We’ve put together some brain games and enrichment ideas for dogs during the coronavirus lockdown period to help keep your dogs happy.
Enrichment is described as giving animals’ mental stimulation that allows them to perform natural behaviours, permits them to be more active and increases the control over their environment. Enrichment helps satisfy both the physical and psychological needs of animals and allows them to make choices and encourages them to use their brain to solve puzzles and problems. This can increase their overall happiness and satisfaction, whilst reducing boredom, anxiety and physical and psychological energy.
How to use a Snuffle Mat
You may have heard of a ‘snuffle mat’ for dogs- it is a mat made from strands of soft material woven together to form lots of nooks and crannies, which you can put kibble in and it will take dogs much longer to find all the pieces as they have to use their nose to snuffle out.
Intense sniffing in dogs’ has been shown to lower heart rate and reduce cortisol secretion (the stress hormone). Perfect for keeping your dog busy for 10 minutes whilst satisfying their natural requirement to forage for their food.
Don’t have a snuffle matt? Improvise!
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- If it’s dry outside and you have access to an enclosed garden, simply scatter treats in the grass!
- Put some treats into the laundry basket with some old clothes.
- Roll up a towel with treats hidden throughout.
Always ensure you make it easy to begin with so your dog doesn’t get bored or frustrated. You can do this by helping point the treats out if they are struggling and don’t bury them too deep! Once they get the hang of it start making it more difficult.
Or make your own DIY snuffle mat!
This can keep you busy, and can be a fun and rewarding task to complete during the isolation period.
You will need:
- Some old clothes or a throw
- Sharp scissors
- Rubber doormat or shower mat with holes
Cut the material into 5cm strands and thread them through the holes tying the knot underneath the matt so the strands stick upwards. The longer the strands, the harder it will be for your dog to snuffle out!
See all of our good ideas for lockdown here.