We all need mental stimulation – so too do our dogs and cats – but have you thought about the type of stimulation that you provide your dog or cat? Do you provide stimulation that allows your dog or cat to interact with their environment in a way that allows them to use their natural abilities and behaviours?
What about a treat search?
Ditch the treat ball and throw some yummy, great smelling treats out on your lawn, or as your animal grows in skill make it a little harder by hiding them – place them in a tree or a bush where your dog or cat can reach them, maybe pop some inside a cardboard box or a snuffle mat for those indoor dogs and cats.
Mix it up for them, change where you hide the treats, change the time of day you do it, change the type of treats you use, maybe cooked chicken one day, beef another. Make it different and enriching for them.
Treat searches are a wonderful activity for your dog or cat – one that allows them to use their natural abilities and bahaviours.
They are easy to do, they are fun and dogs and cats love using their nose to sniff and find treats.
When your dog or cat uses their nose, it not only provides mental stimulation, but can also actually be a calming activity for them.
Treat searches can help your dog or cat to learn concentration and build confidence.
They allow your dog or cat to naturally stretch out their back and neck and if your animal is stepping over things, under things and around things while searching for their treat they are exercising their muscles and joints in a natural and gentle way, so not only is treat searching great for puppies, kittens and all ages in between, but is so beneficial for your older animals as well.
But remember, while you want to make it a little challenging for them, you don’t want to make it too hard that they can’t find or reach the treat or they are stretching beyond their capacity. Always be mindful of your animal and their capabilities, (eg: dogs recovering from injury or older arthritic dogs and cats).
Use your imagination, create treat searches that are fun, enriching and enjoyed by your animal.