Where is my puppy? (Or, why adolescence is so tricky)

In what seems like only minutes, your butter-wouldn’t-melt puppy turns into a lanky, boisterous teenager; Decker at about 6 weeks and about 6 months.

Puppies are adorable and goofy, bringing joy and smiles to even the grumpiest faces. And while new puppy owners often lament at the difficulties of puppy rearing, those are nothing compared to the drama that comes with canine adolescence.

Teenage dogs are the most at risk of becoming unwanted; Irish pounds and rescue organisations are filled with adolescent dogs needing homes and help. Adolescence is hard for adolescents and their owners.  

I promise you that your teenage dog is not trying to give you a hard time, they are having a hard time. 

Your dog’s brain on adolescence

Teenagers have to progress from baby helplessness toward adult independence and to do that their brains and bodies need to go through a lot of change.

They have to become more independent, be able to make decisions and think about which information to apply to different situations – adults have to do things that are basically the opposite to puppies!

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During this stage the brain is gradually becoming a better thinking, decision-making organ but while this is happening it doesn’t function very well as a thinking, decision-making organ at all.

Parts of the brain that look after learning, concentration and impulsivity are busily being built rather than helping the teenager with coping with stress and self calming.

And just like when a motorway is being remodeled there are diversions; information and messages in the teenage brain are diverted, to more reactionary areas, while the brain is getting its make over. This often results in over-the-top reactions and emotional outbursts (we’ve all been through it so this should be no surprise).

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Along with this re-modelling of the brain, the teenager’s body is bathed in a chemical soup especially if entire (not neutered). Intact male teenagers have spikes of testosterone elevated several times greater than that present in adult entire males while females also play victims to hormones preparing them for mating, motherhood and maturity.

Not to mention that adolescents are getting their adult teeth and their adult bodies – this growth and development can be  painful encouraging the teenager to seek out comfort by chewing, vocalising, being restless and attention seeking.

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To add further complexity to canine adolescence, fearful and aggressive responding are likely to spike as dogs enter adolescence, and throughout. Teenagers are not necessarily any more fearful or aggressive than other dogs, but now, with their adult bodies and less-puppyish, but still immature responses, their expression of distance increasing signalling becomes more refined, and demonstrative.

This is stress related behaviour and canine adolescents don’t have the best recovery strategies.

Throughout behavioural development, dogs go through a number of periods during which they may be more sensitive to fear and less well able to recover; these are called fear impact stages or fear periods.
During puppyhood, these periods tend to be a little more predictable, happening at about 5 weeks, 8 weeks and 12 weeks (roughly) but from about 18-20 weeks, brief fear periods seem to become less predictable but no less impactful. Another adolescent challenge.

This means that adolescent dogs need really careful exposure and lots of appropriate support, just like during puppyhood.

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Wild & crazy is NOT what they need

The temptation is to try to tire the teenager, to run them, to have them engage in high-octane activities like group dog-dog play or repetitive fetch games.

Dog parks, daycares and play groups may not be the best place for adolescent dogs to develop appropriate social skills, and may cause teenagers to associate high arousal with other dogs and the related excitement.

Regular repetitive exerting activities are also likely to lead to increasing arousal, difficulty with calming and becoming harder to live with.

Appropriate social and environmental exposure, along with suitable mental and physical exercise, are the keys to helping you and your dog through adolescence. Get help, get committed and remember that your teenage dog is not trying to give you a hard time, they are having a hard time.

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Start preparing for adolescence in puppyhood

We can begin to help our dogs deal with adolescence when they are still puppies, just by having a little awareness of what’s about to happen in the coming months.

Puppies appear more tolerant than they often are. They don’t have complete and mature behaviour patterns so they might not show discomfort in ways that are easily recognisable for pet owners.

We tend to do a lot of handling of puppies and presume, and expect, that they like it. We allow every one and every thing greet them and get close to them. We carry them about, preventing them from choosing how they would like to proceed. We do lots of stuff to puppies that we just don’t do to adult dogs, probably because adult dogs wouldn’t tolerate it so well.

While puppies, they are more flexible in how they learn about the world around them. This means that the things that happen to them are more impactful.

You can imagine the associations puppies are making during this impressionable time. As they move into and through adolescence, they become better at saying NO! or WAIT! We think they have become more difficult, but they may just have had enough, and now they can let us know more obviously.

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Growing Pains

The perfect puppyhood honeymoon is over…adolescence has hit and some typical teenage traits rear their ugly heads.

Adolescence brings an increase in activity, strength, fitness, vocalisation, ‘reactive’ behaviour, destruction, spookiness, aggressive responding, distress, humping, distraction, toileting & marking, difficulty with calming and interest in the opposite sex.

