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!

IMG_4712

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!

IMG_0858

Day 97 Sniffing Saturday

Welcome to Day 97 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!

sniff

SNIFFARI!

Saturdays during #100daysofenrichment are all about emphasising the dog in all our dogs; all about sniffing and doing dog things.

Let’s have another Sniffari, to bring #100daysofenrichment to a close. I love collecting items of interest to bring home to Decker – I store them in the bathroom or shed to which the dog doesn’t have much access. Sniffari’s might happen on the road too, by bringing your dog to places of interest, that offer lots and lots of sniffing opportunities.

The tideline, where items from possibly all over world have washed up, makes for great sniffari-ing:

Clip

A fallen tree, once the area is safe, adds total novelty and the opportunity to investigate something he wouldn’t otherwise get to:

Clip

Last summer, in one of the workshops run for AniEd trainers, we discussed Scent & Sniffing. For this first time, I tried out something that I had been putting together in my head for quite a while…a sniffari!

I would love to say that I originated the term, but I think the credit goes to dog trainer Kristi Benson. And I would also love to claim that I came up with this idea, but I saw some similar version of this on an Australian company’s page: Dog Solutions. 
Here’s their fantastic Mobile Snuffle Park:

Mobile Snuffle Park

AniEd’s version of this is possibly a little different and I am hoping to develop it more and more.

What is a SNIFFARI?

Sniffari is an olfactory adventure for your dog. It can be as elaborate or as basic, as large or small, and as complex or simple as you like. You are limited only by your imagination, and how far you want to take this.

We went all-out-elaborate for our workshop. Attendees from around the country brought lots of bits and pieces to build the Sniffari. AniEd is already filled with “rubbish” that we use for puzzling and enrichment, so we contributed lots too.

Here’s a quick tour of the more elaborate set-up:

Link

Here’s a less elaborate set up from a PlayDates session:

Clip

Our Sniffari is not just an olfactory journey, but a multi-sensory one. The dogs are drawn in and around many substrates, obstacles, sights AND smells. Many layers of cognition are engaged, meaning that so much brain power is involved.

A full enriching experience!

Setting up your SNIFFARI!

You can see the sorts of bits and pieces we have used, everything from fur to furniture!

You can set up your sniffari indoors or outdoors.
Outdoor sniffaris provide more space and extra challenge in the way air and the breeze moves through the obstacles.

When holding sniffaris outside, I tend not to include as much local vegetation etc. as it’s presumed the dog has olfactory information about this already. But when held indoors, I have tried to add vegetation of different types and from different locations as much as possible.

IMG_E5093

Adding plants, like this lavender, to snufflemats in a box, to contain the odour, proved a big hit on our Sniffaris.

It features a lot in this Sniffari with Ned and Dexter showing great interest in it:

Clip

In our Sniffaris we have used tents, chairs and tables to add different dimensions. We used a wooden frame, pool noodles, streamers, mats of different substrates, tubs of water, platforms and hula-hoops to add in physical and tactile challenge. We used seaweed, plants, old shoes, fur, feathers, toys, boxes, old food and cosmetic containers, vegetation, twigs and branches, sweeping brush, different containers, and lots of bits and pieces to add real olfactory interest.

We have also presented the interesting odours in different ways; up high, down low, under or behind other obstacles, hanging up, poking out, in tubs and boxes to contain and concentrate odour and most importantly, laid out with plenty of space in between each obstacle.

This space allows the dog to choose how they move in and around the course, and also to allow for lots of airflow to move.

Make sure the item/s aren’t dangerous and are safe to be sniffed, that they don’t contain or have never contained substances toxic to dogs, and make sure they’re appropriate for your dog. For example, it’s not a good idea to bring back vegetation that strange dogs may have peed on to unvaccinated puppies.

Link

Really, there should be no food used in this Sniffari. It changes the dog’s approach to this challenge. By using novel and interesting things and presenting them in new ways, most dogs will be encourage to explore if given time. As usual on Sniffing Saturdays, us humans are just hanging out letting our dogs do what they do best.

