Enrichment has become a bit of a buzzword in the dog training community but the ideas behind it are equally important for cats. Providing an enriching environment doesn't have to be complicated or expensive; just a few of even the smallest, simple additions or changes to routines and provisions reduce can move mountains when it comes to reducing boredom, boosting confidence, enabling bonding and training opportunities and promoting wellbeing through a healthy, stimulating and satisfying lifestyle.
Every activity, equipment and foods you offer your pets shape their lifestyle in some way. Choosing high quality foods and treats, maintaining good healthcare, and offering secure and comforting areas within the home all provide a strong base from which there can be endless opportunities for enrichment to build upon and offer the best possible quality of life for your cats and dogs.
At One Green Spot we don't like to see the word 'enrichment' sub divided into different areas as we know, just like people, that all experiences combine to make a whole (dog, cat, person, environment) picture. Training for example, encompasses all areas of enrichment and all key components of your pet's life will contribute to the results achieved. Feeling secure, safe and comfortable, having choice and perceived freedom are all major contributors to a person's happiness and it's no different for animals! Being mindful of this and making researched, conscious and creative choices about when, where and how we interact with our pets and the provision we offer them is not only hugely beneficial to the animal, but also to your bond, their bonds with each other and your overall enjoyment of life together.
Try to think about their natural needs and behaviours, individual preferences and suitability within your own lifestyle to begin to think about how you can develop an enriching environment. Stimulate their senses through thoughtful choice of toys or enhancements. Think about smells, sounds and textures to offer inviting play and don't for get to interact ( King Catnip Play Bubbles have to be our favourite for cats and the Beco Rough & Tough Squeaky Starfish is a massive hit with the dogs in our house!).
For easy, effective and fun interaction all ages can be involved with, we LOVE the Calm Dog Games handy deck of cards specially designed to help make training fun and simple for dogs of any age. Owners can choose an theme of play and select a card with easy to follow instructions for games and activities suitable for any time, weather or training level for stress-free fun and bonding.
The use of slow feeders such as LickiMat® (we have a good selection coming in the next few days for both dogs and cats!) or snuffle mats (ours are handmade in the UK using recycled clothing!) for both dogs and cats are a great tool for calming, soothing and slowing down those who like to inhale their food! Licking releases endorphines to aid relaxation and natural foraging instincts can be easily satisfied by hiding a few treats or even a whole meal within the textures of a snuffle mat. Or for a DIY version, try making 'food hunts'! Hide treats (or a portion of their daily food allowance if monitoring weight closely) around the house and garden for them to seek and find. This is a fantastic 'game' for a food orientated pet offering encouragement of natural instincts along with physical and mental stimulation.
In future blogs we'll add some great links for homemade recipes, games and activities. The list of possibilities to enhance your dog or cat's lifestyle and provide truly enriching experiences is endless! Just remember they key, simple goal behind the idea of enriching environments - making life better!
Check out our Extra Enrichment collection for more ideas for creative play and boredom busting for cats and dogs.