Puppy loves to chew up carpet. He doesn’t get to eat the rug in the living room. So I got him one of his own to destroy. He got to keep it for the weekend & until today. This one made a big mess. Jazer had a ball until his daddy threw his rug away today. But look what fun Jazer had.This is the same concept of giving a dog one area of the yard for approved digging to prevent them from digging up the whole yard. Or for teaching your dog to potty in one section instead of all over the yard. Doing this allows your dog to take care of their actual "doggie" needs and in no way teaches them that it's OK to do this to all rugs. If we want our dogs to be successful in our "people world" we have to take care of their basic canine needs as well!
Saturday, February 19, 2022
In the post titled, "What is Enriching for Your Dog?" I discussed specific criteria that all enrichment activities should impact. In this post, I'm going to specifically talk about 3 of those criteria.
Jumping on People and/or Furniture
Additional "Bad" Behaviors
Thursday, February 17, 2022
Wednesday, February 16, 2022
How can you fit enrichment activities into your daily schedule?
Somewhere in the afternoon we try to either set up a playdate and/or training session with a client, On days that we don't see a client, we try to do a trail walk to practice leash skills. This winter finding activities that can be done indoors has been a must with some pretty frigid temps. I always keep a list of "indoor activities" that can also be done during this time. This can be anything from Find It Games to Skills practice. (Physical and Mental Enrichment - average 1-2 hrs)
Monday, February 14, 2022
With my disability, it's very likely that in the future I will struggle with being able to walk as I do now. Some days are a struggle now, but Azul is task trained to mitigate my mobility issues as they currently are. I want to make sure we train for that possibility so Azul is prepared.
In this video, Azul and I are just getting started and he needs to figure out where a heel position is, where to stand and wait at the end of aisles, and how to turn corners without getting under the wheels. It helps that Azul knows cues to turn left/right so I can give him a heads up before we turn the corner. And he's used to waiting at the corner, but we need to stop slightly further back then normal to be able to avoid sudden collisions. Plus this cart basically has 2 speeds, a slow creeper speed and full speed which is slightly slower then the speed we normally walk. Azul has to make adjustments for this as well.
This video demonstrates Azul and I working together to figure out his best position in relation to the chair based on what I need to do. We demonstrate heel, follow (walk behind me) turn, and backing up. Then we practice paws up, stepping over the chair floor and going around.
It's important for young Service Dogs to practice this type of thing to be prepared for the future possibilities. When Azul was a young pup, we practiced remaining calm as other people moved passed us in motorized carts. At first we watched them from a distance, but slowly decreased the distance until we were walking right passed them as they moved in the opposite direction. We've practiced walking behind & beside motorized carts. The only time Azul has been with me riding a cart was for a very short ride when he was about 16 months old as we delivered one to my sister because she couldn't walk the distance to where they were parked. Azul did very well with that, or I probably would have practiced more before now. My goal is to practice about 2-3 times a year so that Azul can stay prepared should I ever need to use a cart or wheelchair for real.
Just like reinforcement, enrichment is something that our dogs have to chose. Not all dogs find the same things enriching. But how can we know what our dogs find most enriching?
First lets figure out what the difference is between reinforcement and enrichment. Reinforcement is going to be our topic for next week so we will dive into that more later. As dog owners, we use reinforcement to reward our dogs for the behaviors we like. Enrichment is not meant to be a reward but more of a way to meet our dog's natural instinct needs from day to day. Behavior Consultants from around the world have pretty much agreed that enrichment activities should into these criteria.
- be an activity that has interaction between the participants.
- effect the response a dog has to a particular action.
- lead to evidence based, behavior changes.
- be changing constantly.
- differ from dog to dog based on their needs.
- reliant on the evolution of learning experiences of the dog and human.
The importance of participating together in enrichment activities.
Enrichment can and should effect responses to activity and changes in behavior.
Enrichment should change regularly.
Enrichment driven by breed traits.
Emotions can impact our dog's enrichment needs.
Sunday, February 13, 2022
Every person on the planet can pretty much agree that all animals, including people, need a minimum of food, shelter, and clothing (safety gear for dogs). But is that enough to make an animal's life enriching and have value? In this post we are going to be going over some other things that greatly affect the quality of life we provide for our dogs.
Ditch the Bowl & Other Food Based Enrichment
Since food is one of the most basic needs, it's also one of the most basic enrichment activities that trainers recommend for their clients. With a quick search on Google, YouTube, or Amazon you can get all kinds of great food based enrichment ideas that you can use with your dogs. With all those resources readily available, I'm going to tell you about a few that my dogs love.
The Snuffle Box
Take a cardboard box and put 3-5 items from your recycle bin or around the house that are safe to be touched, mouthed, or chewed by your dog; plastic water bottles or bowls, rolled up newspaper balls, dog toys, basically anything that can get in the way but your dog can easily move around with their nose. To get started, drop a few treats in the box and tell your dog to Find It or Search. Once your dog gets the hang of the game, you can switch from using treats to using a portion or all of your dog's meal in the box.
There are also snuffle toys like mats and balls you can buy just about anywhere that sells pet supplies. Nature is also a great place to sniff out food, so you can drop a handful of kibble in the yard for the dog to search through the grass for the food. Azul started doing this as a young pup where we spent the after meal sitting in the front yard daily if weather permitted. Still at almost 2 years old, he enjoys at least one meal a week sprinkled around somewhere outside.
The act of seeking is a natural instinct that all dogs are born with. Certain breeds that were bred for nosework or hunting have an extra need to develop the seeking instinct in greater detail. By teaching them how to forage for their meals and providing lots of opportunity to do that, we can often prevent some of the less desired behaviors of following a scent trail or seeking other forms of self entertainment.
Lickmats or stuffed toys
This is something that Cam has never really enjoyed, but he was punished in a former home for excessive licking of people so that likely has something to do with it. Every other dog that I've tried out a lickmat with has found it extremely rewarding! When Azul was just a baby, I used to spread some peanut butter inside a hollow toy or bone that he could easily fit is nose in to provide a calming activity before his afternoon nap time. A stuffed kong or similar toy can be awesome for helping a young pup get used to a crate as well. And now that Azul is older, he still wants to eat at least one meal a week on his lickmat, although the recipes we use now are much more complex.
The act of licking is a natural stress reliever so if your dog has something unexpected in their day, providing an extra opportunity for licking can help help turn that negative experience into a positive experience.
Using kibble for training
This is where the idea of "Ditch the Bowl" comes in, suggesting that you hand feed your dog during training sessions and enrichment feeders instead of a dog bowl. This is great, but I simply don't have this much time in my day in a multiple dog household. Instead I use a wide variety of feeding methods using a bowl for one of 2 meals a day and using alternative methods for the other meal. It's more important that you find a feeding schedule that works for you and your dog, than it is to try to follow someone else's schedule.
The act of training by itself is often enrichment for our dogs! If we tailor our training to incorporate concept style training, teaching our dogs life skills instead of solely focusing on getting behaviors, we tend to help their brain develop stronger connections. Activating the brain and putting some of their mental energy to work to solve a problem is very enriching for most dogs.
When many people think about enrichment, this is where they stop as food related enrichment is the easiest to learn to use and apply to daily life. But our dogs have other needs!
Can shelter be enriching?
Clothing or Gear as Enriching
Health & Hygiene that is Enriching
Socially Interactive Enrichment
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