep. You just have to make sure your dog doesn’t run off and chew. Stuff things you would feed anyway like cow hooves, chick carcass, salmon heads etc. get creative.
Shop online and save!
For me the cheapest source of enrichment toys are Pet Circle and Budget Pets and I am always open to hearing more online places. Personally, I love the Kong range. Especially the Quest range. Kmart also has cheap puzzles for $9.00 too.
The goal is to be creative.