Group sniffaris aren’t always going to work. After this cooperative group had each had an individual chance to explore, under very close supervision they got to sniffari as a group:

Clip

You can see more about our workshop sniffari and how the dogs benefited here, and also see how different dogs got on with AniEd sniffaris: Posie on Sniffari, Busy on Sniffari, Arlo & Brady on Sniffari.

Take your pet on Sniffari!

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 96 Freestyle Friday

Welcome to Day 96 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!

Freestyle Friday

Now it’s your turn to get creative! Every Friday is Freestyle Friday. We’ll give you the ingredients for a puzzle or enrichment device and you build it.

Rules:

  • you must use all the ingredients
  • you can add anything else you like, or nothing at all
  • whatever you come up with must be enriching

Day 96 Ingredients

You must use the following:

  • your dog’s absolute favourite toy or item – see if you can come up with a new or different game or interaction today

You can add food or toys or anything else appropriate, if you like. Or you can use this as it is.

We can’t wait to see what fun and brain games you and your pet get up to with this one!

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!

IMG_5862

 

Day 95 Grasses

Welcome to Day 95 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!

 

IMG_2173

Grasses

At a glance:

  • eating grass is natural, normal and necessary dog behaviour
  • grasses provide enrichment in other ways too
  • sensory based enrichment
  • providing access to safe grasses and other plants may benefit dogs in a number of ways
  • get the family involved in this one – for the most part, the dog will be doing all the work but children might like to be involved in some of today’s challenges

What do you need?

  • grass – an area that allows your dog to interact with grasses as they choose
  • you might like to engage in some creative gardening too!
  • cat grass which can be purchased from pet shops and online pet retailers – product review below

Enrichment Goals:

  • to facilitate normal dog behaviour and grass eating
  • to monitor grass or plant eating to ensure it’s safe and appropriate
  • to provide outlets for normal, natural, necessary dog behaviour
  • to encourage interaction with their environment and help in the development of behaviours/strategies dealing with their environment
  • to encourage dogs to choose and introduce choice into their day to day life

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

Dogs will often ingest plant material, outside of their every day diet, as part of normal canid behaviour.

For the most part this behaviour is not of concern, but some awareness of the types of plant material ingested is important to maintain safety!

Clip

Grass can provide enrichment benefits beyond ingestion too!

Grasses provide lots of cognitive outlets, with changes in terrain and changes in how scents and sounds are perceived. Running through long grass is enjoyed by many dogs, bouncing up and over to see and explore.
Rolling in grass is enjoyed by many dogs, providing lots of sensory feedback.

Grasses, such as bamboo, can help with soundscaping – changing how sounds travel to the benefit of both canines and humans.

IMG_9559

How can we achieve these goals?

  • bring your dogs to grassy areas regularly
  • rather than manicured lawns or shorter grass, choose places that provide a more natural landscape with a variety of grasses, grass lengths/densities, and terrains
  • allow your dog to choose how they interact with grasses
  • think about introducing grasses to your home or garden if this is something that your dog doesn’t get to interact with
  • many dogs live in apartments or similar so don’t have access to much outdoor space, or may only have access to a paved or concrete yard or fake grass lawns – providing these dogs with freer access to grass may be beneficial
  • learn about which plants are safe for pets so that you can provide your dog with guidance

What adjustments will you make for your pets?

Applications of grasses:

Grass eating in dogs has not been studied much at all, despite questions about this behaviour are very common from pet owners. Given this is pondered so often, we can assume that grass eating is common behaviour among dogs.

Sueda et al, 2008, surveyed pet owners about their dog’s grass eating behaviour. Although a small sample was surveyed, almost all pet owners reported that their dogs would engage in eating grass and plant material regularly.
Here is a nice summary of this research.

This also helps to explain coprophagia (poop-eating) of faeces from grass eating animals such as rabbits, sheep and horses…yum! These animals have already done all the hard digestion work on the grass so your dog takes a short cut!

IMG_8602

So, if grass eating is normal and not necessarily associated with health issues, should we ever be concerned about this behaviour?

