Did you know that dogs are thought to have up to 300 million olfactory receptors (specialized cells of the mucous membrane) in their noses as opposed to cats with 80 million and us mere humans with 5 million? Is it any wonder then that a lot of our dogs spend the majority of their time on walks with their noses close to the ground…as they can smell the lightest of scents that we would not even notice. It is through sniffing that dogs get to understand the world around them, a bit like social media for us! They learn which dogs have been there before them, what they had for dinner, as well as what is new in the world. So the more we can let our dogs sniff the more they will learn and as 40% of the receptors are brain related, the more mental energy they will use up by sniffing. If you can engage your dog in games that use their brain – they will not only love you for it but they will also be calmer and more contented as a result…..a win-win situation! As a dog trainer I find that it is easy for clients to forget sometimes that dogs need mental stimulation as much as our children or indeed ourselves to keep them balanced and happy ……a really good way of doing this is by play;
So……what games can we play ….I hear you ask? Well how about;
- “Find it” games – hide your
dogsfavourite treats or toys around the house or garden and teach them to find it
- Let them sniff whilst out walking – hiding treats in tree roots or long grass and letting them sniff it out
- Puzzle games – put kibble in a rolled up towel (can be part of their dinner) and let them work out how to get to the kibble by unrolling the towel or buy a puzzle game that needs brainwork to discover how the treats are accessed
- Put kibble in your empty toilet roll or kitchen towel centres – letting them play with them until they can get the treats out (always supervise to ensure no cardboard is swallowed)
- Buy a sandpit and let them dig to their
heartscontent – great for Terriers of any description
- Stuff a kong with dog peanut butter, soft cheese and kibble – let them lick it clean and you can freeze it in summer creating a great way of keeping cool for your dog too! Just don’t forget to run it under the tap before giving to your dog to minimise the risk of freezer burn.
The list goes on…be creative and have some fun finding out what it is that your dog loves to do, if they are not treat oriented then find a favourite toy for hiding – not only will you increase your bond and trust with your dog but you will also experience a much calmer and contented pup as a result. Don’t forget that all enrichment games should be supervised with your dog and that way you get to join in too!
Do email me pictures of your dog enjoying an enrichment game at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Call Rhona for information on how she can help coach you to transform your dog on 0797 6620840