Day 31: Foraging Boxes

Welcome to Day 31 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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Foraging Boxes

At a glance:

  • shallow, open boxes with fun and puzzles inside encouraging snuffling and foraging
  • food based enrichment
  • add food to loose items for your dog to snuffle out
  • 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 Foraging Boxes for their pets.
    Remember, supervise children in all enrichment activities and interactions with pets.
  • Foraging box prep will probably take you about five minutes – having a collection of Foraging Box stuff is a good idea…it will resemble a pile of rubbish or recycling!

 

What do you need?

  • shallower, open boxes or tubs
  • loose materials and items such as paper e.g. packing paper, kitchen roll, newspaper etc., eggboxes, balls, paper cups, Stuffables, and so on

 

  • a ranges of food rewards

Link

Using a higher sided box presents different challenges and less mess (if you hang onto the box with your feet!).

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 boxes
  • increase snuffling and sniffing!
  • improve confidence – learning to stick your head into a box of balls is tricky and take some guts!

Link

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 snuffling skills in sniffing out and reaching the food 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.

Foraging boxes encourage pets to interact with their environment – just the very interaction with the box, sticking their head in, is encouraging the pet to manipulate their surroundings, to get the things they like.

By offering a variety of Foraging Box puzzles, at different difficulty levels, 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?

Dogs can get all sorts of enrichment fun out of a Foraging Box! (Link)

How can we achieve these goals?

  • give your pet plenty of space for working on Foraging Boxes and bear in mind there will be mess, so think about spaces that are easier for clean up
  • 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?

Foraging Boxes can be a great way to recycle packing material! Link

Applications of Foraging Boxes:

Foraging Boxes are my go-to – easy to set up, easy to adjust for individuals, and totally involving for dogs…all that sniffing completely sucks them in and they engage fully with the task.

They are such a great way to help encourage dogs to interact with new and weird items, providing opportunities to boost confidence and allow the dog learn that they are safe to snuffle, and it gets them yummies!

It’s important, therefore, that we adjust the Foraging Box difficulty so that the dog can engage, snuffle and win!

Link

Because of the home made nature and variable materials used in Foraging Boxes, it’s best to supervise your pet carefully when they have access to this puzzle.
Know your dog! If you have an ingester, Forgaing Boxes may not work and you might need to supervise them closely.

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 something they shouldn’t.
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. For loose items, only use things with rounded corners.  Play safe!

Enrichment Options

Variety is the spice of enrichment, so try different loose items in each Foraging Box, or mix ’em up for a Mixed Media Foraging Box!

Beginners:

  • start with just a few items to a box or tub
  • make sure you can see the base of the box or tub and most of the food rewards
  • or use fewer, larger loose items

Link

Link

Very quickly your dog will show great improvements in confidence and enthusiasm, so build to the next level…

Intermediate:

  • add some more items, a couple at a time
  • cover the base of the box or tub

Link

Using a larger tub, box or child’s paddling pool makes it a little easier too.

Advanced:

  • fill that box or tub!

Link

Link

Children’s bath toys (no edges) make great puzzling items for Foraging Boxes:

Link

Add more puzzles:

Link

Link

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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