Sounds like fun, right?

Training Through The Teenage Angst

Adolescence starts slowly from about the time adult teeth come down through to adulthood; from about 5 months to about two and a half years of age we can expect adolescent changes to slowly start and slowly come to an end. The peak is usually somewhere in the middle with nine-twelve months of age often considered the prime time for teenage trouble.

Having a good start with puppy training and appropriate social and environmental exposure certainly helps, but for the most part, adolescence brings challenge.

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Surviving Canine Adolescence – general guidelines

Manage to prevent adolescent behaviours sticking: although teenage behaviours are caused by transient changes, these teenage behaviours can become permanent fixtures if practiced.

Management means we set our adolescent up for success by preventing them being put in situations where they may carry out unwanted behaviours.

Continue with appropriate social and environmental exposure: teenagers are probably more likely to appear to over-react when experiencing emotional swings, which are just more dramatic during adolescence.

Make sure teenagers get lots of space from triggers of over-reaction, get to choose how they engage in social interactions, and continue to pair good things with exposure to social and environmental stimuli.

Supervision and observation: although most associated with puppy training, supervising of the teenager is useful too to stop destruction, humping and leg lifting before it happens, by redirecting the teenager to other more appropriate outlets.

Close supervision of dog-dog interactions is especially important, particularly where a number of teenagers hang out together.

Teach them to be good human trainers: teenagers tend to have trouble with waiting their turn, calming themselves after getting wound up and engaging with their people in the midst of distractions.

Teach teenagers how to train humans to get the things they want to help them to choose their human over the goings-on.

Physical and Mental Exercise: teenagers are stronger and more active than puppies, all of a sudden. They will need increased physical and mental exercise, while carefully monitoring physical exertion.

Improve the value of rewards: puppies bask in their owner’s love but it’s not so cool to be seen with your parents when you’re a teenager.

Building motivation for interaction with you, choosing you, and for play and fun with their person certainly goes a long way to boosting engagement.

Remember, rewards are things the dog chooses – what is the dog already doing? That can often give you information about the things that your dog likes to do. Making sure they get to do these activities is important, just as participating with them, keeping it fun and helping them choose engagement.

Clarity and Consistency: more than at any life stage teenagers need to be able to predict what’s going to happen to them. This is largely about you being consistent and clear in all interactions with them.
While management to prevent unwanted behaviour is important, rewarding desirable behaviour is just as essential.

Take responsibility for your dog’s behaviour and set them up for success .

Accepting responsibility: the ‘Teenager’ label is used to get pet owners out of all sorts of trouble but the human end of the leash must take on the challenges of living with and supporting an adolescent.
Humans tend to hold the teenager more accountable for their behaviour; they are not so cute anymore and “should know better”.
The popular opinion that teenagers are stubborn and belligerent is flawed; teenagers can’t know or do better; some days their brains are not going to be working quite right and on most days, teenagers, as opposed to puppies, will not put up with mixed signals from their teachers.

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Surviving Canine Adolescence – some specifics

Just like humans, dogs can have a hard time during this teenage phase.

Your teenage dog is not trying to give you a hard time, they are having a hard time!

Early training and appropriate social interactions during the first few months of life can help the teenage phase run smoother, but continued work and careful guidance is required for teenagers, throughout adolescence.

Here’s a handy reference guide to training and support that might help you and your canine adolescent that we give to our teenager class attendees.

Boisterous behaviour: teenage dogs are often more active, more destructive and more interactive with their world. Their growing body means that they are stronger, and may be less in control of their movements.

Things that might help:

  • make sure your dog has appropriate physical AND mental exercise
  • your dog’s behavioural needs must be met – this may include needs related to breed or type of dog
  • teenage dogs need lots of down time – they know how to go crazy, they need help learning how to be calm
  • careful management and supervision around children or other vulnerable people may be needed
  • default behaviours such as polite greetings, matwork, and autofocus will help and need consistent and ongoing training

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Mouthing behaviour – just when you thought puppy nipping was long gone, then the teenager begins to mouth and bite…and it’s painful & bruising!

Things that might help:

  • carefully look at situations in which this behaviour occurs; it’s usually related to excitement
  • prevent your dog mouthing in these situations by using baby gates or your dog’s lead or give him something to hold or carry
  • your dog’s needs must be met so that he has all the things he needs and outlets for important behaviour
  • teenage dogs need lots of down time – they know how to go crazy, they need help learning how to be calm
  • careful management and supervision around children or other vulnerable people may be needed
  • default behaviours such as polite greetings and matwork will help and need consistent and ongoing training

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Destructive behaviour – as teenage dogs are more powerful, and as their teeth and jaws mature over their first year, they will often be capable of doing more damage when they chew. Adolescent dogs might seek out chewing and destruction, especially when they become excited or distressed and seek calming and comfort.

