When thinking of enrichment, the first thing that often comes to mind is food-toys or games. But enrichment goes far beyond making our pets work for their food. Enrichment is channeling innate behaviours. (Read more about what enrichment is here) And for our animals, there are tons of other instinctual behaviours beyond eating. But did you know there are other types of enrichment? Six categories to be more precise! Though many of the enrichment opportunities we provide our pets will involve more than one aspect or category, it is important to know what the activity is targeting, so we can keep their mental stimulation balanced and well rounded.
Type 1 Social Enrichment
Social enrichment refers to just that, being social! This is being in different places, seeing all sorts of people and animals. Pet parents often give their dog social enrichment without even realizing it! They may just think of their daily walk as exercise. While it is that, during the walk, your pet also experiences all the life and movement around them!
Type 2 Cognitive Enrichment
Cognitive Enrichment is usually thought of as ‘training’, though this is part of it, it doesn’t get down to the root. The very foundation of cognitive enrichment is the opportunity for thinking and problem solving. As any pet parent who has had an escape artist, stealthy stealer, or all around opportunist, knows animals are great at problem solving.
Type 3 Physical Enrichment
Physical Enrichment seems pretty obvious as to what it is, but what may be less obvious is the array of ways to achieve this beyond going for a walk or run. You can simply do this by changing or adding complexity to your pet’s living space – like mazes or tunnels for example.
Type 4 Sensory Enrichment
Sensory Enrichment means stimulating one or more of your pets five senses. Touch, taste, sound, smell, or sight. We all know that dogs have incredible noses, but they also have superior hearing. You can stimulate auditory regions in the brain by setting up games or exposure to new sounds.
Type 5 Food Enrichment
Food Enrichment is often the first recommendation for anyone looking into enrichment, and for good reason. All living beings need food to live, so why not utilize that necessity in easy and unique ways. Another reason food enrichment is so popular is because you stimulate and entertain your pet while also doing other things, making it ideal to fit into one’s busy life.
Type 6 Toy Enrichment
Toy Enrichment can be more hit and miss, as not all dogs like to play with toys. For those that do, it can be as simple as only having two or three toys out at a time and rotating them every few days to make sure the dog doesn’t get bored!
If you are interested in learning more about implementing the six types of enrichment, stay tuned as we take a deeper dive into each one over the next 6 weeks.