There are some situations in which I might worry a little about grass eating behaviour. Generally, if normal dog behaviour is expressed at abnormal intensity, frequency, duration or outside of normal contexts, that might be cause for concern.

Dogs who intensely seek out and eat grass, and possibly grass clippings, eat a lot of it and are difficult to move on from eating it, may be doing so because they are experiencing some sort of gastrointestinal upset.
If a dog regularly poops or vomits lots of grass, that might also indicate some sort of gastrointestinal upset.
No matter, discuss concerns with your vet to prevent these signs worsening and to rule out underlying conditions.

IMG_9530

Enrichment Options

Option 1 Grazing

Decker is a grazer. He will eat a bit of grass here and there on every outing, pretty much and eats grasses daily.

Clip

Bringing your dogs to places that allow for this behaviour will give them the opportunity to choose to graze, or not, and to choose how they interact with the world that grasses and other plantlife can create.

Clip

Option 2 Homegrown Grasses

You can buy kits to grow grasses for your pets and they are particularly marketed toward pet cats, rabbits and other cage pets. Presumably, this is to compensate should these animals not have access to outdoors.

Dogs may also be in a similar position and may not have choice-based access to grass so this might provide an appropriate alternative.

I recently bought three different grass-growing products from online pet retailer, Zooplus: Cat Grass, HydroGrass and Nibble Grass

I will confess that I am not at all green-fingered but each product did grow grass, some better than others. These are the results after a week and a half in a sunny spot with irregular watering (again, I am not a gardener!). The HydroGrass worked best and quickest.

Each product seems to be a similar species or mix of grass; the manufacturers claim a cereal grain, a barley grass and a mix of barley, oat and wheat respectively.
They are each grown in vermiculite, which we don’t want the animal to ingest, so take care. Now that the weather is a bit milder, hopefully, I am going to plant them out and see how they do. When growth slows down in the winter, I can grow in trays indoors again.

The first time I gave it to him, in this clip, he was pretty enthusiastic about interacting with it probably due to the novelty factor, but now that I just leave it down for him, he will dip in and out as he chooses.

Clip 

Option 3 Among the grasses

Grass provides fun enrichment in other ways too, so allowing your dog choice-based access can tick lots of enrichment boxes too.

Your dog will certainly enjoy sniffing among grasses (Sniffathon rules apply), they often love to roll in it, and lots of dogs appear to experience great joy in bounding through long grass.

Clip

Have fun among the grasses today!

Option 4 Pet-friendly Gardening

With the growing interest in enrichment for dogs, developing sensory gardens for dogs is regularly discussed. If you are lucky enough to the have the space and resources, you can easily add garden features for your dog, but if you don’t, it’s possible to do it on a smaller scale too.

A sensory garden is a place where the dog can interact with their environment, in a relaxed state, and can just hang out. It should engage their senses and tick a range of enrichment boxes.

Think about Day 27 Adventure Time, where we looked at designing adventure outings for our dogs. When that’s not possible, bringing the adventuring inside or into your garden or yard may be the best alternative.

What activities does your dog find enjoyable?
The clues will be in what your dog is already doing, even if those are behaviours that are a problem for you. This is often destructive behaviours like digging or chewing and distracting behaviours like intense sniffing.

Consider cognitive, sensory, environmental, social and food based enrichment. A sensory garden should emphasise sensory feedback – visual, auditory, gustatory, tactile and olfactory.
It being a garden, most of this should come from ‘nature’ and likely, mostly from plants.

IMG_9562

Plants can provide a fully rounded sensory experience for dogs and may include:

  • bamboo – creates height, shelter, shade, acts as a sound and visual barrier, changes the way sounds and scents travel, and adds sound as it rustles in the wind
  • thyme
  • catnip
  • chamomile
  • grasses like wheat, barley, oat
  • valerian
  • lavendar
  • marigolds
  • rosemary
  • peppermint
  • lemon thyme

Space plants out and distribute away from one another, especially if strong smelling. Having all the scented plants together might be over powering.

Add plants in containers, which will protect them and allow you to rotate them. Plants in containers is the perfect solution if you don’t have the space or resources for a full-on garden.

