Tonawanda News

Lifestyle

May 21, 2012

Easy ways to enrich your pet's life and help the environment

Tonawanda News — The day has come where my finely articulated words have been placed on the bottom of my bird cage to be soiled upon. Sure, it was funny when it was Joe Biden’s face or another writer’s work. But mine? So cruel. So proud. 

Recycling, enrichment and pets go hand in hand. By adding a toy to an animal’s environment or by changing the environment, we can stimulate behaviors resembling those of a healthy wild animal. Enrichment is vaguely defined as “adding greater value or significance to something.” Luckily enrichment doesn’t have to cost much, or anything.

Enrichment is intended to encourage behaviors that are appropriate for the species, and that satisfy an animal’s physical and psychological needs. In addition enrichment, like toys and feeding devices, may reduce stereotypical behaviors, such as pacing or over-grooming. They also offer an animal the sense of control.

Wild animals expend considerable time and energy finding food, building nests and defending their territories. Most of their waking hours may be spent meeting these needs. Since we take such great care of our pets we significantly reduce the time they must spend doing these behaviors, but do not address the behavioral needs associated with these activities. Enrichment can improve an animal’s well being by many methods: increasing exercise, satisfying behavioral needs, optimizing the level of stimulation and reducing abnormal behavior patterns.

The way animal professionals know enrichment is working is easy: Enrichment increases an animal’s natural behavior. So next time you are about to throw something out ask yourself, “How can I turn this into enrichment?” Simply remember reduce, reuse, recycle.

Reduce refers to reducing the amount of waste you produce in your daily activities. Before you toss out that cardboard box think about how you can use it to elicit a naturalistic behavior through enrichment. The amount of trash you get rid of may remain the same but at least your animals will have benefited from something that was simply going to the landfill.

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