Lesson 2 – Problem-solving

This next exercise won’t be too hard if you completed the Lesson 1 homework assignment and stuck with it for a full five days for consistency. Now let’s create a system where our dog works for their meals. This is an almost magical solution to so many boredom-based challenges with dogs; creating an enriched environment is so critical not only to a dog’s development but to their mental health throughout their lives. 

Dogs love to forage, dig, chase, shake, chew, and lick. Let’s explore the many ways we can do this with the different types of food dogs generally eat (kibble, canned, homecooked, dehydrated, raw): 

For this week’s homework assignment I would like for you to choose at least one way of enriching your dog’s environment during mealtime. For the next few days, use a combination of the following ideas that work for you instead of feeding them from the bowl. Each meal should be an experience

  • Stuffed food toys (Kong, West Paw Design, etc)
  • Puzzle toys (Nina Ottosson, Outward Hound, Kyjen, Kong Wobbler)
  • Sprinkling kibble in a snufflemat and letting them snuffle it out
  • Sprinkling kibble in the grass and letting them snuffle it out
  • Practising training behaviours and using pieces of meals as rewards
  • Carrying food on each walk and feeding after careful/safe exposure to new, novel, or potentially spooky stuff to create an awesome association

This video shows me stuffing Kongs with a homecooked diet, which is very easy. How would I stuff a Kong for a dog on a kibble diet? I suggest that you research your dog food and find the same brand in a canned version – mix half canned and half kibble and stuff it into a Kong, freezing it overnight. It’s the same nutritional value. What about a raw diet? Patties can be chopped up and stuffed into a Kong or you can take the ingredients sans-bone and put them in a baggie in your treat pouch and use a glove! 

What other ways might you enrich their environment by making them work for their food? Brainstorm some safe ways and even search online for “enriched environments for dogs” as there are many ways we can do this! Get creative!

Once you have completed this, move on to Lesson 3!