Things that might help:

  • get your teenager hooked on chewing dog-safe chews such as stuffed and frozen Kongs
  • make sure forbidden chewable items are out of your dog’s reach so chewing your valuables doesn’t become more established
  • if you can’t remove the chewable, confine the dog from the area, especially when unsupervised
  • give your dog lots of appropriate outlets for chewing and destruction
  • providing your dog with appropriate mental AND physical exercise also helps; #100daysofenrichment is pretty much essential viewing for teenagers!
  • always take care with chews and toys for your adolescent dog as they might ingest dangerously large or harmful pieces

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Excessive barking – dogs bark for different reasons and working out the cause of barking is important in helping the dog. Generally, excessive barking is most often due to there needing to be some improvement to their lifestyle and environment.

Things that might help:

  • carefully list the situations in which your dog barks – what happens just before, what happens just after
  • barking might happen because the dog is seeking attention and interaction, is spooked by a noise or something they can see outside, because they’re bored and under stimulated, and/or because they are frightened of something or someone and they want more space and distance
  • make sure your dog has appropriate physical AND mental exercise
  • your dog’s behavioural needs must be met – this may include needs related to breed or type of dog
  • teenage dogs need lots of down time – they know how to go crazy, they need help learning how to be calm
  • block visual access to triggers for barking, such as closing curtains or confining the dog from open fences
  • bring your dog away from things that he is barking at, and try to give him that space before he feels the need to bark
  • don’t shout or scold your dog for barking – instead try to distract their focus by moving away from them excitedly as if you are engaging in something fascinating
  • reward your dog when he’s quiet, rather than waiting for him to start barking and then making a big deal out of his behaviour.
    Reward the quiet teenager with attention, food rewards, treats, toys, play, and access to the things he wants.

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Separation related behaviours – it is to be expected that dogs may become a little upset when separated from their family, but some dogs may display more concerning behaviour when left alone. This is most likely to be seen at more intense levels during adolescence.

Things that might help:

  • help to prevent escalation of separation related behaviours by teaching your dog to settle and be calm when confined, adding in separation carefully and gradually
  • beginning alone training is especially important, on a preventative basis, with dogs recently brought into the home, regardless of their age
  • film your dog’s behaviour when left alone – that footage can give you information about the sort of behaviour the dog engages in when alone
  • note especially concerning behaviour such as attempts at escaping, chewing or destruction at doors or windows, pacing, distress vocalising, salivation, not eating or being able to settle, being very quiet and still when alone
  • teach your dog to settle while you are in the room with him but ignoring him; gradually add separation to that, a little at a time so that the dog doesn’t experience distress at any stage
  • make little separations of just a few seconds, a normal part of everyday life
  • as soon as you suspect that your dog may be distressed at being alone, get help as soon as possible
  • never rely on allowing your dog to ‘cry it out’ as this is likely to contribute to your dog feeling more distressed when alone

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“Reactivity” – this behaviour is usually seen on lead or behind a fence, with the dog barking and lunging toward a trigger, such as another dog, traffic or jogger. This behaviour may be seen due to frustration, at trying to get to the trigger or trying to get away from it.

Things that might help:

  • make sure your dog has appropriate physical AND mental exercise
  • your dog’s behavioural needs must be met – this may include needs related to breed or type of dog
  • teenage dogs need lots of down time – they know how to go crazy, they need help learning how to be calm
  • work on teaching nice loose leash walking and focus skills
  • teach your teenager that the approach of other dogs or triggers means that you will feed them three HIGH value food rewards, one after another, and then turn and move in the other direction
  • don’t put your dog in situations in which he is likely to demonstrate this behaviour – distance is your friend, so move away
  • walk your dog in places that allow him to sniff and roam on a loose lead, away from triggers

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“Spookiness” – teenage dogs can have greater emotional swings, and may have strong fear responses. This is sometimes unpredictable and seems inconsistent. This may be seen as avoidance behaviour, barking and even behaviour that appears aggressive.

Things that might help:

  • give your dog plenty of space from things that cause him to show ‘spooky’ behaviour – he might dart away, he might stiffen and stare, he might bark, or lunge.
  • learn to talk dog and listen to your dog
  • get your dog out of the situation as quickly as you can – adolescent dogs will quickly learn to use aggressive-looking behaviour to try to get distance from things they find scary or suspicious
  • comfort your dog when he is scared – talk softly to him, provide him with contact if that’s what he needs
  • teenage dogs may show sensitivity to sounds, such as thunder, alarms, traffic, fireworks – get help as soon as you notice this behaviour

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Resource Guarding – this is normal animal behaviour, even humans do it! Dogs may guard access to food and food related things, chews, toys, their bed, sofas, favourite sleeping positions, and even people, by stiffening, growling or even snapping and snarling.

