By Laura Nativo & Christine Young of Nativo Pet Company
One of the easiest forms of enrichment to provide daily, is nutritional enrichment the concept of encouraging dogs to use natural, instinctive behaviors to forage for their food.
There is no better time to #DitchTheBowl and make feeding time more fun and rewarding!
Pet parents who create regular positive experiences through nutritional enrichment games can look forward to infinite benefits for their canine family:
- a deeper bond
- increased confidence
- better problem-solving skills
- a healthy outlet for mental energy
- a safe alternative to nuisance behaviors
- a low impact form of physical exercise, especially good for seniors and specially-abled dogs
- a new level of trust, mutual understanding and realization that good things come from YOU!
For the first time in our lives, many pet parents are truly understanding WHY canine enrichment is so important to our four-legged family members. Think about the strange adjustment to our “stay at home” order… suddenly, we were confined to the same 4 walls that our dogs spend a majority of their lives in. Remember how uncomfortable it felt to be inside for days, weeks, only leaving the house to bravely run essential errands?
No more hiking, surfing, concerts, dog events, and so many activities that brought us joy! The monotony of eating, working, zooming, and doing everything from home~ raise your hand if you felt stir crazy! We joked about not knowing what day of the week it was. We missed our friends, family, co-workers and normalcy of our favorite enriching activities that were suddenly not allowed.
We finally, truly relate to our dogs. Their one neighborhood walk is like our lone adventure to the grocery story… we need more in life! As we slowly transition back to work, before our schedules get too busy… now is the perfect time to incorporate creative, awesome new activities to keep our pups mentally and physically engaged, and safely out of trouble!
It’s time to commit to more than a walk around the block.
Ditch the bowl, ration your dog’s daily meals, and instead, offer your dog’s food and treat intake through creative enrichment and positive reinforcement training!
A perfect compliment to DogTV, you can gift your dog hours of delicious fun for FREE!
At Nativo Pet, we’re excited to share a few of our favorite nutritional enrichment ideas.
Below are 5 fun nutritional enrichment alternatives to #DitchTheBowl:
#1) Snuffle Mat Feeders
A snuffle mat is a cloth mat designed to hide dry food, perfect for trash digging dogs who love to scavenge for food. Strips of fabric mimic blades of grass, falling over the food as your dog sniffs and digs to find their delicious buried treasure, like our freeze-dried raw Num Nums!
While you can buy a variety of snuffle mats, you can easily DIY out of a rubber floor mat and strips of fleece. You can even create a quick one using a twisted fleece blanket or shaggy bath mat! These are lightweight, easily portable, and machine washable.
#2 ) Muffin Tin Game
Borrow a muffin tin from your kitchen along with your imagination. Hide delicious healthy food like carrots, cheese, part of your dogs daily meal, our tasty Num Nums in the muffin cups, and cover with your dog’s favorite balls or toys.
Your dog will need to use their nose to locate the treats, their mouth or paw to remove the the balls, and their brain to find the remaining treats under some but not all of the options. This game appeals to your dog’s natural instinct to sniff, hunt, and forage for food.
#3) Lickable Enrichment Feeders
Lickable mats are a versatile form of nutritional enrichment, growing in popularity.
They are ideal for:
- Creating more fun and fearless vet visits
- Helping to condition crates and small places
- Reinforcing relaxed behavior during grooming sessions
Licking can relieve stress, help with calming and use up excessive energy. Lickable feeders are available with and without suction cups. A silicon pot holder is another option, you can use the hole with a carabiner to hang it at just the right height. Fill with a soft sticky base like plain yogurt, cream cheese, green veggie blend, or canned pumpkin. You can even add in tasty meats like tuna, sardines, liverwurst or Num Nums!
#4) Shredding Extravaganza
What puppy doesn’t love to chew and tear things apart? You can invent countless games up cycling items like egg cartons, Amazon boxes, paper grocery bags, toilet paper rolls and even old dog toys. Hide Num Nums and your dog’s daily meals in these items, then allow your dog to play “hide n go eat” sniffing around the house.
Or, create a shreddable game re-purposing old dog toys, a plastic bag dispenser or honey laundry basket. Cut up a few old wash clothes, a fleece blanket or make use of your dingy old t-shirts… wrap the fabric around your dogs’ Num Nums or Chillin Chews, and then thread the fabric-stuffed pieces through the holes in your toy. Your dog will experience the same thrill they get ripping fabric out of your sofa, with the bonus of knowing the food inside will be preferable to the material surrounding it.
#5) Frozen Enrichment Snacks
Frozen enrichment is the ideal long-lasting duration activity for the summer months. Dogs love pup-sicles filled with their favorite healthy snacks. You can use classic square ice cube trays, invest in fun silicone mold trays, or even use freezer-safe cups, bowls and super size your frozen enrichment with children’s sand castle buckets.
You can create infinite recipes using Num Nums, Chillin Chews and your dog’s favorite food, mixed with bone broth, chicken stock, coconut water… you can even add your dog’s favorite freezer-safe toys as a surprise! For voracious chewers who need extra supervision, try creating a 100% edible frozen enrichment toy! Core an apple, add in a spoonful of yogurt, and stick your dog’s favorite flavor Chillin Chew through for an inexpensive, delicious treat.
Frozen enrichment creates the perfect outdoor opportunity for licking their heart outs finding treasures as things melt. They can also distract dogs while in the yard to help prevent unwanted outside behaviors that develop from boredom like barking and fence fighting.
Enrichment is one of the kindest ways we can help keep our canine kids’ life interesting.
When our dogs have more fun, we all have more fun!
Don’t miss out on all of the CANINE ENRICHMENT FUN!
Catch our Facebook Live Events to celebrate Canine Enrichment Week
Go to our Canine Enrichment page to find out about our GIVEAWAYS, FREE DOGTV and CANINE ENRICHMENT TIPS.
Read about How To Enrich Your Home For Your Dog’s Enjoyment & Enrichment.
The Importance Of Socializing Puppies And Adult Dogs is discussed in this article.
We shared an article about The Importance Of Physical Enrichment For Your Dog.