My dogs have never been fed out of a bowl as we turn mealtimes into a chance to ensure they have quality canine enrichment time.
Dogs, by nature, are foragers and love it. All dogs, no matter what the bread, love sniffing out food etc. and find it both fun replacing and, believe it or not, helps tire them out, which makes food games so important.
All animals need food to live, including dogs, so as well as being an essential requirement, food can be motivating and interesting enough to merit a little sniff effort. The great thing about food games is that dogs are natural foragers. It is easy to start them off with simple games that are impossible to get wrong.
To get started, scatter some of their kibbles over the floor for them to gather and eat. Once they have the idea, you can move outside and scatter the food on the grass.
Food games based around foraging are great for building confidence and mentally tiring the dog to help them relax. As your dog gets used to earning his mealtimes and finding food, you can start to hide it under objects and play games like the muffin tin or place the food in an egg carton with a hole for them to shake the food out. With some basic recycled material and a little imagination, the options are almost endless, and your dog will be happy and confident with its success.
I don’t have the time to play canine enrichment games. I hear you say
The great thing about these games is that you can play them in short bursts f 5 minutes at a tie throughout the day. Try shutting yourself in a room with several props and problems – leaving your dog outside the door. I have written several blog posts on items that can be used for games, including old towels, safe recycling, old socks, boxes etc. Anything that offers potential hiding places for food.
Whilst your dog is out of the room, please spend a few minutes hiding food around the room but make sure it is within your dog’s capacity to find it by scavenging. You will find that this time is relaxing for you and the dog whilst you switch off from the world.
Then let your dog in the room and watch how much he enjoys himself. In the summer, the garden is a great place to do this, too – the heady mixture of grass and tasty food scent will be delightful for a foraging dog.
Once your dog has the hang of working for his food by scavenging, you can move the game to the outdoors when out on walks where fallen trees, long grass etc., provide lots of opportunities to play scavenger games. This not only helps mentally tire your dog but can also be used as a great distraction by offering a foraging opportunity with a chew activity. It can help distract the dog from something in the distance that may make him worry and help him relax.
All our one-to-one walks include the opportunity to play various scavenger games to help mentally tie them out and distract any problems in the
Enrichment doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated, so let your imagination run wild. Enjoy!
- Do you have a bored dog?
Is your dog mentally as well as physically activated
- How to Entertain our dog whilst in self-isolation
- Ditch the bowl
Make mealtimes s fun by ditching the bowel and doing things like scattering the food or playing find it.
- The Muffin Tin Game
This is an excellent game of hiding and seek and ideal for scent hounds that like to sniff. Easy to set up with some basic equipment. No Special Skills are Required.
- Dog Toys from Socks
Some fun and challenging games that are easy to make out of old socks
- Rotating Bottles
This game is based on three bottles with dog treats in them, and the dog has to work out how to spin the bottle at the right speed.
- Quick and Easy Games
A collection of some quick and easy games using everyday articles
- Ideas to mentally entertain your dog
Disclaimer: Always supervise your pet when letting dogs play with homemade or commercial toys. Immediately take the toy away if they start to chew/swallow any pieces or break them apart. Finchley dog walker is not responsible for any harm that may come to your dog.