Enrichment is an addition to an animal’s environment with which the animal voluntarily interacts and, as a result, experiences improved mental and/or physical health. Put simply, this means modifying our pet’s environment to support physical activity and replicate behaviours that an animal would do in the wild. For cats, think stalking and hunting, and think tracking, digging, and chewing for dogs.
Mental stimulation, also known as enrichment, is important for our pets because they weren’t designed to wait all day for us to take them on a simple walk when we get home from work. Our pets’ ancestors survived by being elite hunters, spending the majority of their day tracking down their meals. This kept them engaged and connected to the world around them. This meant hearing, seeing, smelling, and walking past things that are new and different on a daily basis. Enrichment is more than making our pets work for their food. It involves thinking, solving puzzles, exposure to new and novel stimuli— whether it be visual, olfactory, tactile, or audible.
Through quarantine in 2020, we humans got a small taste of what many pets experience everyday. If you exercised, did you feel satisfied and content to do nothing else the rest of the day? And I mean nothing. No phone, reading, or crafting. For some, your answer may be yes, just like some pets. But the majority will say no. Though we may like being home well enough, it just became too much of the same. Our pets experience this too. Often when they feel bored and want to do something to entertain themselves, we perceive this as naughty or undesirable behaviour. If you got punished every time you scrolled through social media, you may stop doing it, but it has done nothing to change that you are still bored!
Though physical activity is important it is often thought of as the most important. This just simply isn’t the case. Think of a time when you had to really think or focus on something. How did you feel after that? Probably pretty drained, and content to do nothing. Now think of a time when you did moderate exercise. How did you feel after that? You may feel more alert and energized. Though the exercise is great for our body and important to maintaining health, it doesn’t have the same ability to make us feel stimulated, smart, or calm even.
Some experts believe that if pets could speak, their most used phrase would be ‘I’m bored.’ When a child tells us this, we can give them ideas of what to do. Pets on the other hand, are limited in what they can ‘go do.’ This is why as owners and guardians we need an arsenal or tools and knowledge to keep our pets happy and healthy.
This is why we created the Clever Canine and Clever Cat Subscription Boxes. Our dream is to be the one stop shop for pet owners to come and fill their tool box. With products selected by pet industry experts and professionals, you won’t have to research what items are best, they will just show up at your door! And because we know enrichment doesn’t just come in the form of toys, we are creating a database of DIY enrichment games and ideas for you to do with your pet. Our passion is you and your animals, that is why we want to deliver you peace of mind, knowing that your pet is living their best life
Woofs and Kisses from the Pet Subscription Boxes Team.