Category "Canine Enrichment"

21May2019

The purpose of food is to supply nutrients to the body and brain to support cellular health and regeneration.  The process of digestion and the things that are digested will effect behaviour with dogs as well as people.  As with people, the best diet for dogs is a diet of fresh, unprocessed food.  This is difficult for most people to manage on a daily basis, but there is a good compromise; a dog quality dog food, replacing the dog food in some meals with human food.

Dog food

The dog food industry is huge.  As with human food the quality and ingredients vary greatly.  I don’t know enough about dog nutrition to be able to make a really informed decision on what constitutes a good quality dog food, so I refer to a great website, allaboutdogfood.co.uk if I need an idea of how good a certain brand of dog food is.  At its simplest, it’ll rate the food out of 5.  You’d be surprised at how poorly some of the well known brands are rated, and if you’re feeding supermarket own brand then, don’t!  Personally I wouldn’t feed anything less than 3.5/5.

The dog food ingredients are listed in order of weight.

Ideally the food should be 65-80% animal.  Avoid the term ‘animal by products’ — this could be any part of any animal!  If your dog is reactive, minimise the amount of red meat in his diet.

There’s no evidence to suggest that you should stick to one type of dog food, or to wean a dog off one food before changing to a different one.

Human Food

Dogs love human food!  Historically dogs would have been fed the humans’ leftovers and scraps.  There are certain foods that you should avoid feeding your dog, but other than that, feeding your dog fresh, unprocessed food not only reduces the chances of your dog developing cancer by up to 90%, but it gives the dog variety, rather them having to eat the same exact thing, day in, day out, even if it is good quality dog food.

Using muffin tins will help slow the rate of eating and will allow you to try small portions of different things to see what they like and what they don’t.  Pups are more likely to try anything and everything than an older dog that hasn’t tried a particular food before.

This meal consisted of a little bit of Eden’s kibble (dog biscuit) in mushroom juice and mushroom starter.  The main course was chicken, roast veg and noodles.  Dessert, or ‘afters’ as it’s known here in Wales, was mashed banana and Greek yoghurt, melon balls and Greek yoghurt, and pumpkin puree.

A word of caution; I wouldn’t normally feed my dogs in this close a proximity.  If you have multiple dogs, they’re best given lots of space, or better still being fed it separate rooms.

9Jan2019

I know, weird name!

What is a flirt pole?

A flirt pole is essentially a telescopic pole with a bungee on the end with a tug toy attached.

What does a flirt pole do?

  • You can use it to teach your dog to drop items
  • It’s brilliant for helping dogs with their impulse control
  • It’s great for mental stimulation
  • It’s particularly good for exercising your dog in small spaces.

How do you use a flirt pole?

Make the tug toy on the end of the flirt pole act like a small furry animal by dragging it along the floor and encourage the dog to chase it.  Remember to keep the tug toy close to the floor for young dogs.  Allow the dog to catch it.  Say ‘drop’, with a treat under the dogs nose; if he wants the treat he’ll have to release the tug toy, so this is a great way to teach ‘drop’.  If your dog doesn’t drop the toy, don’t turn it into a wrestling game, this will only encourage the dog to hold onto the toy.  Instead, make the toy as boring as possible.  Your dog will learn quite quickly that the game can’t recommence if the tug toy is in his mouth.

Once the dog is engaged in the game, you can start on impulse control.  Each time your dog gets too close to the tug toy, flip the toy 180 degrees away from him.  Quite soon he should learn that by getting too close, he’s driving the toy away, and he’ll start to hesitate.  This is great, he’s demonstrating impulse control!  You can now put a command – ‘get it!’ to release him to play the game again.  To begin with, don’t make the game too hard; let the dog catch the tug toy quite quickly, but only if you’ve released him with ‘get it!’.  Once the dog is really enjoying the game you can make it progressively harder to catch the toy.

When you’ve finished the game, let your dog know by saying something like ‘over’ or ‘enough’.  You can use this with other games to let him know that play time is over for now.

 

29Nov2018

More doggy tapas.  Today’s meal consisted of

  • Banana
  • Eden’s dog food with homemade stock
  • Cucumber
  • Banana & yoghurt
  • Pumpkin puree
  • Salmon fishcake with spinach
  • Melon & pineapple
  • Eden’s dog food with homemade stock
  • Cucumber
  • Humus

Feeding your dog fresh unprocessed food on a regular basis decreases the risk of cancer by up to 90% and adds variety to your dog’s diet.  Be creative, try foods that your dog hasn’t had before as well as ones that you know he likes.  Just be sure to avoid certain foods that can be toxic to dogs.

So, was everything eaten?  Both left the cucumber, so it went into my husband’s cucumber and humus sandwiches for the following day.  Waste not, want not.   😆

 

17Nov2018

Dog tapas; strawberry, carrot, mango & Greek yoghurt, broccoli omelette, sweet potato, steamed broccoli, rice, banana, apple, pumpkin, cheese, omelette scrapings.

