Tonawanda News


September 30, 2012

Think outside the box with enrichment devices

Tonawanda News — Relating toys to what your pet does naturally is the best way to brainstorm new ideas for enrichment. Listening to a radio podcast on parrots, enrichment guru Robin Shewokis discussed the different categories toys and devices can fall into. Below I have included examples for all types of pets, in each of the categories. Enrichment is not just a buzzword; it is something all thoughtful pet owners should employ. 

Enrichment is not a toy that you give your pet once a week, month or year. It is a something novel that improves your pets’ physical and mental well being. 

Sometimes thinking outside of the box — or cage — can do wonders. Our pets explore their world through their five senses just like us, and we can use this information to our advantage when coming up with original enrichment.

The first category is foraging. What are your pet’s natural food-gathering strategies? If your pet is a predator in the wild, how can we replicate that? 

Puppies and kittens have a lot of energy. Before you throw out anything, ask yourself how you can incorporate that into a foraging device. Earlier this week I was reminded of the benefits of water bottles. With the caps and plastic rings removed they make great — and free — food dispensers. Filling up an empty water bottle with some cat treats or dog food will keep those pets occupied for a while. Remember food is not on plates in the wild, and animals out there are constantly figuring out how to retrieve food.

In addition to kong-type feeder puzzles another simple and free solution are ice treats. Freezing some kibble in an ice cube or freezing low sodium broth are great for dogs. Freezing vegetable and fruit chunks in different shaped containers are good for small mammals and birds. If you place a metal chain or string in the ice treat, you can hang it in the enclosure.

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