Make different heights and substrates available to the dog, with a variety of substrates. Provide a digging area too if that’s your dog’s thing.

Arrange plants and obstacles to form pathways and encourage the dog to wander through each area.

Some nice ideas described in this piece.

ASPCA list of poisonous plants, list of plants toxic to dogs and list of plants toxic to cats

IMG_4902

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!

IMG_4321

 

Day 94 Winebox Puzzles Pt. 2

Welcome to Day 94 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!

Winebox Puzzles Part 2

At a glance:

  • taking puzzles to a new height, literally, changes the challenge greatly
  • cardboard wine bottle cardboard carriers make great puzzles…and they hold six bottles of wine…
    (Available from most off-licences and supermarkets.)
  • dress it up or down – a wide variety of puzzling challenges can be developed
  • food and cognitive based enrichment
  • adjusting the difficulty is easy so these are very adaptable puzzles
  • 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 puzzles for their pets.
    Remember, supervise children in all enrichment activities and interactions with pets.
  • prepping these puzzles will take 5-10 minutes and you can use lots of the bits and pieces we use in other puzzles
  • today, we suspend our winebox puzzles!

What do you need?

  • cord, a dog lead or similar
  • fabric shopping bag
  • a range of food rewards
  • a cardboard wine bottle carrier
  • an open box or tub (if you don’t have a wine box or if your dog isn’t quite ready to stick their head into a winebox)
  • paper such as toilet roll, newspaper, kitchen paper, packing paper
  • balls or other toys
  • muffin pan, small bowls, cardboard cup holder, paper cups
  • Stuffables
  • a variety of puzzling equipment…will often resemble rubbish 😉

img_9215

Enrichment Goals:

  • to encourage a wide range of foraging and exploratory behaviours
  • to do more feeding related behaviour than just eating
  • to encourage the development of strategies (behaviours) for getting the food out of  suspended puzzles
  • to help the dog develop skills in thinking through puzzles
  • to build confidence through learning to manipulate and solve different style puzzles

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 manipulate the puzzles to get to the food from suspended puzzles and developing dexterous skills 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.

These 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 puzzles, we can 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?

How can we achieve these goals?

  • give your pet plenty of space for working on winebox puzzles 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?

Applications of Winebox Puzzles:

Winebox puzzles, just like many of our homemade ‘rubbish’ puzzles, can keep dogs occupied as they offer different possibilities for expanding the dog’s behavioural range, truly engaging them cognitively. They are truly adaptable and again, you are only limited by your imagination!

Simple and easy to set up, these puzzles are great confidence boosters. Sticking their head into something, particularly a narrow space, can be daunting and worrying for lots of dogs.

Suspending these puzzles helps to expand your puzzling-arsenal and carefully increasing the challenge will really stretch the dog’s puzzling abilities.

These puzzles offer lots of different possibilities for expanding the dog’s behavioural range, truly engaging them cognitively.

What I tend to see, though, when puzzles are given to dogs, is that well-meaning owners go waaaaay over board, coming up with the most elaborate designs to really challenge their pet.

Suspending puzzles can be quite a change for many dogs so taking it easy and increasing challenge very gradually is more worthwhile.

While it’s great to go for challenge, it’s important that enrichment remain enriching. That means that the challenge must be made appropriate and doable for the individual puzzler.

Our job is to adjust the puzzle difficulty so that our dog uses a range of behaviour and gets to the goal pretty quickly.

This is the true way to improve the dog’s confidence in puzzling (and in life) and help them expand their behavioural repertoire.

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 to this puzzle.
Many eggboxes and other cardboard bases like cup holders, are made of pulp, which makes for a crumbly cardboard. This likely feels quite novel to many dogs and they may investigate this texture with their mouths; it also makes it very easy to eat.
Know your dog! If you have an ingester, some puzzles may not work  for you and at the very least, careful supervision will be required.

