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Enrich Yo' Self! (& your Dog & Cat)

Updated: Mar 20, 2020

As much as we’d all love to spend endless hours engaging and playing with our pups, sometimes you have pesky things to do like “work” and “leave the house”.

Engaging your pet with activities and toys while you’re away reduces their (& subsequently your) stress levels, increases activity & exercise, and can prevent unwanted behaviors that result from boredom. Because they can always find SOMETHING to chew on, and it’s nicer for everyone if it’s not your favorite [insert beloved item here].





There’s no such thing as a free lunch:

Make mealtime a challenge by using puzzle bowls & treat-dispensing toys- or better yet, a combination of both! This has the added benefit of preventing your pup from scarfing too quickly and (literally) inhaling their food.


Chew on this:

Anyone who has had a puppy knows that having appropriate things for them to chew is essential. Adult dogs can also benefit from appropriate items to chew on, and the mechanical action can be beneficial for oral health as well.

Kongs: These are great because there are endless possibilities as to what they can be filled with, and the material is tough enough to withstand repeated biting while also being soft enough not to break teeth. Try freezing dog-friendly broth inside (low sodium, no garlic or onions) for hours of engagement.

*{Honest Kitchen makes dog/cat specific broths that you can purchase}


Better than a Butt:

We all know the first thing a dog does when it meets a new friend. Sense of smell is a powerful driver for canines, and a great way to enrich your canine companion’s daily activities. Using novel scents on abandoned toys and beds can help re-engage your pet and keep them interested. You can even use commercially-available synthetic animal scents and have your pup track & locate specific toys based on smell. And leaving a pet with a blanket or pillow that has your scent can be great to keep them calm while you’re away.


All I do is Work, Work, Work No Matter What:

What is the one thing your dog loves most (aside from you)? Use that singular focus to help train helpful behaviors and keep them out of trouble. Do they love walks? Make them sit and stay before you put the leash on. Hungry? Same thing for treats or their meals. You can even use your attention as a reward by giving praise for desired behaviors and requiring a sit & stay prior to petting and engagement sessions.




Let's Talk about Cats:



Let loose the tiger within!

Housecats may be smaller, but that small package contains all the instincts of a wildcat. Instead of letting those natural predatory drives become an issue (like when your toes become the prey), utilize them as a source of stimulation & enrichment that prevents boredom and increases activity levels. Laser pointers, feather dancers, and other toys that mimic prey provide active engagement and help satisfy that drive to KILL.


Make them work for it!

Cats have instinctual hunting & foraging behaviors that eating out of a dish just can’t satisfy. Instead, divide & hide their daily meals in various locations and make them work to find it. You can use food-dispensing toys such as the Egg-Cersizer, or even household items like newspaper and paper towel rolls to hide meals in. It will increase their activity levels and keep them stimulated while they “hunt” for their food.

Products like Petcube that dispense treats or food engage the entire sequence of predation behavior: stalk, chase, catch, and consume. It’s a great way to keep your pet engaged & active.


Variety is the spice of [Life? Scratching surfaces? All of the Above?]:

Sharpening those claws helps promote healthy nailbeds and is an ingrained visual and scent marking instinct for your cat. Providing both horizontal & vertical scratching materials will help prevent your couch from becoming the next scratching post.


Fountains:

Getting your cat to drink enough water can be tough, and one of the most common diseases in older cats is kidney disease. Using running water sources like cat fountains both encourages hydration and increases the sensory engagement of drinking by stimulating with sound and movement.


Get your cat high:

a.k.a., variety is the spice of [Life? Scratching surfaces? All of the Above?]

And first off, no, not like that. Cats like to observe from above. Providing a variety of perches for cat-napping in the sun and observing birds and wildlife by a window can keep your feline content and stress-free. It also provides a valuable place of escape from dogs or small children in the household. Products like the cat scratch lounge provide both a scratchable surface and a place to hide & perch all at once. And Catastrophic creations makes great ornamental perches & scratching materials for your feline friend.


 

Fun enrichment products to try with your pets:


KittONS:

  • Doc & Phoebe's Interactive Indoor Hunting Cat Feeder

  • -PetSafe Interactive Toy and Food Dispenser

  • -KONG Cat Wobbler, Treat Dispensing Toy

  • -Catit Senses 2.0 Digger for Cats

  • -Catit Senses 2.0 Circuit

  • Snufflematt

  • 'One Fast Cat' kitty treadmill (for only the most intrepid of felines)

  • foodpuzzlesforcats.com


Puppers:

  • Zogoflex Interactive Treat Dispensing Toy

  • KONG Wobbler Treat Dispensing Dog Toy

  • Idepet Dog Toy Ball

  • Treat Dispensing Boredom Interactive Game Puzzle

  • Automatic Pet Feeder - SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder

  • Arf Pets Automatic Pet Feeder Food Dispenser

  • Hyper Pet Lickimatt

  • Snufflematt

  • Outward Hound Fun Feeder

  • Outward Hound Fun Mat


Aaaaand some Anxiety Relief:

(we could all use a little of that, right?):

  • Pet Remedy spray/diffusers

  • Zylkene

  • Thundershirts

  • Lavender oil

  • Veterinary Calm diets (contain tryptophan & alpha-casozepine)

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