Try substituting one portion of your dog’s food with fresh, unprocessed food, every other day.  Not only will this we more interesting for your dog, but adding fresh greens to your dog’s diet has been found to decrease the risk of cancer by up to 90%.  Be sure to avoid food that is not recommended for dogs.

Make sure that you’re feeding your dog a decent food.  allaboutdogfood.co.uk is an excellent resource where you can check the ingredients and rating of your current food.  It also has a wizard where you can enter details about your dog and your daily budget and it’ll suggest a suitable dog food.

9Sep2018

Dogs love to sniff and it’s incredibly good for them.

Here comes the science…

According to the most recent research, mammalian brains have 7 emotional systems, SEEKING being one.  Sniffing activates the dog’s SEEKING emotional system.

SEEKING is “the basic impulse to search, investigate, and make sense of the environment” and promotes

  • curiosity
  • anticipation
  • looking forward to good things  

SEEKING is a very pleasurable emotion.  It releases feel-good chemicals; endorphin, oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine, which, amongst other things, promote optimism.

The SEEKING system is the system that helps animals anticipate all types of rewards.  

The SEEKING system is incompatible with other emotional systems such as RAGE and FEAR, although the emotional state can change very, very quickly.

The SEEKING system is activated in children at Christmas time; anticipating all the presents they’re going to get.  The anticipation of Christmas is often more pleasurable than the presents themselves, just like sniffing out food can be more rewarding for dogs than eating the food.

Here are some games and activities to activate the SEEKING emotional system:

  • ‘Bimble’ walks
  • Scent work
  • Scatter feeding
  • Hide and seek
  • Treasure hunt
  • Training
5Mar2018

I use lots of treats during training.  I don’t use shop bought treats as that would end up being pretty expensive and I’m not sure how healthy a lot of them are.

I dry meat.  It’s reasonably easy.  It’s pretty cheap.  Dried meat is easy to handle and doesn’t get your fingers smelly and greasy.

Good meats to dry are pig’s liver, chicken and beef.  Not so much pork or ham as it has a higher fat content and doesn’t always dry well and lamb’s liver, as well has being more expensive than pig’s liver, is more crumbly when dried.

I then put the meat in the freezer, just so that it can start to solidify as this makes it easier to slice.  Once the meat starts to solidify, take it out of the freezer and cut it into thin slices.  Put the sliced meat in the oven.  Meat has to be cooked at at least 70 degrees centigrade.  I usually cook it at 80 degrees.   Check the meat every hour and once it’s about half dry, take the meat out of the oven and cut it into long strips.  Put it back in the oven and bake until it’s dried right the way through.

I break some garlic cloves and keep the meat and the garlic cloves in a ziplock bag.  This might be a bit controversial as garlic is poisonous to dogs, but garlic is ok in moderation and my dogs love it, but you can leave it out if you want.

The treats will keep for ages if fully dried.

Break the strips of meat into very small pieces when needed.

Don’t forget to take into account any treats your dog has had when considering their daily food allowance.

4Mar2018

These balls came from Tesco, but Pets at Home do a rubber ball with holes in it which is probably better.  I cut some strips of felt, folded some liver treats into the felt, loosely knotted the felt and put the felt into the middle of the ball, making sure to leave a bit of felt hanging out.  Dyfri’s good at these games and worked out quickly that she needed to pull on the felt to get the treats.  Celyn got the treats out, but I think it was more luck than judgement.

 

28Feb2018

I can’t take credit for inventing this, I saw it on Facebook.  The bottle was out in the garden, hanging from a washing line, but the only part of my garden that’s enclosed is where the dogs go to toilet and I don’t have a washing line, so I improvised.

I cut a small hole in the bottom of a 2 litre plastic bottle, put some kibble in it and suspended it from the staircase.

This is quite hard, but Dyfri’s a bit of a pro at these kind of things.  See the videos below.  The first attempt was with a bit of kibble, the second was with some frozen chicken treats.

The only down side is that Celyn also gets very excited at Dyfri’s attempts and barks the place down.

Patiently waiting for ‘hanging bottle’ to be recharged! 

30Jan2018

Another of my dog’s favourites. Snuffle mats are made from rubber mats with strips of fleece. You sprinkle treats or kibble in between the strips of fleece. It takes my dogs about 20 minutes to eat their food from a snuffle mat, as opposed to about 30 seconds from a bowl, and then they swap to make sure that nobody has missed anything and get about another 10 minutes enjoyment.

30Jan2018

The towel game is another really easy way to entertain your dog. Get a tea towel, place treats or kibble on the towel, roll the towel up (leaving some treats visible the first few times you do it), give the towel to the dog.

Dizzy, the dog in the video, had lost the use of his back legs, so this was a great game for him; his brain had to work out how to get the treats, but his body didn’t need to move much.

This is also a really good way to introduce a new baby (human or fur) even before it comes into the  household.  It’s not the only thing that you should do though, get in touch for help.  Get a clean tea towel, rub the towel over the new addition (human-baby or fur-baby), bring the towel home, roll treats inside the towel and let the dog explore.  Sniffing releases the feel-good chemicals; oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine, so your dog is bonding with the new addition, even though the new addition is not present.