Monday, September 13, 2010

Enrichment Variety: Toys

Everyone knows that it's important to provide enrichment for our dogs. I'm constantly working to be better at providing a variety of enrichment activities for my dogs as well as helping clients better provide enrichment experiences for their pets.

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.

When I talk with students, we talk about different types of toys. Some toys go in multiple categories. Some dogs only like certain categories. Not all types are good for all dogs.
Training toys: Things pulled out for training, put away at other times. Some of these fit in other categories.
Tug toys:... toys we play tug with!
Fetch toys: Toys we fetch with.
Chew toys: These can be nylabones and bones or varied dried animal parts.
Kongs: Have their own category. They aren't quite chew toys, we don't have the dogs chew off pieces, but they aren't the same as other food dispensing toys either! Kongs can be stuffed solid, frozen, or filled with big dry biscuits.
Food dispensing toys: These are all the things we put our kibble or treat pieces in. Lots of nose pushing or pawing is used to make food come out.
Dissecting toys: Things we can tear apart. Most dogs used stuffed toys this way. Or paper.
Puzzle toys: Nina Ottosson type toys. Not something the dog does on his own without supervision.

But I hadn't thought about putting enrichment into the categories that "The Shape of Enrichment" uses. I've taken the chart and looked at applications for dogs. Part II soon!


Crystal said...

Oooh, we love food toys! Kongs, Tug-a-Jugs, various rolling balls and cubes... we have a whole basket full of these things!!

We also have chewies (bully sticks mostly), but those are bit rarer. Gotta watch the old waistline.

For non-food-toys, we have squeakies and stuffies, but those aren't very popular, barring the stuffed bunny head that gets brought to bed every night. She does have a torn up toy crab she likes, too, but right now it's all about the bunny head.

And of course... tennis balls. Good god, we love tennis balls. MORE TENNIS BALLS PLZ. Endless games of fetch. I often wake up in the middle of the night because a ball has been dropped on my head or under my body. *sigh*

Kristen said...

She has a lot of variety! Do you rotate toys or occasionally seek out new things that are completely different? It sounds like you're almost at a point where it's hard to provide variety!

(Though Maisy says that red tennis balls and blue ones and green ones and squeaky ones are different and thus count as variety!)

Crystal said...

We rotate food toys. The tug-a-jug is a fixture (except the rubber rope broke last week!!), and so is the Kong, but I try to mix it up once or twice a week by using the bob-a-lot or buster cube instead. I also feed raw meaty bones once or twice a week, which provides enrichment, too! :)

I have a whole basket of plush toys, and she does dig through it occasionally. And as for tennis balls- you're right. She does think the different colored ones are different. I assume she can smell the difference, because sometimes they're even the same color! Right now, she prefers the green one.