  • provide your dog with his own space to eat, play, chew and relax
  • never just grab things from a dog or remove them from their bed or sleeping spot
  • make sure children understand never to disturb a chewing, eating or sleeping dog, and supervise all dog-child interactions directly
  • tidy away forbidden stealable items that your dog might take
  • if your dog gets something he shouldn’t, don’t make a big fuss and don’t pursue them; if the item isn’t harmful, or valuable or destructible, ignore your dog. Divert his attention by pretending to engage in something exciting in another room.
  • if you need to get the item back, create a diversion by tossing food rewards or a toy in the other direction, pretend to go to the fridge or get ready to go out for a walk
  • don’t recover the item until your dog has moved away from it
  • practice exchanges and “thank you” exercises with a range of items

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Handling discomfort – puppies are presumed to tolerate handling and manipulation, but this is not really the case. A lot of puppy biting behaviour is seen due to them being overwhelmed with handling, restraint, hugging and being picked up. It’s likely then, that teenage dogs will continue to express their discomfort, but in more serious ways.

  • pair touching, grooming and handling of body areas with high value rewards
  • learn to talk dog and listen to your dog
  • if your dog shows discomfort, immediately stop and work on handling exercises on a nearby body area until you can build his comfort in more sensitive areas
  • visit the vets and groomers for social visits – just go in, eat some treats and leave again
  • always bring high value food rewards to the vets and groomers so that your dog associates these places with yummies
  • practice handling exercises every day

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Setting ’em up for success

We often talk about it, setting the learner up for success…but what does it mean?

Traditionally, we think of ‘training’ as being about barking out “commands” and showing ’em who’s boss but now that we have a better understanding of animal behaviour and learning, that approach is redundant.

Behaviour is in the environment

That’s another one we say a lot: behaviour is in the environment, not in the dog. Behaviour doesn’t happen in isolation; your dog does behaviour in certain conditions. These are the Whens and Whys of behaviour.

When does your dog do a behaviour (any behaviour)?
Who’s present? What’s just happened? Where are you? What have you just done? Any and all of those things might cause or trigger behaviour.

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Why does your dog do a behaviour (any behaviour)?
What does your dog get after a behaviour? What does your dog get away from after a behaviour? Any and all of those things might be the reason he does it.

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Behaviour happens in certain conditions for certain outcomes. Dogs do behaviours that work!

Teaching our dogs involves us setting up the whens and whys so they are less likely to do unwanted behaviour and to make it easier for them to behaviours we like. That’s setting them up for success!

Your dog’s behaviour is information

Unwanted behaviour, for the most part, is normal dog behaviour. We’ve generally put our dog in a situation that makes inappropriate behaviour happen.
We haven’t set them up for success.

That means our dog’s behaviour, whether appropriate or not, is information about how well they are able for that situation. Training gives your dogs the coping skills (behaviours) needed to deal with the environmental situations we put them in.

Your dog’s behaviour in a situation, gives you information about how well you have prepared them, or not.

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Puppy Party

Follow the progress of Bonnie’s babies on our Facebook page. We have been working with these six puppies who were born while their mum was in the care of A Dog’s Life. Bonnie’s babies, and Bonnie their mum, have been in a wonderful foster home, learning about life in the human world and getting ready for going to their new families.

At about 6.5 weeks of age, they came for a puppy party with a community petcare course I was delivering. This was their first big outing, away from their home and away from their mum. A BIG challenge for such young puppies that meant a longer car journey, crate confinement, a new place, lots of new people and all new sensory overload.

No such thing as “bad” behaviour

Living with humans, for dogs, is tough. We have made arbitrary rules about what behaviour is acceptable or not. Dogs are born with a ton of in-built behaviours that humans, for the most part, don’t like. We humans have come up with all sorts of inventive and aversive means to suppress this unwanted dog behaviour under the guise of asserting that we are in charge and attempting to mould them to conform to our preferences.

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You would expect that bringing six young puppies to a school environment would cause all sorts of chaos and put them in situations that allow for lots of mischief that people find inappropriate, and we might not want them to practice.

This is where setting them up for success comes in…

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Knowing all this means it’s my responsibility to help them cope. At just over six weeks, we can’t really expect these puppies to have many skills, but we have been preparing them by bringing them on short car trips, spending some time in crate confinement, meeting lots of new people and spending time away from their mum.

