Play and enrichment are all important in our lives and our dogs live’s. However, it doesn’t have to be done at the double and full on racing about. For some dogs, high energy enrichment is too much, even a race about the field and can result in a dog pinging off the walls for the rest of the day.
Much has to do with trigger stacking through the day and living on a high Flee, flight and fight hormone on a daily basis.
We love to see dogs running about having fun but not at the expense of their health and wellbeing. Exercise invariably exhausts a dog physically (some dogs but certainly not at all dependant on chemical imbalances and personality) Ideally we’d like to help a dog to be thoughtful and gain self-control. Dogs will run about in hot and cold weather, the hot weather being the most dangerous physically. Dogs overheat in a nanosecond and overheating arises when taking your dog for a whizz about when it’s warm and they are hyper through high cortisol levels, they cannot listen to their bodies.
Panting dogs need to stop and they can’t. Either panting is due to over-excitement ( adrenaline and cortisol) or overheating. Please don’t get me wrong, full on fun is great if they can come down to calm soon afterwards, its when they can’t come down from the rush that causes issues.
A calm dog is good, a calm dog is happy, a calm dog is healthy.
We can overdo enrichment as well as under do enrichment. If you have to occupy your dog 27/7 for a quiet life, they have no ability to rest and recuperate and do what should come naturally.
A dog should be able to rest and sleep when all around him is busy.
A balanced dog will come and join the activity, whether that be a cuddle, a massage, a play, a walk, feeding, when asked and rest other times.
Low impact games that make your dog think rather than react, such as finding a toy in long grass or behind a plant pot for example. Something you have previously hidden or hidden when your dog wasn’t watching. These games you work as a team, walking back towards the hidden find using a trigger word like “ Where” or absolutely anything you like as long as it’s always the same. He’s using his nose and you’re there as an initial guide. Teamwork is thoughtful work. He finds the toy, you run away and beckon him, he brings it back and you can swap for a Natural food reward. Rest between finds, sit and watch the beauty about you. Relaxing in these places is as important for you and our dog as walking, sniffing and playing.
On a walk.
1) Get to a destination with minimal sniffing and marking. It’s not a territory walk it’s a necessity to get to play place, off lead or long lead fun.
2) Sniffing rather than walking is great for a dog and gives us time to take still time, all important in our busy world.
3) Play find a toy or two
4) Sit and massage or just be with your dog
5) Mixing everything up keeps your dog balanced in mind and body
6) Walk them away from the interaction that until it’s happened you don’t know if it will end up in a confrontation
7) Stick with a couple of great balanced doggy pals from your dog. He certainly doesn’t need to make new friends every day of his life.
8) We have a few friends and we like them because they enrich our lives, some don’t and we walk away. You need to know that the same goes for your dog in essence.
Go for a run
Great for both you and your dog.
Sniffing and snuffling
Finding out about the world around them, their noses are prenominal and it’s good to let them use them. If you can also do this in is less doggy areas, so they can spend time sniffing without checking on the possible competition. Far more relaxing sniffing out new scents in new places. Finding out about who, when and where is really important to them.
I love this fascinating article by Stanley Coren about why dogs sniff in embarrassing places for us, but in the world of doing its very natural, however unacceptable to us, A simple guide away when this happens to a human will sort the issue !!
It’s also important to every now and again to call your dog from rest to give him a thoughtful mind game. Such as;
1) A bun tin with small portions of his raw food stuffed into the bun pockets.
2) Snuffle matt sprinkled with Bella and Duke dried natural treats
3) Coconut oil or Bone broth frozen into or onto a ridged tin.
4) Puzzles filled with raw food, where the dog has to work out how to get inside.
By Caroline Spencer