Thursday, September 16, 2010

Enrichment: Sensory

Last week I came across The Shape of Enrichment, an organization focused on enrichment, primarily for zoological settings. One of the pages had this nifty flow chart about types of enrichment.

Introduction: Toys
Social Enrichment
Cognitive Enrichment
Home and Routine

Find different types of surfaces your dog can interact with. Ask him to jump up on a rock or bench or log when out walking. Play with cardboard boxes at home. Get some straw or wood chips to put in your yard. Make a leaf pile or a pile of snow. Brushing, if your dog enjoys the process, can be a form of tactile enrichment. Have a variety of toys for your dog to interact with, look for different weights, shapes, sizes, and textures.

Animal scents can be purchased at hunting-camping stores. Get animal bedding from a petstore or a friend. Get different types of food or bring in cardboard boxes from the grocery store. Let your dog smell you after you've been out and about. Luna loves to do this!

Offer your dog a few pieces of different foods. You can use different types of dog food. Different 'people foods.' Different types of treats. Varied cooked vegetable/fruit pieces*.

Play music or leave the TV on while you're home or away. Find some animal sounds to play for your dog. The internet is a great resource for unusual sounds!

Play with a toy on a long rope. Let your dog watch wildlife outside (provided he is still fairly calm). Walk in new areas and constantly try to visit new locations. Vary the time of day so you see different people and activity levels.

Three goldens on an off leash walk. They're exploring an area with cow manure smells and wildlife smells. Note the two puppies on the front were having their first cow-smell experience and just stopped to smell. Griffin has been doing this for two years, he ran ahead and then looped back to get the others!

Taking your dog for a walk can combine all the above Your dog will feel different surfaces and interact with objects you come across. He will smell lots of different people, dogs, and animals that have been in the area. he will get to eat the variety of treats you brought to reinforce attention and good walking. He will see and hear people and animals and other things in the environment.

* Remember, sugar free candy, grapes, raisins, and dark chocolate are very dangerous
in small amounts!

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