We know so much more now about what dogs need to live fully involved lives, one of the most exciting areas to reach popularity recently among dog owners is what’s called environmental enrichment.
You might think of environmental enrichment from Zoos, as you walk around any modern zoo you will see all kinds of items placed in and around the habitats to give the animals a chance to use their natural, species specific behaviors. If you’ve not noticed this, try pausing a few moments longer at each exhibit and scan the enclosure carefully. I once noticed a carrot placed every few feet along a very high fence in our local zoo’s elephant enclosure, another time some boxes placed around a parrot aviary.
Searching for, and finding food is a very basic form of enriching an animal’s environment and dogs now benefitting from this knowledge.
While there are many ways to give dogs and opportunity to search out their food, one of the most basic is stuffing specially made toys, like Kongs and the less well known Squirrel Dude.
I love Squirrel Dudes! We have plenty of Kongs too and this recipe works great with either a Kong or a Squirrel Dude, or any similar toy.
This is our “basic” stuffing for this type of toy, but don’t stop with this recipe, try your own or explore the HUGE variety of recipes and ideas to be found on the internet.
What you’ll need:
- Kong or Squirrel Dude
- Dry Kibble (your dogs regular food, I’m using Fromm Gold Adult.
- Dry Kibble (NOT your dogs regular food, I’m using some Royal Canin I found on sale) for excitement value and optional.
- Funnel (I make one from a small bottle of soda)
- Small amount of cream cheese or peanut butter.
- Cooked meat or egg (for excitement value)
You can manipulate the ratio anyway your dog likes. My dogs love their kibble and would enjoy this filling even if it was just their regular kibble, Fromm Gold Adult. But I mix about half of that with something special, often this is some kibble from a different company, something high quality. You can also use meat, as I often do, either cooked meat like beef, chicken, or pork, or occasionally canned fish. I also often use a hard boiled egg or two. Of course you could also purée some veggies into this mixture, puréed veggies do not need to be cooked for this recipe.
Plug the small hole on the bottom of the kong with cream cheese or peanut butter. Fill the bottom half of the toy with DRY kibble, this will make the toy MUCH easier to clean later!
Purée your ingredients in your chosen ratio in the blender, with warm water, until it’s a rather thin pourable consistency. The kibble will firm up FAST, so be ready to pour into all your toys as soon as you are done blending. If the mixture does firm up just add more water.
I use stuffed kongs/squirrel dudes as pacifiers! Here are my favorite times to pacify my dogs.
1. When company arrives.
2. At training class or in the car.
3. On rainy, hot, or snowy days.
4. When I’ve work to do!
5. Any time as part of any meal. My dogs LOVE them!
I hope you will provide your dog with a wide variety of pacifiers and teach him or her to make good use of them.
Most dogs don’t lead the most exciting lives, but we can make their lives much more satisfying with just a little effort.