Training and appropriate exposure helps to set the scene and set them up for success by adjusting the picture so each puppy is better able to choose appropriate behaviour.

Behaviours of concern: distress related behaviour while confined in their crate during the journey there such as vocalisation, attempts to escape, squabbling with siblings

Whens: in the car, longer duration of confinement, intermittent stopping and starting in rush-hour traffic

Whys: frustration at being confined, wanting to move about, wanting to move away from siblings, wanting comfort or contact with human, needing to toilet, hunger

Setting them up for success: 

  • puppies were brought to an area where they toilet before travelling
  • puppies were brought to an area where they play before travelling so they were just getting ready to sleep as we left
  • puppies were given their breakfast shortly before the opportunity to toilet
  • I set the crate up in the car before bringing them out – the crate was lined with puppy pads so it wasn’t too slippy and was absorbent
  • one of may favourite puppy hacks is to smear the walls of the inside of the crate with something really yummy and irresistible
  • then I turn on the heat in the car, play classical music and we all bask in the calm!

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Behaviours of concern: toileting every where, hiding or escaping, chewing stuff, getting in the way, being distressed in a new place and without mum

Whens: in a new place, without their mum, access to lots of space, after a period of confinement

Whys: exploration, having fun, reunite with mum, to toilet

Setting them up for success:

  • get set up before they come in
  • cordon off an area of the room securely and safely, away from the door, so people can come in and out easily without disturbing the puppies
  • set up a blanket and toys from home that will smell like mum and familiarity
  • have newspaper and puppy pads on the floor
  • lots of places to hide
  • plenty of novel objects too
  • high value chews and loaded snuffle mat to engage with as soon as they arrive, that will keep them busy while they take it all in and will help with calming
  • having more chews, food and toys available than there are puppies – this reduces competition

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Behaviours of concern: behaviour associated with feeling overwhelmed at the new place and new people

Whens: once they arrive and are brought in

Whys: it’s all new and lots of new experiences lumped one on top of another can be pretty stressful

Setting them up for success: 

  • getting everything ready before bringing the puppies in
  • allowing them plenty of time to settle and find their feet before all the new people arrive
  • giving them time to choose how and when they interact with the environment and the people
  • no luring or looming from the class attendees
  • allowing the puppies to choose

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By the time puppies had explored and chewed, toileted and played, they were ready for another nap so were pretty sleepy when everyone began to arrive, and soon nodded off.

Behaviours of concern: vocalising, biting, chewing, jumping up, making strange and hiding

Whens: all the people are present, new place and new people, just woken up

Whys: experiencing distress or startle, to escape social interaction, hungry and wanting food, to toilet or to sleep

Setting them up for success: 

  • allowing them to wake naturally
  • having food and space to toilet available immediately upon waking
  • more stuffed Kongs than puppies
  • having attendees sit back and allow puppies to choose to interact
  • no picking up the puppies
  • giving clear instruction
  • teaching attendees how to interact (rather than emphasising how not to) and providing them with new skills and awareness
  • allowing puppies to choose how and when they engage and interact

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The puppies had a great time with minimal stress for everyone. We had peaceful car journeys, they coped amazingly well with being in a new and weird environment, they were friendly and outgoing with everyone and then slept all the way home!

Bonnie’s babies are ten weeks next Thursday and will be getting their second vaccination. By the weekend they will be ready to go to their homes. If you would like to add a fantastic companion to your family, get in touch with A Dog’s Life.

 

How can you set your dog up for success?
What the behaviours you might be concerned about? What are the relevant whens and whys?
How can you prepare your dog with behaviours for coping and how can you adjust the picture so it’s easy for them to choose appropriate behaviour?

Easter Egg (Puzzle) Hunt

#100daysofenrichment may be officially over, but that doesn’t mean the enrichment needs to stop.

Easter Egg boxes make GREAT puzzle boxes for different Busy Boxes…you’ll have to eat all the Easter Eggs so…

Make sure to keep the chocolate away from pets and if you have had a real Easter Egg hunt, make sure that you have cleared away all the eggs before allowing your dog access.
Instead, set up an Easter Puzzle Hunt for them!

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And the great thing about this challenge, is you can play at any time of the year, anywhere!

From Day 101 on…

#100days is over…what do we do now?

Just because it’s Day 101, doesn’t mean the enrichment has to stop!

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You make #100days what it is

I never anticipated that this little project, from our little company, would reach so far and generate so much interest. But it did. And that’s down to you and your participation and support.

