Enriching the New Year!
Ideas for busting boredom & slowing down fast eaters
Are you ready to add some fun to your dog’s daily routine? It’s incredibly easy and quite enjoyable to watch! Ditching the bowl for mealtimes and using enrichment feeders (aka. Brain toys, brain games, dog puzzles, interactive or puzzle feeders, etc.) provides exercise for your pup’s mind and body.
Appropriate meal time enrichment challenges can slow down fast eaters, mentally drain overactive pups, encourage lazy eaters, boost confidence, develop problem solving skills, and produce an overall more restful pup. Whether your dog is energetic or mild-mannered, they can benefit from mental and physical challenges.
There are many canine enrichment toys and gadgets that you can buy at the pet store or online. I’ll share more about some of Smartypaws favorites in next month’s blog. Yet, with just a little creativity, you can use everyday items to help your furry friend expend energy on productive tasks. It’s important to start with easy “puzzles” so your dog doesn’t get frustrated. As they get the hang of it, then you can increase the difficulty of the dispensers. Remember to supervise! These are not chew toys. All dogs have a different style for working “puzzles”. If they start to consume objects besides the food, then please remove them for safety.
5 DIY Enrichment Feeders for Fido:
5. Muffin tin and tennis balls: Use a metal muffin tin and flip it upside-down. Spread your dog’s kibble or raw food throughout. Make it trickier by placing tennis balls on top or freezing the raw food on the tin. You can also just use it right side up as well.
4. Water bottle: Fill a clean, dry water bottle with your dog’s kibble. Have a seat and watch the show as your pup entertains you pawing, tossing, nibbling and throwing it to get the food out.
3. Old towel: Lay a towel out flat. Poor some kibble down the middle longwise. Fold the towel in half at the kibble line. Spread more kibble all around. Roll the towel from one end so all the food is hidden in the towel roll. You may need to leave a few pieces of food sticking out to encourage your dog to explore. Make it harder by rolling the towel more tightly or add a few smaller kibble towel rolls inside.
2. Shallow box and toilet paper rolls: Spread some kibble in the bottom of a shallow box, and fill the box with toilet paper rolls. Let your pup sniff, snuffle, dig, etc. to get their food. Make it trickier by using a deeper box or putting food in the cardboard rolls and squeezing or folding the ends shut. This could get messy! My girl loves to shred the rolls to get the goodies inside.
1. YOU!: Ditch the bowl and bond with your pup! Use their food to train and play! Put your pup behind a gate or use their stellar “wait”. Hide a few kibble pieces or some raw food (put on a plate if too messy), then release them to find it and repeat. Practice recall by tossing some kibble away from you for your pup to consume. Then, call them to come and eat from your hand. Add a “sit” or “down”. Hand feeding is a great way to reinforce some good doggy manners.
Be sure to like and follow Smartypaws LLC on Facebook. Check our weekly videos in January 2018 for “Fun Feeder Fridays” and see these enrichment toys in action!