What Enrichment is NOT.
Yes, these can be fun and important for some dogs too…
but, they are NOT forms of Enrichment.
They are food-dispensing toys, commonly used to replace feeding from a bowl to create opportunities for dogs to eat more like they would in the nature.
With the best of intentions, many arrangements fail the dog in behaving in a species-typical way, creating frustration or learned helplessness.
When properly designed, toys can be used as tools to promote a wide range of species-appropriate behavior patterns. To do this, we must keep three things in mind:
- The individual dog
- The dog’s motivation
- The target behavior
It’s important to note: when using food dispensing toys, we are promoting feeding behavior to strengthen in intensity, duration, and frequency. When these behaviors are reinforced so heavily, they have the potential to create disruption or distress in the wrong environment.
Aggression is a normal and common behavior in protecting valuable resources against others, especially resources that are scarce. For example, African Wild Dogs will behave aggressively towards other animals, including non-familial African Wild Dogs after completion of a hunt and during feeding.
This is normal. The practice of this behavior begins in puppyhood.
As normal as it is, aggression is not a behavior dog parents wish to facilitate experience in. By getting a head start through our Puppy Preschool, we can teach (with ease) more appropriate alternative behaviors that will become more prevalent during adulthood.
Enrichment is not exclusive to the use of food,
to promote hunting, scavenging, and foraging behavior.
Enrichment is inclusive of all 6 areas of well-being:
And, Enrichment is a “whole body” and “all senses” experience.
The framework of Enrichment allows us to trigger new neurological pathways for learning, coping, adapting and adjusting in a biologically appropriate and species typical way for dogs in captivity.
Enrichment is achieving wellness.