I can’t thank you enough for getting involved, sharing, and for providing feedback. The messages and comments of gratitude, letting me know how you and your pet have benefited has been the most amazing reinforcement. Throughout, it’s kept me going, striving to produce the best resources with the most information.

I have enjoyed every moment of the community aspect of this project; seeing how you have applied the challenges, how you have made adjustments to suit you and your companion, and most of all, watching pets engage in enrichment activities in a truly enriching manner.

That’s all you. Thank you.

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Start on Day 101

The hope of any #100day project is that participation helps to establish long lasting habits, beyond the one hundred days. You can continue to incorporate any or many of the challenges into your daily lives with your companion animals.

  • you might pick challenges or days that are particularly valuable and enjoyable to you and your pet
  • think of challenges that are about just being and living with your pet – lots of those involving just being and providing choice might be good considerations
  • go back and start at Day 1 all over again
  • each day’s challenges provide multiple options so you might go back and do an alternative challenge from each day

Whatever way you plan to do it, please do keep doing it.

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Keep going

The blogs, as is, will remain in place so you can dip in and out or even start again. New people might like to join in or lurkers might like to get stuck in and really have a go at it.

Our Facebook group will remain open and I will moderate and join in as often as possible. Please continue to share the #100daysofenrichment link (https://aniedireland.wordpress.com/100daysofenrichment/).

We can keep this project alive and kicking so that we can reach more and more pets and their people.

Please stay on board and in the loop!

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Day 100 Pockets

Welcome to Day 100 of #100daysofenrichment and thank you for joining us on this journey!

Although our challenges are directed mainly at dogs, we want all species to enjoy and benefit from #100daysofenrichment so, please join in, adjust and adapt to help your pet or companion live a more enriched life.

Don’t forget to review all the information leading up to #100daysofenrichment and more here on playing safe. Know your dog!

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Pockets

At a glance:

  • let’s have fun with puzzles again today and try out some of the challenges you didn’t get to try yesterday, or build on yesterday’s progress
  • puzzles that you can make as simple or complex as your dog desires
  • food based enrichment
  • turn your dog into a pick-pocket on the hunt for puzzling fun
  • get the family involved in this one – kids love making puzzles for pets and these challenges offer lots of opportunities for children to use their imagination to come up with the best busy boxes for their pets.
    Remember, supervise children in all enrichment activities and interactions with pets.
  • Some pockets puzzles might take some time to prepare, but you can work on more straight-forward challenges if time is tight.

What do you need?

  • anything that has pockets; might include old hoodies or jeans, or bathroom organisers, plant or shoe organisers
  • food rewards and toys
  • boxes, tubs, paper, eggboxes, balls, paper cups, cardboard tubes, bottles, and all your puzzling stuff!
  • Stuffables

Enrichment Goals:

  • to encourage a wide range of foraging and exploratory behaviours
  • to do more feeding related behaviour than eating
  • to encourage the development of strategies (behaviours) for getting the food out of  the pockets and puzzles
  • by varying the design of your pockets puzzles we will facilitate carrying out a range of different behaviours, broadening the dog’s repertoire

While this challenge is certainly food based, they are also experiencing cognitive, sensory and environmental enrichment, with lots of crossover between categories.

Working out how to get to the food and developing dexterous skills in manipulating the puzzles are examples of cognitive challenge.

Sniffing out, tasting and chewing food all offer sensory pay off, but so does finding their way through each food puzzle, determining its value,  and engaging in the puzzle of getting to the good stuff.

Pockets puzzles encourage pets to interact with their environment – just the very interaction with the puzzle is encouraging the pet to manipulate their surroundings, to get the things they like.

By offering a variety of pockets puzzles, we want to help the dog expand their range of puzzle-busting behaviours and facilitate your pet applying strategies from other puzzles to new ones; that’s a true cognitive gift and is growing your dog’s brain!

What goals can you add to this list for your pets?

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How can we achieve these goals?

  • give your pet plenty of space for working on puzzles and bear in mind there will be mess, so think about spaces that are easier for clean up
  • hang up  pockets puzzles on the back of a chair (for clothing) or secure a pockets puzzle under a closed door so that is kept in the same spot
  • the more difficult you have made the challenge, the higher the value the reward must be so use HIGH value foods to motivate exploration and experimentation and make it VERY easy to get the food (no frustration!)
  • if your dog just dives in, in full on destruction mode that might also be an indicator that they need an easier challenge so they get to experiment with a broader range of behaviours

What adjustments will you make for your pets?

Applications of Pockets Puzzles:

Lots of dogs enjoy snuffling and rooting, and pockets puzzles give them an outlet for this behaviour and can be a fun and simply way of slowing eating behaviour, while encouraging a broader repertoire of behaviour.