If you are concerned about your dog ingesting non-food items during puzzling, have a pocketful of HIGH value treats and be ready to toss a couple toward your dog, across their eyeline, if you think they are thinking about eating the puzzle.
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

Lots of winebox puzzling ideas:

Clip

Suspended Winebox Puzzles:

Suspending puzzles increases challenge suddenly and drastically. It’s important to work incrementally to help your dog develop skills (behaviours) to solve these puzzles.

Increase or decrease difficulty by lowering and loosening the line, and by working against a wall or surface or have the puzzles freestanding.

Beginners: 

  • puzzle is suspended at or lower than your pet’s chin height
  • the line is looser
  • puzzle is suspended against a wall or surface

Intermediate:

  • puzzle is suspended at or slightly above your pet’s chin height
  • the line is tighter
  • puzzle is suspended against a walk or surface

Advanced:

  • puzzle is suspended at or slightly above your pet’s chin height
  • the line is tighter
  • puzzle is freestanding

Clip

Suspend the following puzzles using a dog lead or cord, either free standing or against a surface or wall.

Or, stick the puzzle into a fabric shopping bag and suspend. Keep the challenge doable!

Option 1 Winebox Snuffle Puzzles

Beginners: 

Just add some food rewards to the base of the winebox and allow your dog to work on getting to it.

IMG_3956

Intermediate: 

Add some food to the base and add in a couple of balls or similar toys on top of that. This will encourage the dog to try to move them around, or even remove them, to get to the food.
Start by just adding one or two and build toward filling each space.

IMG_3957

Advanced: 

Cover the food on the bottom of the winebox with paper, pack it into each gap.

IMG_3958

Option 2 Winebox Teasers

I use a silicone muffin pan for teasers so that I can squeeze it into other puzzles easily. But, if you can’t do that, use small bowls or paper cups in each gap in the winebox.

Beginners:

Put the muffin pan into the winebox, upside down. Alternatively, stick a couple of upturned bowls or paper cups in each gap.

Distribute some food rewards around the muffin pan or cups.

Clip

Intermediate:

Make a teaser, in the winebox!

Add a muffin ban and place some food in each space. Top with a ball, a tube or paper balled up.

Place a paper cup or small ball in each gap and add some food. Top with a ball over the food in each one.

Add some food to the bottom of the winebox, and top with a toilet roll tube in each gap.

Advanced:

Turn a small bowl or paper cup upside down in each gap in the winebox, and place a treat under each one.

Clip

Option 3 Compound Winebox Puzzle

Now you get to really use your imagination and expand your dog’s puzzling abilities! Add a different puzzle to each gap in the winebox, or make multiples of the same puzzle and add one to each gap.

You could try:

…or anything you can come up with that your dog will enjoy!

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 93 Watersports

Welcome to Day 93 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!

IMG_0092

 

Watersports

At a glance:

  • fun in, around or under water!
  • sensory based enrichment
  • interaction or exposure to water is not loved by all dogs, but introduced carefully and with a choice-led approach, lots of dogs can have fun with water sports
  • get the family involved in this one – for the most part, the dog will be doing all the work
    All interactions between dogs and children must be supervised and extra care will be needed with both dogs and children AND water.

What do you need?

  • food rewards
  • favourite toys
  • access to water e.g. the seaside, lakes, canals, rivers, ponds, puddles, paddling pools (solid, not inflatable), large dog bowls, shallow trays or tubs

IMG_0997

 

Enrichment Goals:

  • to encourage interaction with water
  • provide outlets for sensory enrichment
  • to encourage interaction with their environment and help in the development of behaviours/strategies interacting with and exposure to water
  • to build confidence through choice-led interactions with sensory enrichment
  • to encourage dogs to choose and introduce choice into their day to day life

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

While most dogs do not have to become comfortable with water or ever learn to swim, providing dogs with sensory enrichment that involves water, even in very small amounts, may contribute to a well-rounded enrichment experience.

Contrary to popular belief, dogs, just like people, must learn to swim so care must be taken around water, particularly with novice dogs or young dogs.

Decker didn’t start swimming in the ocean until he was about 13 months, after many months of practicing paddling and swimming, all led by him, in ponds, streams and puddles. These are some of his first opportunities to swim in the ocean, at Dollymount Beach (above).

