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Food based enrichment for dogs

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

Fun dog enrichment ideas using your pups meal.

Dog being fed

As a dog owner, it's important to keep your furry friend mentally stimulated and engaged in activities that promote their well-being. One way to do this is through interactive food-based enrichment. By providing your dog with food-based puzzles, toys and training you can keep their minds active and their bodies engaged. In this blog, we'll discuss some ways to provide canine enrichment through food.


 

It’s important to note that this doesn't have to mean giving your pup lots of extra treats. All the enrichment ideas below can simply use your dogs daily food allowance that instead of just being put straight in a bowl to be wolfed down in less than a minute, can be used to engage, entertain, occupy and train them - leaving you with a calmer, extra trained and ready for a nap pup!


 


1. Training


Dog using food for training

Using your dog's daily food allowance in training is an excellent way to help your dog develop new skills while also ensuring they maintain a healthy weight. By using their food as a training tool, you're providing them with a reward that is both tasty and fulfilling. Instead of feeding your dog one or two large meals a day, consider breaking their food into smaller portions and using them as treats throughout the day. This could be as simple as asking for sits and lie downs at breakfast and getting a piece of kibble for it, loose leash training where they are rewarded for looking at you and being in the right position or boundary training where their food is gradually dropped onto their bed when they are settled on there so they learn it's a great place to be.



2. Puzzle Feeders


Puzzle feeders are a great way to provide your dog with a challenge and some mental stimulation. These feeders can come in various shapes and sizes, and often involve your dog having to manipulate different parts to get to the food. They can range from very simple where the dog simply has to nudge the toy to get food out of a hole, to very difficult where levers have to be pulled or turned to access the food.



3. Snuffle Mats


Snuffle mats are another great way to provide your dog with mental stimulation. These mats are typically made of fleece or other soft materials and have small pockets throughout where you can hide treats. By foraging through the pockets, your dog will have to use their sense of smell to find the treats, providing them

with a satisfying challenge.




4. Slow Food Dispensing Toys


Food dispensing toys are a great way to keep your dog entertained for longer periods of time. These toys are typically made of durable materials like rubber or plastic and have small openings where you can put kibble or other treats. Your dog will have to manipulate or lick at the toy to get the food to come out, providing them with a fun and interactive experience. These can often be frozen to help it last even longer.





5. Lick mats and bowls


These mats are designed to hold soft or wet foods, such as peanut butter, yogurt, or pureed fruits and vegetables or your dog's normal wet food, that your dog can lick and enjoy. Licking can have a calming effect on dogs, which makes lick mats a great tool for reducing stress and anxiety. When your dog licks the food on the mat, it triggers the release of endorphins, which promote a sense of relaxation and well-being. Some other added benefits are improved dental hygiene as licking promotes saliva production which helps clean teeth and mental stimulation as different types of mats and bows have different shapes in them allowing your dog to explore and search. These are great to use at times when your dog would often be stressed like bath time or fireworks and they both calm and distract.


6. Long lasting chews


Long-lasting chews can come in a variety of forms and can be both natural and man made. Dogs have a natural chewing instinct and buy providing them with a safe long lasting chew you can help prevent unwanted and problem chewing. The chewing action is calming and anxiety relieving for dogs and also promotes healthy teeth. Natural options include ears, antlers, hooves, horns, olive branches and Yak chews. When selecting a long-lasting chew for your dog, it's important to consider their individual size and preferences. Some dogs may prefer softer chews, while others may enjoy the challenge of a tougher chew and always buy the correct size for your dog. Always supervise when you dog has a chew in case small pieces come off.


By incorporating these food-based enrichment activities into your dog's routine, you can help keep them mentally stimulated, calm and engaged. Not only will this provide them with a fun challenge, but it can also help reduce boredom and decrease destructive behavior. So, the next time you're looking for a way to keep your dog entertained, consider trying out one of these fun and engaging activities.


For lots of food based canine enrichment ideas have a look at our shop here!


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