Puzzles pockets are pretty adaptable so difficulty can be increased and decreased to suit the individual dog’s abilities and comfort level.

Care does need to be taken with the level of challenge presented. Remember, enrichment must be enriching, so it’s much more beneficial to keep the challenge doable and allow the dog to develop the skills.

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Because of the home made nature and variable materials used in these puzzles, it’s best to supervise your pet carefully when they have access.
Know your dog! If you have an ingester, some of these puzzles may not work for your dog.

If you are concerned about your dog ingesting non-food items during puzzling, have a pocketful of HIGH value treats in your pocket and be ready to toss a couple toward your dog, across their eyeline, if you think they are thinking about eating the paper.
Making sure the challenge is very doable and they can get to the hidden food rewards quickly is key to modifying their behaviour and expectations during puzzling.

Check all your equipment for this challenge carefully and make sure to remove tape, staples, other fastners, small pieces and plastic pieces. Play safe!

Enrichment Options

Today’s challenges:

Beginners: 

  • add food rewards to each puzzle
  • hang clothes pockets puzzles from the back of a chair, or similar
  • use shoe organisers, or similar, flat on the floor
  • use pockets that aren’t too deep
  • fill the pocket with lots of food so it’s easy to get

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Intermediate:

  • introduce simple puzzles to some of the pockets, for example paper parcels
  • hang clothes pockets puzzles from the back of a chair, or similar
  • use shoe organisers, or similar, flat on the floor
  • use pockets that aren’t too deep

Advanced:

  • add a mix of puzzles to different pockets to really challenge your dog with the Ultimate Puzzle!

Get your puzzles ideas from the #100days masterlist and some of these ideas here:

Pockets Puzzles:

A hoodie, jacket or even an old pair of jeans make for a great pockets puzzle. Hang it on the back of a chair or bundle it up on the floor and let the puzzling begin!

Clip

Puzzlemania!

The Ultimate Puzzle is a shoe organiser or other pockets puzzle with a different puzzle in each pocket!

Clip

Clip

Clip

Suspend it!

Clip

Your challenge

Now it’s your turn. Show us what you and your pets, of any species, can do with these challenges!

Post to your social media accounts, using the #100daysofenrichment so that we can find you and join our Facebook group to share your experiences, ideas and fun!
You can comment right here too 🙂

We look forward to hearing from you and your pets – have fun & brain games!

 

Day 99 Pockets

Welcome to Day 99 of #100daysofenrichment and thank you for joining us on this journey!

Although our challenges are directed mainly at dogs, we want all species to enjoy and benefit from #100daysofenrichment so, please join in, adjust and adapt to help your pet or companion live a more enriched life.

Don’t forget to review all the information leading up to #100daysofenrichment and more here on playing safe. Know your dog!

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Pockets

At a glance:

  • puzzles that you can make as simple or complex as your dog desires
  • food based enrichment
  • turn your dog into a pick-pocket on the hunt for puzzling fun
  • get the family involved in this one – kids love making puzzles for pets and these challenges offer lots of opportunities for children to use their imagination to come up with the best busy boxes for their pets.
    Remember, supervise children in all enrichment activities and interactions with pets.
  • Some pockets puzzles might take some time to prepare, but you can work on more straight-forward challenges if time is tight.

What do you need?

  • anything that has pockets; might include old hoodies or jeans, or bathroom organisers, plant or shoe organisers
  • food rewards and toys
  • boxes, tubs, paper, eggboxes, balls, paper cups, cardboard tubes, bottles, and all your puzzling stuff!
  • Stuffables

Enrichment Goals:

  • to encourage a wide range of foraging and exploratory behaviours
  • to do more feeding related behaviour than eating
  • to encourage the development of strategies (behaviours) for getting the food out of  the pockets and puzzles
  • by varying the design of your pockets puzzles we will facilitate carrying out a range of different behaviours, broadening the dog’s repertoire

While this challenge is certainly food based, they are also experiencing cognitive, sensory and environmental enrichment, with lots of crossover between categories.

Working out how to get to the food and developing dexterous skills in manipulating the puzzles are examples of cognitive challenge.

Sniffing out, tasting and chewing food all offer sensory pay off, but so does finding their way through each food puzzle, determining its value,  and engaging in the puzzle of getting to the good stuff.

Pockets puzzles encourage pets to interact with their environment – just the very interaction with the puzzle is encouraging the pet to manipulate their surroundings, to get the things they like.

By offering a variety of pockets puzzles, we want to help the dog expand their range of puzzle-busting behaviours and facilitate your pet applying strategies from other puzzles to new ones; that’s a true cognitive gift and is growing your dog’s brain!

