Welcome to Day 27 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.
Saturdays during #100daysofenrichment are all about emphasising the dog in all our dogs; all about sniffing and doing dog things.
We’ve talked lots about being a dog, and the sorts of things dogs must do to be dogs, to be healthy dogs, to be happy dogs.
Our pets live a life that is more human-centric, more and more as modern life encompasses all. You guys, on this project with us, are likely doing a wonderful job of making sure your pet has outlets for their normal, natural, necessary behaviour. All the #100daysofenrichment challenges have been designed to do just that, so, even if you only a do a few, here and there, you are adding lots of opportunities for outlets to your pets’ lives.
Today, we are going to talk about how we can design enrichment adventures for our pets. For most dogs, we can bring them out and about to ensure they experience the world, but that’s not always possible for all pets or people.
Using our experiences this far, over the last 25 days or so, we have lots of ideas that we can put in place to design a multi-sensory adventure that calls on all categories of enrichment.
Although it’s certainly easier if you can take your pet out to a new or even familiar location, I don’t want you to be limited if this isn’t the case.
We are all learning to apply the knowledge we are developing about enrichment in general, and how it effects our individual pets specifically. Let’s put that to the test today…
If you can’t get out on an adventure:
- maybe walks are not possible right now
Instead, go for a drive. Bring your pet in your vehicle to places that allow them to experience some of the sensations of the outside world.
Let them watch the world go by.
Crack a window and allow them to air sniff.
Sit with them far enough from the action that they don’t become frustrated, but close enough that it’s interesting to watch.
With the pet safely restrained, sit in an open vehicle with them.
When you get home, make up for any sensory deficits using any challenges from the 100 days, so far.
If you have an unvaccinated puppy, for example, exposing them to the outside world carefully is an important tool in shaping their behavioural development.
Bring puppy in your arms or in the car. Sit with the door or window open, puppy in your arms, and allow them to air-sniff. Sit with them on a bench or a quiet spot.
When bringing puppy out in your arms, it’s best not to allow others to pet or approach your puppy. When they are restrained, they have little choice in how they interact and that can be overwhelming, especially for young puppies. Make it about air sniffing and observing instead.
- maybe outings are not possible right now
Review our 100 days so far and pick three different challenges and present them altogether. Follow the Adventure Time rules to construct your Ultimate Puzzle, ensuring a multi-sensory experience.
Collect vegetation, grasses, sticks and branches and other natural smelly things from a local green area.
Gather small amounts of your collection in fabric shopping bags and hang at sniffing height, rather than on the ground.
This not only makes it easier to clean up but is convenient for the dog and may reduce disease spread, if that’s a concern.
Adventure Time Rules
Consider the categories of enrichment:
- physical world/habitat (environmental)
- food based
The best way to make enrichment truly enriching is to provide it in a natural way (so not too contrived and set up), so that the animal gets to experience it as part of their natural exploration of their world, and to provide enrichment that ticks as many enrichment-category-boxes as possible in one.
An adventure should provide the dog exposure to a multi-sensory, multi-category enrichment experience.
Location, location, location!
Where you go will dictate the adventure you have.
- Places that offer different substrates, such as grass, gravel, earth, foliage and so on will allow for sensory and physical challenges.
- Areas with different sort of coverage and skyline will offer very different visual and auditory qualities – a tree line changes the way sounds travel and the things that can be seen or not, flat grass land allows for visual information to travel fast.
- Different terrain, gradient and natural or man-made occurring obstacles can allow for cognitive, sensory and physical challenges.
- Of course, make sure your dog gets to sniff to their nose’s content. Sniffathon rules apply – don’t move the dog along, allow them to sniff.
When you go
- different seasons, different weather conditions and different times of the day change the olfactory picture for your dog, and therefore present very different sensory and cognitive challenges.
The cooler and drier the air, the slower odour travels, and the more concentrated it becomes. As air warms and moistens, over the day, it moves more and is released more throughout the environment.
Going for an adventure on an early, frosty morning provides a very difference experience than going on a warm afternoon, even if you go to the same place.
How you go
Getting to an adventure can dictate how much the dog enjoys and immerses in the experience.
- If it’s stressful to walk your dog to adventure-land, consider driving there.
- If the route you take is filled with sequential stressors, consider a different route.
- If your dog is worried passing through certain environments on the way, consider walking with a more confident pal, at quieter times with less traffic and fewer passersby.
When dogs are worried, fearful or experiencing distress, they don’t need any further challenge in their lives. As lovely as an adventure sounds, to us, to a less well settled dog, it may be too much challenge for them at this time. Life might be enriching enough without adding further challenge.
Worriers might prefer a smaller world and a regular, familiar and predictable route – developing their confidence and comfort with that is sufficient adventuring for them!
Who you’re with
Social, interactive enrichment is probably the most effective and important to companion animals.
Most pet owners love the idea of their dogs playing with other dogs, and it is the goal of many to provide “socialisation” outlets for their puppies, adolescents and adult dogs.
This 100 day project is not going to prioritise dog-dog social interaction. While I certainly like the idea of a dog, especially adolescent and adult dogs who like that sort of thing, having a buddy or two and meeting regularly for a fun playdate, dog-dog play interactions are not necessarily the central focus of our enrichment endeavours.
Make adventures about the time you, the human, spend with your dog. Make sure you are the most engaging social entity in their life.
What you do…
Choose places that allow the dog to wander safely and as freely as possible (always prioritise safety and security). This allows the dog to choose how they interact with their environment.
Let your dog decide on which direction to take, which path to follow.
Vary the activities you both engage in, with sniffing obviously being a big part of it (it IS Sniffing Saturday after all), and your contribution to that is to let it happen.
Think in Rollercoasters
We will talk about Rollercoaster Games later over this project, but for today, arrange activities that bring your dog up, in terms of excitement, and then bring them down, then up, then down and so on. Like a Rollercoaster.
Bring ’em up:
- preparation for going out and getting out into the world, especially initially
- perceiving stressors – things that get your dog wound up, happy or not
- physical exertion
- single-track enrichment attempts
Help ’em come back down:
- chewing, lapping – bring a stuffable
- engagement and training exercises
- stopping to watch the world go by – just be
Let your dog be a little crazy at first to get it out of their system – just let them do what they need to do.
Get physical! Engage in physically exerting exercise, with your dog, but vary the activity constantly. Try to move away from exertion and repetition, even in play. And play. A LOT together.
Go between sniffing and physical exertion, back to sniffing, practice some training cues, up the exertion, back to sniffing.
Incorporate our confidence course work with agility anywhere; running, climbing, rolling, swimming, digging, jumping, splashing, chasing on repeat.
Take a break to work on a stuffable. Take a break to be.
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!