He started out with puddles and ponds and will still gravitate toward any water, that at least covers his wrists, to this day!

Exposing puppies to shallow trays of water that they can paddle through, is an excellent sensory and cognitive challenge for developing brains.

Interacting with their environment and experiencing different feedback from the world around them is confidence building.

Clip

How can we achieve these goals?

  • provide your dog with safe access to water and to today’s challenges
  • take the pressure off – allow the dog to decide if and when they interact with water
  • make water a fun part of the dog’s normal environment, without making too big a deal about it
  • allow the dog to guide interest or progress – this is all on them!

What adjustments will you make for your pets?

Applications of Watersports:

Swimming is pretty wonderful exercise and is fun for lots of dogs. But, swimming is not universally beneficial and trends in attending “hydrotherapy” need some reigning in.

While swimming might be beneficial as part of recovery from some injuries, traumas, surgeries, it’s not always so. And where it does provide benefits, hydrotherapy and swimming should form PART of a therapeutic recovery program.

Just swimming, as exercise and not much else isn’t great either as it doesn’t universally challenge all soft-tissue in a well rounded and balanced manner.

But as part of a dog’s overall exercise or fitness program, swimming and messing about in water is a wonderful addition.

Most dogs will need some help when introducing them to water, and may benefit from hanging out with a more aquatic pal.

IMG_6386
Decker is basically semi-aquatic, choosing access to water over pretty much everything else (even a bitch in heat)!

Sometimes tossing a toy or other item of interest can encourage them to dip their toe, but in general, too much encouragement reads as social pressure to which dogs are very sensitive. Allowing the dog work it out and consider their options, in their own time, will be better for confidence building.

IMG_7109

While swimming can be great exercise, most dogs will find it most arousing. Swimming requires a lot of physical exertion as well as considerable cognitive and mental involvement. As such, arousal increases to accommodate for the extra challenges the dog’s body is facing.

This means we might need to take care so that our dog can stay in control and has the opportunity to calm, out of the water and away from the action.

IMG_2053

Enrichment Options

Option 1 Swimming & Paddling

Bringing your dog to places where they can safely access water can be a really enriching experience for them. Bodies of water change how air and scents move, affect the terrain and the soundscape, maximising the sensory and enrichment experience.

Just paddling in shallow water, like puddles or streams, or even just moving across damp grass or wet ground can offer big sensory pay-off and encourage cognitive adjustment as the dog must adapt their movement and weight distribution to accommodate.

IMG_9284

Option 1 Challenges might include:

  • wetting a towel or blanket and laying it on the ground for your dog to interact with.
    This can be a great cooler for hot days, as it allows the dog to choose when they wish for cooling.
    Toss some food rewards across it on the ground to encourage the dog to move over it.
  • add some water to a shallow tray or tub and allow your dog to investigate or explore.
    Try tossing a toy into the water to encourage the dog to pop in and out.
  • use a child’s paddling pool and add a couple of inches of water – you can toss their toy in and out of the water

Bring your dog to shallow, slow moving water to introduce them. Make sure they have a gently sloping bank so that they do not become distressed going in or coming out.

Make sure the dog is secured on a long line or similar so that you can safely restrain them, if needed.

Clip

If your dog is to spend time close to a body of water, it’s recommend that you invest in a life-jacket for them and make sure that the dog is secured safely at all times.

When taking your dog swimming, know your dog and their swimming abilities, and know the currents and water conditions.

Stormy weather can lead to debris being churned up in bodies of water meaning that your dog could get caught on them and be injured by them.

Jellyfish, glass and even shells can lead to injuries and illness when at the beach.

Clip

Keep exposure to water brief – dry drowning, from aspirating water, or water toxicity, as a result of ingesting too much water are most likely to happen after a longer periods of exposure to water, especially when the dog is active, running in and out of the water, or fetching.

Generally, play in the water and swimming are highly exerting, meaning that you get a lot of bang for your buck!

Teaching your dog to go into the water on cue, is a great way of building a reliable recall. The dog returns to you to get you to send him in again – runaway recalls!