What goals can you add to this list for your pets?

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How can we achieve these goals?

  • give your pet plenty of space for working on puzzles and bear in mind there will be mess, so think about spaces that are easier for clean up
  • hang up  pockets puzzles on the back of a chair (for clothing) or secure a pockets puzzle under a closed door so that is kept in the same spot
  • the more difficult you have made the challenge, the higher the value the reward must be so use HIGH value foods to motivate exploration and experimentation and make it VERY easy to get the food (no frustration!)
  • if your dog just dives in, in full on destruction mode that might also be an indicator that they need an easier challenge so they get to experiment with a broader range of behaviours

What adjustments will you make for your pets?

Applications of Pockets Puzzles:

Lots of dogs enjoy snuffling and rooting, and pockets puzzles give them an outlet for this behaviour and can be a fun and simply way of slowing eating behaviour, while encouraging a broader repertoire of behaviour.

Puzzles pockets are pretty adaptable so difficulty can be increased and decreased to suit the individual dog’s abilities and comfort level.

Care does need to be taken with the level of challenge presented. Remember, enrichment must be enriching, so it’s much more beneficial to keep the challenge doable and allow the dog to develop the skills.

Clip

Because of the home made nature and variable materials used in these puzzles, it’s best to supervise your pet carefully when they have access.
Know your dog! If you have an ingester, some of these puzzles may not work for your dog.

If you are concerned about your dog ingesting non-food items during puzzling, have a pocketful of HIGH value treats in your pocket and be ready to toss a couple toward your dog, across their eyeline, if you think they are thinking about eating the paper.
Making sure the challenge is very doable and they can get to the hidden food rewards quickly is key to modifying their behaviour and expectations during puzzling.

Check all your equipment for this challenge carefully and make sure to remove tape, staples, other fasteners, small pieces and plastic pieces. Play safe!

Enrichment Options

Today’s challenges:

Beginners: 

  • add food rewards to each puzzle
  • hang clothes pockets puzzles from the back of a chair, or similar
  • use shoe organisers, or similar, flat on the floor
  • use pockets that aren’t too deep
  • fill the pocket with lots of food so it’s easy to get

20190414_212019575_iOS

Intermediate:

  • introduce simple puzzles to some of the pockets, for example paper parcels
  • hang clothes pockets puzzles from the back of a chair, or similar
  • use shoe organisers, or similar, flat on the floor
  • use pockets that aren’t too deep

Advanced:

  • add a mix of puzzles to different pockets to really challenge your dog with the Ultimate Puzzle!

Get your puzzles ideas from the #100days masterlist and some of these ideas here:

Pockets Puzzles:

A hoodie, jacket or even an old pair of jeans make for a great pockets puzzle. Hang it on the back of a chair or bundle it up on the floor and let the puzzling begin!

Clip

Puzzlemania!

The Ultimate Puzzle is a shoe organiser or other pockets puzzle with a different puzzle in each pocket!

Clip

Clip

Clip

Suspend it!

Clip

Your challenge

Now it’s your turn. Show us what you and your pets, of any species, can do with these challenges!

Post to your social media accounts, using the #100daysofenrichment so that we can find you and join our Facebook group to share your experiences, ideas and fun!
You can comment right here too 🙂

We look forward to hearing from you and your pets – have fun & brain games!

 

Day 98 Sunday Fun day!

Welcome to Day 98 of #100daysofenrichment and thank you for joining us on this journey!

Although our challenges are directed mainly at dogs, we want all species to enjoy and benefit from #100daysofenrichment so, please join in, adjust and adapt to help your pet or companion live a more enriched life.

Don’t forget to review all the information leading up to #100daysofenrichment and more here on playing safe. Know your dog!

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Every Sunday during #100daysofenrichment is Sunday Funday! This means you and your pet repeat your favourite challenge or challenges from the week.

You can do it exactly as you did first time round, you can try a different option, build on your progress already established, reinvent and rejig it…what ever you want to do with the last week of challenges!

Day 92 Winebox Puzzles Pt. 1

Day 93 Watersports

Day 94 Winebox Puzzles Pt.2

Day 95 Grasses

Day 96 Freestyle Friday

Day 97 Sniffing Saturday – SNIFFARI (again)

Your challenge

Now it’s your turn. Show us what you and your pets, of any species, can do with these challenges!

Post to your social media accounts, using the #100daysofenrichment so that we can find you and join our Facebook group to share your experiences, ideas and fun!
You can comment right here too 🙂

We look forward to hearing from you and your pets – have fun & brain games!

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Developing the next generation of animal care, training and beahviour specialists in Ireland.