- an act of enriching
- the state of being enriched
- something that enriches:
Now lets add a Canine to that and make it Canine Enrichment:
One standard definition of enrichment is: “Additions to an animal’s environment with which the animal voluntarily interacts and, as a result, experiences improved physical and/or psychological health.”
Types of enrichment: (Behavioral-Environmental) Any stimulus which evokes an animal’s interest in a positive way can be considered enriching, including natural and artificial objects, scents, novel foods, and different methods of preparing foods (for example, frozen in ice). Most enrichment stimuli can be divided into seven groups:
- Environmental; enhancing the animals’ captive habitat with opportunities that change or add complexity to the environment.
- Feeding; by presenting food to an animal in different ways, such as hidden, scattered throughout their habitat, buried, or presented differently, natural hunting and scavenging behaviors are encouraged by requiring the animals to investigate, manipulate, and work for their food as they would in non-captive environments. Feeding enrichment is the most common technique used.
- Manipulation; providing items that can be manipulated by the paws, feet, tail, horns, head, mouth, etc. This promotes investigatory behavior and exploratory play that is often closely related to behaviors that can be seen by the species in a natural, wild habitat. It is not uncommon to see manipulation and feeding techniques combined. Many objects offered to an animal in their habitat can contain treats that require the animal to open, break apart, and/or find the treats through obstacles within the enrichment object.
- Puzzles; requiring an animal to solve simple problems to access food or other rewards. These puzzles can include puzzle feeders that contain the animal’s meal or manipulation objects that are presented.
- Sensory; stimulating animals’ senses: visual, olfactory, auditory, tactile, and taste. Olfactory senses can be activated by presenting scents that the animal would encounter while hunting and mating in the wild. Caretakers include prey, predator, and pheromone scents within the enclosure. Auditory senses can be activated by playing recordings of the animal’s natural habitat, animal, and vocalizations that can be heard by the species in the wild.
- Social; providing the opportunity to interact with other animals, either conspecifics or interspecifics.
- Training; training animals with positive reinforcement or habituation. This technique not only helps the animal to become mentally stimulated, but also helps to create and form a bond between the animal and his/her caretaker; allowing the caretaker to get a closer look at the animal on a daily basis and allowing for easier daily and veterinary care. ~Wikipedia
Since we are learning that dogs need mental and physical activities to keep them from unwanted behaviors. We are finding more and more ways to enrich their lives so they can become better pets. When becoming better pets the dogs are happy as they are getting much needed mental stimulation and you are happy because your pet isn’t destroying things as it has a job to do when you give it one in enrichment toys. There are many different enrichment toys out there, store bought ones as in puzzles, kong toys, tug-o-jugs and home made ones as in a water bottle with holes and treats in it for the dog to figure out how to get the treats out or like below a snuffle ball. Last October I wrote about a snuffle mat and how that enriches the canines, if you missed it you can read it here. My gang loved their snuffle mat so I decided to do a similar thing using a ball.
I used left over fleece strips from the snuffle mat to fill the ball with holes in it. You stuff the fleece in the ball and then hide your dogs dry kibble in the fleece.
They will smell the kibbles and have to figure out how to get the tasty morsels out. Guilty was a pro at it.
If your pooch is a destroyer and eater of things this enrichment toy might not be the one for you. Guilty was able to pull out the strips of fleece to get at the kibbles, she doesn’t eat fabric so I can use this toy with her but if your dog likes to eat fabric you shouldn’t use to be on the safe side. The ball that I used is the Hol-ee Roller ball from Chewy.com. The ball comes in various sizes so if you have a small dog you can get a small ball. Now that I have a litter of puppies I am excited to try out these enrichment toys.
Speaking of the puppies I made each one of them their very own snuffle mat to take home with them when they go to their new homes. Right now it is a snuggle mat as I put the mats in the whelping box and let the puppies crawl and snuggle in them to leave their scent and moms scent behind so when they are alone in their new home they have something familiar.