When providing animal enrichments, don’t forget the human involved. For many larger animals, the person with the toy or treat in hand is part of the animal’s overall enrichment experience. Two that come quickly to mind are dogs and primates. They anticipate your arrival, and will often greet regular caregivers.
Most people, either consciously or unconsciously, talk to their animals. In fact, it seems to be second nature. We don’t realize how many conversations we have with our charges as we clean, feed and otherwise interact with them. Tone and intensity level are important, so pay attention to your voice; loud noises bouncing off of hard surfaces are not calming.
Enrichment items can be actively introduced to animals as playtime; a ball tossed into enclosures encourage animals to give chase, and pull toys can be playfully tugged. Any type of interactive activity enhances the animal’s environment.
Don’t forget the human touch. Animals will respond to a head pat or a kind stroking. If it is safe and permitted, this tactile enrichment can be provided while performing physical health checks. In fact, some studies suggest that this interaction is good for both the human and the animal.