Hi Everypawdy! My name is Tiffany and this is my 1-year old, English Cream Golden Retriever, Maple! Maple is the best pup—goofy, loveable, happy, and always excited/energetic. She has brought so much happiness and enrichment into my life that she deserves to have the same for herself.
As humans, we have access to a plethora of enrichment: reading a book, watching a movie, driving a car, etc. Our pups on the other hand, depend on us for that enrichment. According to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, animal enrichment “allows animals to demonstrate their species-typical behavior, gives them opportunity to exercise control or choice over their environment and enhances their well-being.” Below I have mentioned some of the ways I provide Maple enrichment.
Lick Mat (Lickimat)
Maple has been using a lick mat since she was 10 weeks old! I first used it as a reward for sleep training in her crate and to introduce new foods to her. Lick mats help stimulate licking, create enrichment for your pup, and help with oral health as well! They’re also super fun because they allow us pup parents to get creative with them. For example, for Fourth of July, I made Maple one that resembled the United States flag. Made out of blueberries, watermelon, and plain Greek yogurt, Maple thought it was 10/10 DELISH! Bonus: if you freeze your lick mat before-hand, they last even longer for your pup!
Toppl (West Paw)
The Toppl is our most recent discovery and my-oh-my, MAPLE LOVES THIS THING!!! Typically I give it to her when I’m going to be in a meeting that will last longer than 30 minutes, or if I’m going to be out for longer than 2 hours. I like to do different layers while filling her Toppl; I plug the small opening with a malleable treat or strawberry, put high-value treats on the bottom (FTP chips are perfect for it!!), cover them in a mixture of water and plain Greek yogurt and freeze. Occasionally I’ll add blueberries, sliced apples or other treats on top of the yogurt and water mixture. It typically takes Maple 40-60 minutes to lick it clean and the best part—the Toppl is dishwasher safe!
Puzzles (Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Dog Treat Puzzle)
Puzzles are such a fun and interactive enrichment toy for your pup. There are so many different kinds with all different difficulty levels. One of our favorites are Hide n’ Slide puzzles. Not only does it provide enrichment, but it also adds nose work into the mix. Nose work is important for your pup because it helps pups determine sources of scents better. Snuffle mats are also a great source of nose work too!
Blanket with Treats
An easy DIY at-home enrichment activity is simply rolling up an old blanket or towel with treats. This encourages nose work and it’s a fun game for your pup. For an extra challenge, try knotting up the blanket/towel. This was a HIT in our household and is perfect for a rainy day activity!
Treat you clever canines next week!