Have you ever wondered why your dog has more energy at the end of a walk than it did at the start?
Enrichment could be the answer.
There is a common misconception that we must take our dogs on long, fast-paced walks to tire them out. While it's agreed that physically, yes, a dog will be tired from a walk, the question is, is it a daily necessity? And what about mental exercise?
Dogs who receive too little mental exercise are far more likely to exhibit annoying or problematic behaviours. Most dogs find great satisfaction in searching and finding food. A dog that is good at this may search a huge area to find many tiny surprises. It can be challenging for our minds to believe such a different perspective. Still, the limitations of our dog's sense of smell remain only in the human brain, not the dog.
You may be surprised to learn that a 5minute+ session of goodie searching is far more stimulating than jogging or obedience training. You will quickly see how calm and content your dog becomes after this work.
Below is a list of ideas to change your dog's feeding routine. Your imagination is the limit as long as your dog is safe and enjoying the game.
- Always set your dog up for success. Start easy in a familiar environment with little to no distractions. Once your pet gets good at that level, increase the challenge slowly and repeat. Some animals will get the hang of things faster than others.
- Remember to always work with your individual animal's capabilities.
- If your dog can complete the exercise in under 5 minutes, it is too easy for them.
- You may have to show your dog how to get started.
- If you have more than one dog, feed them separately to ensure each dog gets the right amount of food. This also prevents any risk of fighting over food (resource guarding/fighting)