Environmental enrichment is the cornerstone of many behaviour modification programs. Put simply, it involves manipulating your dogs environment so that he is encouraged to show behaviours that you find acceptable rather than those that you find unacceptable. We have included a range of ideas to enrich your dogs environment. Choose from our ideas the ones that you think will work for you and your dog. Remember too that change takes persistence and patience.
Physical exercise is a simple way to increase the interest in your dogs life. Most dogs benefit from daily walks. Working breeds such as border collies and kelpies often need two walks daily to provide them with sufficient interest. Ideally walks should consist of some on-lead and some off-lead sniffing and exploring time. Dogs that cannot be walked off-lead can benefit from a long line which allows them to safely sniff and explore. People often comment that they dont walk their dog because they have a large back yard. From a dogs point of view, being in a back yard that you know every inch of simply doesnt compare with exploring new territories with different smells and perhaps other dogs. You may be interested to download the knox city off leash area brochure. http://www.knox.vic.gov.au
If your dog is difficult to lead then walking can become a chore. Talk to us about using a head collar or special harness which can make it much easier to take your dog out.
If walking is difficult for you, consider going to a secure local oval and hitting a ball with a tennis racket.
If your dog is comfortable in the water then swimming can also be good exercise. There are many beaches now where dogs are permitted see http://www.bayside.vic.gov.au/animals_dogs_off_leash_areas.htmBrighton has one of the best fenced, off leash, dog beaches. It is located between Sandown Street and Bay Street. Dogs in Motion offer a heated indoor pool and a underwater treadmill in Doveton. They will happily guide you and your dog through your first swim. See their website for more details www.dogsinmotion.com.au. If you are looking for a dog friendly park, beach or even a holiday destination for yourself and your pet have a look at www.doggo.com.au Australia wide directory.
Your dog's best toy is you. Unfortunately you cant always be there so toys that make him work or think are great to keep him amused. Try toys such as the rubber KONG. Dogs can learn to play with kongs by themselves. Kongs can also be stuffed with different foods to provide interest throughout the day. Visit www.kongcompany.com for stuffing suggestions. Make sure that you stuff the kong tightly so that the food is difficult to remove. Using moistened dry food in the kong and then freezing it can be good. Peanut butter is also useful to hold things together. A well stuffed kong can keep a dog occupied for hours. For dogs that require lots of distraction, we recommend feeding the dog all of its food in kongs.
Other toys to investigate are treat balls such as the buster cube (deliver food as the dog rotates the cube), boomer balls (hard soccer ball), home alone balls (dog pulls rope and food falls from above), plastic soft drink containers, cardboard cylinders and balls hanging from trees.
Bones, pigs ears, rawhide chews and the like can also be good things to keep your dog amused.
The way that you present toys to your dog is important. If the same toys are available all of the time then boredom sets in. It is best to rotate the toys on a daily basis. When the toys are not in use, hide them away so that your dog cant play with them. That way they will be very special when they reappear. About 5 minutes before you leave the house, you can show your dog the toy(s) for the day. Dont give him the toy until you actually leave.
Mental stimulation in the form of basic obedience is important for your dog. Practising a few exercises and even learning a few new tricks can keep him amused. It also helps to reinforce your role as the leader. Work can be fun! Using food as a reward is an extremely effective way of encouraging your dog to work and enjoy it. Praise and playing with special toys can also be used as rewards.
Enriching your dogs environment will help keep him contented by giving him the opportunity to direct his energies in a positive manner.
Kong stuffing suggestions www.kongcompany.com
Have a look at these sturdy toys www.aussiedogs.com.au
Concider K9 agility or flyball for your dog www.k9agility.org.au www.flyball.org.au