One of the most successful ways to keep your dog happy and busy whilst you are out from the family home is to introduce some environmental enrichment.
Essentially you are giving your dog lots of fun things to think about and do whilst you are away at work for the day, it also helps them keep up their natural behaviors of sniffing out items, being inquisitive and perhaps jumping up, digging and reaching for objects.
Some examples that are easy to make, cheap and the kids will also have fun being involved! These include objects that make the dog think, so instead of buying expensive toys, simply make them!
Keep old plastic bottles that you were going to recycle and cut some holes in them here and there, put treats inside the bottle, smear peanut butter or vegemite (remember I’m from Australia!) and stick more treats on the outside to the paste. The dogs will go crazy for these. You can also freeze food to give to your dogs. For instance, carrots are an excellent frozen treat. If you include them in a treat bottle or container too, it makes it harder for your dog to get to the carrot.
Another great option I use is keep butter containers and fill them with water and stock (chicken or beef), put treats inside them such as a small raw bone, liver treats or ones that your dog loves and freeze them. Keep a stockpile of these frozen treats ready to go in your freezer so you can just grab and pop them out before you head off for the day. It will like a big icy pole for your dog with some great taste not just once they get to the treat but melting the water too.
Hanging treat objects from a rope (just make sure the dog can’t get tangled in it) is also very effective. Simply pop treats or their normal meals in the treat ball, bottle or container you are hanging and every time your dog goes to touch it to get the food out, it moves back and forth. This makes it even harder for your dog to get the reward and if it’s of high enough value to your dog he will continue to work for it.
A fun thing that we also do at home is hide bones, treats and treat toys so that again the dogs have to forage around the garden to find them.
All of these options make your dog work for the treats, keeps them mentally active and once getting rewarded for finding the food, they also get a full belly and will most likely sleep afterwards.
All of these behaviours will save your outdoor furniture, hoses, BBQ’s, plants, garden beds and anything else you have that is precious to you outside from getting chewed and destroyed.
You will be very happy that your dog is focusing on these fun things and it isn’t costing you lots of money in repairs.
So start thinking about ways you can keep your dog busy whilst you leave for the day, how to make them interested and excited about their treats and you can substitute treats for the meals themselves if you are worried at all about over feeding your dog. Some treats and bones, as long as they are raw won’t hurt as extra food for them, as long as you stick to food that is low in fat and low in salt.
Nicola has trained with dogs for over 25 years, at this point to over 8000 dogs. She started her work doing volunteering in various Vet surgeries and animal shelters, particularly focusing on behavioural issues with abused and neglected dogs. Training under a Veterinary Behaviourist, learnt many aspects of canine psychology and behaviour. From there she worked for many years in various RSPCA shelters in parts of Australia. Eventually owning a franchise and formally training under the ‘Dog Whisperer’ in Australia. Nicola started her own business ‘The Dog Blog’, back in 2009 and has a very loyal customer base in Brisbane, Australia. Nicola regularly instructs vet nursing staff on how to run puppy schools, understand basics of dog behaviour and how to manage in a clinical situation. Nicola’s passion is to work with Mums out there with young children on how to care for their dogs and teach them how to control and manage their dogs in a family environment and overall be more confident with them. More can be found at www.thedogblog.com.au