Enrichment - Ideas for hot or stormy days
Australia isn't shy of hot summer days and - depending on where you live - storms are common, too! The last thing you and your dog want to do is go for a leisurely stroll on days like that. Here are some alternatives ways to entertain your fur buddy.
1. Snuffle Mats
Did you know that dogs see the world through their noses?
It can be hard to imagine what it's like being visual creatures ourselves. Dogs not only love to sniff but it is also a major need that should be met on a regular basis.
Slow sniffing activates regions in your dog's brain responsible for calmness. As sniffing provides plenty of mental stimulation for dogs, you will experience a happy and calmer dog in a shorter period of time compared to a simple walk on a short leash.
'Scent training is a great activity as it is incredibly mentally stimulating for your dog and uses their natural talent of sniffing things out.' - The Doggy Lady
While we love a good sniffy walk out and about, that's nearly impossible to achieve on hot Australian days. Often is can only be done safety in shor periods of time in the shade, early mornings or during the night.That's where snuffle mats come in handy! Never heard of them? You came to the right place! Snuffle mats are made specifically to entice dogs to forage and sniff. They come in various sizes, depending on your dog's size and needs. Snuffle Mats are typically created with fleece strips tied to a plastic base with holes in it, making it easy to hide kibble or other small dry treats between the strips.
Looking to get your own snuffle mat? Lickity Sniff is a local small business that got you covered!
2. WestPaw & Kong Toys
Our favourite food enrichment toys that are even better frozen!
Please keep in mind that enrichment activities should not be too hard for your dog as frustration can set in. If your dog has never seen a Kong, Toppl or Rumbl before, please don't go straight to freezing food in there. Difficulty levels depend on the individual as well as previous experience. We want these games to be fun and enriching!
West Paw's Rumbl toy, Toppl Toy as well as your standard red and black Kong toys are perfect for curious and playful dogs. You can enrich your dog's mind by using this slow feeder toy with either dry food and treats, or fill it with fresh raw food (frozen or unfrozen) that will keep your dog busy for a while! Both brands make highly durable toys with different sizing options to suit the needs from small Chihuahua to a Great Dane! You can find a variety of food fillable toys on our website at Native Collars.
3. Zippy Paw Burrow Toys
The Zippy Paw Burrow is Haggie's (pup in video) newest obsession and so versatile! It's the perfect toy for curious dogs to use their brain and figure out how to get the squeaky little arctic wolves out of their log. Play the video below to see what you need for a fun game that you can play over and over with your dog on hot days under the cool aircon.
Dogs love to have enrichment in their lives and the burrow interactive toy by Zippy Paws gives them just that.
To make it even more fun and engaging try adding dry food or treats into the log and use the grey arctic wolves to 'block' the entrance. This hide and seek toy will keep your pup busy over and over again.
4. Hiding Treats/Toys around the house
Speaking of Zippy Paw Burrow toys! The little foxes, wolves and elks are perfect for sniffing games around the house. You can hide one of the toys around the house and let your dog search for them. If you are just starting off, make it easy for your pup so they can use their eyes and nose to find it. Easy wins will be fun and you can gradually increase difficulty while your dog learns to rely more and more on their nose only.
Instead of hiding a toy, you can also hide multiple treats around the house to sniff out. Start off with really stinky food pieces so your dog gets the idea and can locate them easily! You can eventually hide their whole kibble meal (if kibble fed) for a fun food hunt.
5. Trick Training
Bored at home and even being out in the garden is too hot? How about learning a new trick?! We love teaching fun tricks to keep the brain enriched and engaged. Here are 3 of our favourite tricks and how to teach them:
If you would like a step by step instruction, you can find how to teach paw with positive reinforcement training in this article.
Middle (also known as peek-a-boo!) can be taught by luring your dog through your legs with a treat-and-mark-and-reward (read more about reward markers here) when your dog positioned between your legs. Once they are reliably lured into position, you can start to fade out the lure and use your hand only to guide them into position. Once again, mark and reward when your dog comes into position. When you know that your dog will perform the behaviour, you can start adding your chosen verbal cue (for example, 'middle' or 'peek-a-boo') and make your hand movements smaller and smaller. Have fun training!
Touch is a simple but very useful trick. You can start teaching 'touch' by simply holding your hand out. If you dog moves his face towards the hand, mark and reward the behaviour. Over time your dog will move their nose close and close to your hand. Eventually, your dog's nose will touch your hand and voila! You've done it.
Troubleshooting: If your dog doesn't show interest in your hand, you can simply place a treat in between two fingers to get your dog interested in touching your hand.
Practice a few rounds to see if your dog will put their snout on your palm when you hold your hand in front of them. If this works, you can begin slowly adding distance or adding the verbal cue. Once your dog touches the hand say 'touch' and mark and reward straight after.
Got any questions? Feel free to reach out to the Native Collars team through our contact form. :)