Clip

Clip

Option 2: Bobbing!

Your dog can bob for food rewards or toys!

Use a large dog bowl, shallow tray or tub and add a small amount of water – an inch or two is sufficient to get started with but you can make it deeper as your dog’s confidence grows.
Toss in some kibble or treats and wait for them a sink a bit before allowing your dog access.

Clip

Take it on the road and play  bobbing for kibble in puddles or streams! It’s best not to do this in sea water as ingestion of lots of salt water will cause vomiting.

Clip

Decker will fish for items in bodies of water, like this flooded ditch, or for anything overhanging water!

Clip

Clip

Care must be taken playing fetch in and out of water as the dog is more likely to aspirate or ingest more water, but brief reps of fetch or toy chasing into water will likely be fine. Know your dog!

Clip

Clip

Option 3 Blow Bubbles

This clip and tutorial has been a long standing favourite clip of mine, that I first saw when it was entered in an online clicker training comp, many many many years ago.

And while I have taught Decker this trick, and lots of other dogs too, and probably have video clips somewhere, this is the original and it stands the test of the time in terms of mechanical skill and managing training criteria – just lovely work!

Clip

 

Option 4 Pupsicles

Now, I know that this is a bit of a stretch but ice is just frozen water, right?! For the dogs who aren’t up for water sports today, enjoy some pupsicles instead!

Use any freezable containers, such as :

  • lunchboxes or bowls

20190117_082834648_ios

  • freezer or lunch bags

pupsicle

  • upturned non-slip dog bowls

20190117_082752600_ios

Line the underside of the bowl and add food, treats and water. Freeze and then pull the ring out. This can make a great suspended puzzle by hanging the ice-ring up with a dog lead.

  • muffin pans or similar baking trays

20190117_082935363_ios

  • ice cube trays, which are available in lots of different sizes
  • pyramid baking mats

Smear spreadable yummies and add add treats or food to each space. Freeze and then turn out.

Pupsicles ideas:

  • Fill each gap with a variety of possibilities; scroll down to our list of ingredients for Stuffables that can be used for these frozen chews too. We talk about Pupsicles there too.
  • Load each gap in a muffin tray or ice cube tray with a mix of your dog’s favourites and add a stick-like chew, such as a pizzle to each mix. Freeze and your will have pupsicles with sticks, just like a human ice-cream!
  • Make a gravy out of wet dog food or spreadables by mixing with a little water. Pour the mixture into the container, freeze and have different sized treats ready for training, for stuffing in toys and for enjoying.
    Using a pyramid tray makes small sized, handy treats and there are lots of recipes on line for baked treats too.
  • Add treats to each space and freeze or add smaller amounts of food, topped up with water, to make lighter snacks.
  • Freeze meat, wet dog food, or even a kibble mash and give the block to the dog to chew.
  • For dogs on more restricted diets, just adding their regular kibble or food to some water and freezing in a container can present a novelty that might be attractive to the dog.
  • Freeze fruits or vegetables in a tray or whole. If your dog needs enticement, dip the fruit or veg in some meat juices and freeze that. This is a great way to add low calorie, but very tasty treats, to a fat restricted diet.
    Always allow meat juices to cool and skim the fat first, before use.

img_9277

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!

IMG_8161

 

Day 92 Winebox Puzzles Pt. 1

Welcome to Day 92 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!

Winebox Puzzles Part 1

At a glance:

  • cardboard wine bottle cardboard carriers make great puzzles…and they hold six bottles of wine…
    (Available from most off-licences and supermarkets.)
  • dress it up or down – a wide variety of puzzling challenges can be developed
  • food and cognitive based enrichment
  • adjusting the difficulty is easy so these are very adaptable puzzles
  • 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 puzzles for their pets.
    Remember, supervise children in all enrichment activities and interactions with pets.
  • prepping these puzzles will take 5-10 minutes and you can use lots of the bits and pieces we use in other puzzles

What do you need?

