Our Sam loves it when Kong sends me new toys to test! Here he is trying out a new dog food dispensing toy called the Tiltz. Enrichment is so important for dogs. There are so many fun ways you can use food to create fun indoor games for your dog, and so many toy choices too.
One of the greatest gifts that behavior science has given me is the incredible ability to modify behaviors in the least intrusive, most positive way. Often times I can set myself and my pets up for success simply by rearranging the environment to make the wanted behavior easier than the unwanted behavior.
Sound confusing? It is really not.
I often talk about the benefits of feeding at least a portion of your dog’s food, through training and activities including dog food puzzle and chew toys. When we bring animals into our homes, we need to remember that enrichment is such an important piece of setting ourselves, our pets, and our relationship up for success. Providing our pets with opportunities to problem solve, exercise their minds and bodies, and use their senses allows them to expend energy they need to use in positive ways and also adds to their quality of life. If you don’t believe me, read my blog post about scientific research that demonstrated it.
Can you relate to the photo? Over and over my mom tells Sam to go away when she sits on the sofa at night and he looks at her this way, but he knows better. If he persists, eventually she will get up and get him a chew toy.
I am a pretty consistent exerciser, working out about 5 to 6 times a week. There is such an emphasis with people to strengthen our core – the muscles of our abs, spine and supporting limbs. That strength decreases lower back pain and stress on the rest of our body, and helps us to have more upright posture and prevent injuries.
I was reminded again the other day, the importance as a teacher of recognizing that different animals learn differently, have different thresholds for frustration, and different values of reinforcement. That recognition and application to the lesson at hand can very well be what either helps and animal succeed…or fail.