Please play with your food!
Ever wonder why you pet may be giving you puppy eyes or seems bored to be sleeping on the couch again? It may be just that, their bored and want something to do.
While filling up a bowl is easy, making you pup work for their food may be more rewarding, for both you and them. Food is a valuable resource for dogs and can help pets in all sorts of ways including socialization, stress reduction, entertainment, tasks completion and reward.
We can provide our pets with a more enjoyable day by adding a few simple tasks, chores, or even toys to the mix of a routine day. All of these items are used to enrich a pets life, and enrichment is a fundamental part of keeping pets happy in their new and learned environments.
Enrichment tends to have around 5 categories: Social, Cognitive, Physical Habitat, Sensory and Food (Rose Riley 2019). Several of these categories, including cognitive, sensory, and food can be utilized via interactive feeders and toys.
How these toys can help:
- Interact with the toy in a positive way for appropriate association
- Positively reinforcement desired behaviors, i.e. toy = prize not chewing = prize
- Use sensory systems, i.e. paws, mouths, brain, surroundings, to learn how to earn
- Increase engagement by changing the texture of the reward, like freezing, to last longer
- Allows for focus while training
- Distraction during teething
- Calming and easier relaxation when dealing with stressful events
We recommend always having TWO enrichment feeders that can be filled and frozen, that way you are always ready in case a situation arises. Using slow feeders are also great ways to work for their food.
Varying the type of enrichment toy is also good practice. Be sure to pick up and vary the location of the items as we want them to be seen as something positive and not just another piece of puppy “furniture.”
Some of our favorites include:
- Classic Kong
- Planet Dog Orbee Lil’ Snoop
- StarMark Treat Dispensing Ball
- Kong Wobbler
Now let them play with and enjoy their food!