  • a range of food rewards
  • a cardboard wine bottle carrier
  • an open box or tub (if you don’t have a wine box or if your dog isn’t quite ready to stick their head into a winebox)
  • paper such as toilet roll, newspaper, kitchen paper, packing paper
  • balls or other toys
  • muffin pan, small bowls, cardboard cup holder, paper cups
  • Stuffables
  • a variety of puzzling equipment…will often resemble rubbish 😉

img_9215

Enrichment Goals:

  • to encourage a wide range of foraging and exploratory behaviours
  • to do more feeding related behaviour than just eating
  • to encourage the development of strategies (behaviours) for getting the food out of  the puzzles
  • to help the dog develop skills in thinking through puzzles
  • to build confidence through learning to manipulate and solve different style puzzles

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 manipulate the puzzles to get to the food and developing dexterous skills 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.

These 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 puzzles, we can 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?

How can we achieve these goals?

  • give your pet plenty of space for working on winebox puzzles 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?

Applications of Winebox Puzzles:

Winebox puzzles, just like many of our homemade ‘rubbish’ puzzles, can keep dogs occupied as they offer different possibilities for expanding the dog’s behavioural range, truly engaging them cognitively. They are truly adaptable and again, you are only limited by your imagination!

Simple and easy to set up, these puzzles are great confidence boosters. Sticking their head into something, particularly a narrow space, can be daunting and worrying for lots of dogs.

While it’s great to go for challenge, it’s important that enrichment remain enriching. That means that the challenge must be made appropriate and doable for the individual puzzler.

Our job is to adjust the puzzle difficulty so that our dog uses a range of behaviour and gets to the goal pretty quickly.

This is the true way to improve the dog’s confidence in puzzling (and in life) and help them expand their behavioural repertoire.

Make it really easy for your dog by, for example, removing some of the inner cardboard frames or introducing these puzzles in an open box or tub and then gradually add challenge by using narrower boxes or closing over lids.
Let your dog’s comfort guide how quick you make progress.

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 to this puzzle.
Many eggboxes and other cardboard bases like cup holders, are made of pulp, which makes for a crumbly cardboard. This likely feels quite novel to many dogs and they may investigate this texture with their mouths; it also makes it very easy to eat.
Know your dog! If you have an ingester, some puzzles may not work  for you and at the very least, careful supervision will be required.

If you are concerned about your dog ingesting non-food items during puzzling, have a pocketful of HIGH value treats and be ready to toss a couple toward your dog, across their eyeline, if you think they are thinking about eating the puzzle.
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

Lots of winebox puzzling ideas:

Clip

Suspended winebox puzzles will be coming up in Part 2…

Option 1 Winebox Snuffle Puzzles

Beginners: 

Just add some food rewards to the base of the winebox and allow your dog to work on getting to it.

IMG_3956

Intermediate: 

Add some food to the base and add in a couple of balls or similar toys on top of that. This will encourage the dog to try to move them around, or even remove them, to get to the food.
Start by just adding one or two and build toward filling each space.

IMG_3957

Advanced: 

Cover the food on the bottom of the winebox with paper, pack it into each gap.

IMG_3958

Option 2 Winebox Teasers

I use a silicone muffin pan for teasers so that I can squeeze it into other puzzles easily. But, if you can’t do that, use small bowls or paper cups in each gap in the winebox.

Beginners:

Put the muffin pan into the winebox, upside down. Alternatively, stick a couple of upturned bowls or paper cups in each gap.

Distribute some food rewards around the muffin pan or cups.

Clip

Intermediate:

Make a teaser, in the winebox!

Add a muffin ban and place some food in each space. Top with a ball, a tube or paper balled up.

Place a paper cup or small ball in each gap and add some food. Top with a ball over the food in each one.

Add some food to the bottom of the winebox, and top with a toilet roll tube in each gap.

Advanced:

Turn a small bowl or paper cup upside down in each gap in the winebox, and place a treat under each one.

Clip

Option 3 Compound Winebox Puzzle

Now you get to really use your imagination and expand your dog’s puzzling abilities! Add a different puzzle to each gap in the winebox, or make multiples of the same puzzle and add one to each gap.

You could try:

…or anything you can come up with that your dog will enjoy!

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!

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