Introducing the Second Category of Enrichment: Feeding
Good day pet parents! As we continue our conversation about the six levels of dog enrichment, today we’ll be tackling how you can see success during the #PAW5EnrichedLifeChallenge by using feeding time as a way to work enrichment into your pup’s every day life!
Dogs love to eat and, in their opinion, the quicker the better! But meal time is also one of the easiest times of the day to fit in activities that can keep them happy, fulfilled, and healthy (mentally and physically).
Veterinarians and animal experts have long recognized that enrichment during meal time has a number of benefits for the pet, especially when it comes to their behavior. Long before now zoos and shelters have used this type of enrichment to keep the animals from becoming bored (and potentially destructive).
Before we dive into how you can do this, it must be said that providing your pet with a complete and balanced diet is essential to their health and happiness; if you’re unsure what that means for your pup, check with your vet first before jumping into the next step!
Now, for starters, let’s take the food out of the bowl!
Animals in the wild spend a majority of their day searching for, acquiring and eating their food. Now consider our pets at home, how much time does yours spend doing these things? Our guess is not much – barely any time, surely. Feeding them from their usual bowl encourages them to focus solely on the food and nothing else. This can result in over eating, which can then lead to other behavioral issues.
A main goal of enrichment feeding is to increase the time it takes for your pup to eat his food, while encouraging mental stimulation and in many cases, physical activity. Companies now offer activity toys and food puzzles designed specifically to encourage the primal instincts our dogs have — foraging, hunting, and ultimately working for the food they’re receiving.
The great part about feeding enrichment is you can accomplish it without purchasing anything. You can simply walk outside with your dog’s kibble and toss it into the grass – now they’re enjoying the hunt for their food! You can also take that kibble and put it into a closed box (maybe an old cereal box) – now you have a food puzzle for them to solve! Another good option is taking a muffin tin, turning it upside down and spreading the kibble between the bumps — now your pup will have to nudge the tin around from all different angles to get the food out.
There are a number of other simple DIY food puzzles you can create at home, but whatever you choose, but sure it is a fun challenge for your pup. You are only limited by your imagination, so from now on – no more routine!