Sensory Enrichment means stimulating one or more of your pet’s five senses, such as touch, taste, sound, smell, and sight. The concept may seem straightforward enough, but ideas to actually achieve this may seem daunting or difficult. But have no fear! That is why Pet Subscription Boxes are here! We are going to talk more about how to add this to your pet’s daily life.
A fun example is teaching your pet a new game! We have all heard that most pets have incredible noses, but they also have superior hearing. You can stimulate auditory regions in the brain by teaching your pet to find the source of a sound. This is ideal for a lot of dogs because hearing isn’t a sense that is often fostered or encouraged. There are other less hands-on examples of auditory enrichment like playing nature sounds or pet-specific music while you’re out.
As mentioned before, sensory enrichment goes beyond what your pet can hear and smell. Enrichment doesn’t have to be fancy or extravagant. It can be as simple as letting your pet play in the water, dig in the dirt, or even roll in the grass. By purchasing a kiddy pool and adding sand with treats or toys buried in it, you are providing your pet with an appropriate, breed-specific activity. The opportunities are endless! Have a pet that likes splashing in water more than digging? Fill the pool with water and plastic balls, then encourage them to play in it! Enrichment is variety, so regularly change the items in the pool.
Pet owners often tell me how much their pet loves to eat or play with ice. That is sensory enrichment! It is a novel feeling that can excite and stimulate many animals. A perfect way to incorporate this is by making a pup-sicle! This can be as simple as freezing a little flavouring into ice cubes and offering that, or as extravagant as using a cake pan and adding all sorts of toys and treats for your dog to uncover as it melts. Pro Tip: Perfect for hot days around the house!
Like many types of enrichment, sensory and food enrichment have a lot of overlapping points. For example, our pet often eats the same meal twice a day for the majority of their lives, and while this is fine, changing up the types of food and how they eat them can be very beneficial by keeping them stimulated and satisfied. An animal hunting for themselves will catch and eat what they can, but that is rarely going to be the same thing every meal. Soft food for one meal and hard for another is a prime example of mixing textures for sensory enrichment.
When providing any type of enrichment, the ultimate goal is tapping into their more basic instincts. The most important part of that statement is the word THEIR. We can provide activities out the ying-yang, but if they aren’t with our pets in mind, or are geared toward the wrong behaviours, it won’t be helpful to anyone. One would be unlikely to set up a pool for their cat but that doesn’t mean their cat doesn’t like or need enrichment. It just means we aren’t focused on their instincts as the ultimate goal of the enrichment.
We all want the best for our pets, and the way to do that is by getting to know your pet specifically, not just pets in general. Join us on Facebook to learn more awesome enrichment ideas!