Wet & Cold outside? … That’s ‘SNOW’ problem … Give your pooches extra ‘Mental Stimulation’ instead!

by Kirsty McCallion // April 2018

Wet & Cold outside? … That’s ‘SNOW’ problem … Give your pooches extra ‘Mental Stimulation’ instead!

If your dog does not want to go out in the cold, rain or in the ‘white stuff’ that we’ve just had over the past few days then do not fear! Mental stimulation is just as important as physical so keep your pooches in and give them extra things to work out, play with and enjoy and keep them warm, dry and most of all happy!!

Our Senior Coach Kirsty’s pooches do NOT like getting their paws wet and cold and much prefer to be in the cosy warm playing games and enjoying some mental stimulation instead!  Below is a photo of them after their ‘Personalised Breakfast Boxes" (using Kirsty’s left over human enrichment box that she thoroughly enjoyed), toy play = De-fluffing a few stuffed toys between them, and finally having half their dinner in a ‘Cutlery tray’ and half in a Kong!

Each exercise took them a good amount of time to complete and as you can see they both had LOTS of fun and the end result = ZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!

Here’s a list of different enrichment ideas you could try out with your pooch

Kongs

Stuff with their food, or smear some peanut butter or cream cheese in it. Always start easy if your dog is new to Kongs and when they become a pro – try packing it tight or even freezing it!

Snuffle Mat 

You can see other schools blogs here and here ‘DIY Snuffle Mats to see how to make one of these yourself, there very easy to make and great fun!

Boxes - e.g. Parcel/Cereal etc - Example:

Using their food allowance, wrap some of it in newspaper, put it into an empty cereal book, wrap up a toy, put that in, wrap up a dental stick, put that in, smear something tasty on parts of the box and give it to your pooch to enjoy!! This can take them between 5 to 60 mins depending how exciting/hard you have made the box!

Milk Cartons 

Put some dry kibble in the empty carton, if your dog is finding it too hard to get the kibble out, punch some holes in the side to help them out!

Egg Boxes 

Fill the egg holders with some of their food or a few treats!

Toys 

Toy play is very fun and is a great way to interact with your pooch. Also letting them chew/ rip them up is a great source of enrichment!

Scent Work (both in & outdoors)

Sprinkle some of their food around the house/in the long grass! The better your pooch gets at it, the better you need to hide it!

Marker Cones - (Like the yellow once in the photo below)

These are great for hiding food in covering up with their toys, getting them to use their noses and ‘find it’.

Stuffed bones 

You can buy bones already stuffed with food, these are great to re-use and fill with some of your pooch’s food.

Remember, whilst enrichment is great for your dogs, they may not understand it straight away. The same applies to toy play; this doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy it once they learn. Encourage them and help them to work it out, we don’t want to dampen their confidence or build frustration. With the enrichment make it easily initially, once they start understanding it this will increase their confidence and then you can start increasing the difficulty. It is also important that we don’t ‘over feed’ our dogs, using your dog’s daily food allowance is key! A good tip … Measure it out at the beginning of every day so you know how much you have to play with throughout the day. You can then use this for any of the enrichment previously explained. However, a bit of smelly cheese or sausage in the mix is always good for some extra motivation!

All of the above falls under the ‘Appropriate Play’ section which we teach in our classes.

GO MAKE MESS

&

HAVE FUN!!!!

You can find out more about classes or about booking a class by emailing us at LondonDogSchool@dogstrust.org.uk or calling 01895 876146.

We’d love to see pictures of your dog’s enjoying some Mental Stimulation/Enrichment/Play! - Tweet us @dogschoollondon, Instagram us @dogschoollondon, or tag us #dogschoollondon