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    • Ask The Expert
    • 25 Aug, 2020

    Working hard to keep our dogs enriched and entertained

    Our Kennels team recognise the importance of enrichment for dogs, both during periods of lockdown and in times where restrictions are lifted.

    We caught up with our Head of Kennels to find out how the team have been keeping our pooches enriched, entertained and calm right now.

    What is enrichment and why is it important for our pets?

    Enrichment helps satisfy both the physical and psychological needs of dogs. It provides an outlet for our dogs to exhibit normal behaviours, which is crucial to their welfare, and helps them express themselves, release any pent-up energy and reduces boredom and stress. Enrichment activities are also incredibly fun for you and your dog to do together!

    Enrichment activities can cover any of the five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste.”

    Do you tailor enrichment activities to suit an individual dog?

    To ensure every dog’s stay with us is as comfy, homely and stress-free as possible, we provide a tailored enrichment plan for each dog that comes into our care. Every dog is different and we believe that it’s really important that we cater to each of their individual needs!

    It’s also always interesting to see which plants or toys each dog chooses, because they each have their own preferences. Knowing their preferences makes it easier to keep the dogs engaged and keep unwanted behaviours at bay.”

    What types of enrichment do you use?

    “There are many different things our dogs enjoy, from food, toys and physical activities, to social play with other dogs and puzzle solving. Some dogs may get bored easily and some take a little longer to learn, so it’s all about finding that particular interest a dog may have and using that as an incentive, and ultimately, the reward. For this reason, we try to provide our dogs with a variety of enrichment activities at various levels.

    Food based enrichment is probably the most widely used method of enrichment in our kennels, because it can be used at meal times and also because the dog is more likely to interact, especially if it’s their favourite food or an extra special, tasty treat! The aim of food-based enrichment is to prolong feeding times and provide mental stimulation.”

    “We often split up our dogs meals into a number of smaller portions to be given out throughout the day, and place these portions into activity feeders. We use Kongs, hide food in boxes, toilet rolls, paper bags and we also scatter feed (this is where you simply scatter their food over a large area such as around the kitchen or garden).

    By doing this, we are providing the dog with cognitive enrichment and are enhancing their mental stimulation. With their food tucked away in different compartments, the dog has to think about how to access the tasty food inside.

    Another form of sensory enrichment that we use is olfactory enrichment, which targets the dog’s sense of smell . Our sensory garden, an outdoor run which acts as a safe haven, is made up of numerous different smells, textures and sounds. The plants in the garden provide stimulation and enrichment, but each has also been specifically chosen for its healing properties and ability to reduce stress and anxiety. For example, we plant lavender, which helps reduce anxiety in dogs.”

    “There is also social enrichment which involves social interactions and play with other dogs. They are highly sociable animals, and most dogs thrive in the company of others.

    To help provide our dogs with physical enrichment and an outlet for their natural instincts, we use agility with our dogs. Agility is a great sport in which a handler directs a dog through various obstacles, and is a lot of fun for both the dog and their human. It provides physical and mental exercise; it can help develop a dog’s confidence and is a great way to strengthen the bond between the dog and the person.”

    What do you do to ensure every dog’s stay in kennels is comfortable?

    “Dogs come to us for many reasons – they may have been rescued as a stray, been handed over by their owner or rescued from a welfare situation. To help make each of our dogs’ stays as calming and comfortable as possible, we have put homely items like televisions, radios and sofas in all of our kennels. We also provide essential oil fragrances tailored to each dog, which help to soothe and calm them.”

     

    Helping your dog adjust

    As coronavirus restrictions continue to relax, and some of us return to work, our dogs may become uneasy and stressed with the changes to their routines. To help make this transition as stress free as possible, we have put together some tips and advice to help you prepare your pooch for another shift in routines.

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