What is Enrichment?

In captivity, food, water, and shelter are supplied, territory is delineated, social groupings are usually fairly stable and structured, the risks of predation is minimal (almost zero), and there is a severe lack in quality of characteristics that enhance captive living.

Captive living strips animals from their abilities to pursue conditions that help them thrive. We would like to think captive habitats have made it possible for every animal to be a survivor but maybe they are causing more distress and weakness in the total animal.

The aim of University of Doglando’s Enrichment Center, is to provide dog parents with an historical perspective of what dogs were bred to do, and their ability to form such close “working/collaborative and mutually respectful” relationships with humans throughout evolution, and for each dog to have a lifestyle that allows them to practice in experiences that result in rich mental, emotional, physical, and intuitive growth.

University of Doglando’s enrichment program is a framework that presents and continuously evaluates an enrichment initiative to all dogs at an individual level, not just a species level.

Enrichment – Doglando’s Definition

Noun:  the action of improving or enhancing the quality or value of an experience.

    • en- the width of a unit of measurement
    • rich – abundant
    • ment – expressing the means, or a result of a species typical behavior in a way that strengthens each individual dog in their behavioral well-being

Doglando’s 8 Spheres of Enrichment

1. Environmental Enrichment Devices
2. Habitat Enrichment
3. Sensory Enrichment
4. Food Enrichment
5. Social Groupings
6. Behavioral Conditioning
7. Relationship Enrichment
8. Physical Handling Conditioning

Doglando’s Canine Enrichment Model is based on best training practices validated by science and include the following elements:

  • Influence of the environment: We consider the environment to be the first teacher of behavior. Therefore, careful and intentional consideration has been placed into the creation of our nature-rich outdoor environments – to ensure our dogs can and will do things that are normal to their biology, and natural to their history – and our home-like indoor environment, to influence the results we (as their human counter parts) would like of them. The combination of the two environments offers peace, harmony and well-being.
  • Pre-teaching opportunities: As a cohort learning model, Doglando believes the success of every dog is limited by the joint commitment of you (the dog owner) and our team. Together, we are able to teach the dogs the skills he/she needs to be successful in our environment. Unlike daycare, our Canine Enrichment Model is created to protect the integrity of every dog, to enhance them in their own behavioral well-being LIFELONG.
  • Pre-learning: It is our belief that dogs are highly intelligent, adaptive, and flexible learners, and that many dogs are “stuck” in their adult life because of the lack of nurture and nature they received as puppies. No matter the age, dogs should not be “thrown in” and made to “figure it out.” We describe Enrichment as a series of processes that are intentional and deliberate in helping dogs learn the outcomes we wish for them to have, as well as those outcomes they choose for themselves, which richen their living experience throughout their entire lifetime.
  • Goal Setting, Planning & Documentation: Doglando is a systems-based operation. Every routine, ritual, and event has set goals, and are part of a plan that we carry out throughout the entire day. We are not an after-thought or a hobby, we are a working laboratory. Our entire team practices processes that are developed and continuously revised to provide rich, authentic, and powerful living experiences that bring meaning back into what it means to be a “companion dog”. To ensure the highest level of care, experience, and safety, we are steadfast in our beliefs and adhere strongly to our protocols.

three dogs on tiresLearning is Constant

While the exercise of practicing to hop up onto a tire may not seem like a worthwhile activity, there is a lot of opportunity in this action!

Hopping up onto a tire teaches a dog to use their body in ways they otherwise might not.

This exercise teaches the dog…

  • to gauge their environment,
  • to learn how to get all four paws onto a smaller, oddly-shaped surface,
  • and to balance their weight to position themselves off the ground, while strengthening muscles they don’t normally use.

Once successfully on the tire, we then practice extending the duration by reinforcing the dog while she remains on the tire, even with the distraction of other dogs moving around her.

Creating such opportunities to learn helps build confidence and makes the dogs happy to engage with us.  And, they are also extremely valuable when applying them to real world experiences, such as grooming.

Imagine how the experience of standing on a strange surface like a tire can bolster the confidence of a dog standing on a veterinarian’s exam table!

We teach dogs through choices and opportunities rather than by using force and restrictions.

YES, the gate is open, but you will be reinforced for waiting rather than rushing past.

YES, you were playing with another dog when the Play Professor called you, but if you come, you will be reinforced and you can always return to play in a moment.

By consistently offering opportunities to make better choices, followed by outcomes that reinforce those better decisions, we can increase the likelihood of those behaviors happening, and the poor choices will fade away.

In this way, we empower the dogs to make choices, to try new things and to problem-solve.

This is why we say we are More Than Daycare.  Doglando is an Enrichment Center.

Every day, we enrich your dogs’ lives.  Our Play Professors love to discover what your dog is passionate about, and then to help them achieve their passion.

Our enrichment dogs dream about…

  • dock-diving and swimming in our 40-foot long standard pool
  • digging in our private dog beach, with natural sand and a shallow entry lagoon (for those not yet ready for the bigger pool)
  • playing a game of Fetch on our 3.5 acres of natural grass
  • scavenging our marsh and forest areas,
  • swimming across our natural pond, or going for a ride in the canoe
  • running through a tunnel and climbing to new heights on our playsets
  • crossing a wobbly bridge to gain balance and confidence
  • or sleeping under the many trees that shade our Jungle Gym area

There is so much to do here, and something for every dog! Our Play Professors are always ready to spot new learning opportunities, and engage the dogs in safe and healthy play.

We would love for you to stop by and take a tour of our campus today! If you’re looking to train your puppy or adult dog, or enroll them into our Enrichment Program, we will be happy to schedule a behavioral assessment for your dog, to begin enrollment into the University of Doglando.

Please feel welcome to contact us with any questions or inquiries you may have!