Monday, September 13, 2010

Enrichment Variety: Social

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.

Now, not all of the categories and activities will apply to all individual dogs or households. Everyone will need to use the most appropriate options!

Dogs can have interactions with other dogs and even other animals. My dogs get interaction time with each other every day. In the house, they have different types interactions than when outside in the yard. In the house, there is more wrestling and chewing of hooves next to each other. Outside, there is more chasing, running, and rough play.


Luna used to get to go to the dogpark to play with other dogs. Griffin used to get to play with other dogs at scheduled play times. He's now not as interested in other dogs and our schedule doesn't allow for as much playtime. Luna lost her interest in playing with other dogs as she aged.


My dogs do still get time around other dogs... in training class and when we pass other dogs in public. That type of interaction also goes under the "sensory" category, with the visual, olfactory, and auditory components. For dogs who are not appropriate to play around other dogs, but can walk well in public without being stressed, this can be a great way to provide good exposure to other dogs. It's not the same level of "social" as real interactions, and maybe the professionals who wrote the chart would not count these pass-bys as social enrichment, but I sure will. Even with a brief glance there's a bit of communication going on!

We can also have interactions with other species. Those in multi-pet households sometimes see this. My dogs occasionally interact with my cat. They see, smell, and pass the cows on a regular basis. One year when I bottle raised a calf, the calf treated Blaze just like a mother!


It's much easier to provide dogs with social enrichment through humans. There are many different types of people that dogs can meet. Very reactive dogs obviously shouldn't be in a position that is very stressful or putting any humans at risk. But shy dogs and those who are safe at a distance can still be around people they are comfortable with.
Dogs can interact with family members and friends, but strangers also provide another aspect of enrichment. My dogs sure treat different 'categories' of people in varied ways. Kind of like that socialization post last week... we need to provide variety of humans to maintain manners and friendliness.

The chart lists an "other" category, but I don't find these to be as important with dogs.

What types of social enrichment does your dog get? How do you provide variety? What "other" types of social enrichment do you use?


Crystal said...

Social enrichment is so hard... we have two cats, one of which Maisy adores (and who adores her right back), but other than that, Maisy doesn't get much non-human interaction. She sees dogs in the neighborhood, but they're generally barking, charging or generally being rude. We hang out with a greyhoud from time to time, but they aren't allowed to play due to size differences. She sees them in class, but again, no interaction. I do wonder if we should get a second dog, but... well, I've been through that.

Human interaction is largely my husband and I, though she gets to play with the trainer in class as well as the neighbors (including a child). She sees lots of people on walks, but I don't let them interact with her anymore because THEY WON'T LISTEN TO ME when I tell them how to approach and pet her. UGH.

Kristen said...

Going with your ball post... does she play with strangers? "Throw the ball [on a rope so it doesn't roll and bounce much] to THAT square" might mean less closeness and more directions followed?

It's great that Maisy DOES have so many people and animals she has a relationship with. Even though the number is small, there is variety there. And having those relationships and interactions will only make future ones easier. The hardest situations are when a dog is the only pet in a one person home. Variety is so foreign to those dogs and a huge challenge!

Crystal said...

Maisy will play ball with anyone, anywhere. And if there is no one to play ball with, she'll play by herself:
(It's not the best video, I know- you lose so much quality when you upload to youtube.)

When we used to go to the dog park, Maisy conned pretty much everyone into throwing her ball. It was pretty funny, actually. I've never tried it on a walk, although it's an interesting idea.

And since I'm sharing videos, here's one of the cat and dog playing:
It sort of looks like Malcolm is attacking her, but I assure you, that's play.

This doesn't really fit under the "social" category, but I do work really hard at enrichment via new experiences/places. I try to take a different walking route once or twice a week, and this summer we've done pretty good at going hiking at a state park semi-regularly. I'm really excited now that it's fall- there's so few people there now, so I can let her off leash!