Almost everyone has a soft spot in their hearts for dogs. Dog enrichment is especially fulfilling since dogs are companion animals, with an innate affinity for humans. Human interaction is one facet of an overall enrichment program, and can enhance the other types of enrichment we provide.
Dogs benefit from a complex environment. The inclusion of a private den area provides a separate sleeping area. This also provides “choice” to allow animals to be social or to be alone. The addition of an opaque panel between runs or cages can provide this private area.
Dogs are intelligent and derive pleasure from exploration and problem solving. Presenting treats in a novel fashion that requires the animals to extract the treat stimulates those instincts. Positive reinforcement training also involves these skills. Complex toys provide problem-solving practice and the opportunity to develop dexterity, coordination and balance.
Many dogs are “oral”, and will always have something in their mouths if it is available. Bones and toys that can be carried, licked or chewed will satisfy these behavioral activities. While there are certainly breed differences in preferences, chewing is a universal dog behavior. Enrichment focusing on chewing can provide countless hours of enjoyment. Items designed for chewing need to be durable, non-toxic, and able to pass through the digestive system without damage if they are eaten.
Dogs are pack animals, with a hierarchical social structure. This is an important consideration when providing any enrichment treats and objects, as dominance issues could result in fighting and injuries.
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