Environmental Enrichment for Puppies and Kittens (and older pets too!)
Perhaps you're looking for some ideas for inside play, maybe a distraction for your pup when you leave the house whatever the reason, we're pretty sure KONG has you covered.
Interactive toys are manufactured in a diverse range of shapes, sizes and various materials. Providing a variety of challenges that can cater to a umber of play style needs.
Interactive Chew Toys:
Chew toys are an excellent way of keeping a dog happy and busy for hours because you can fill them with different foods like peanut butter or chicken nd put them in the freezer for a few hours before giving them to your dog. This makes the stuffing last longer and gives your dog a good feeling while he is chewing.
Treat balls are a great way of feeding a dog's meal, this will take longer to eat and requires physical interaction and problem solving.
There are many different kinds of puzzle feeders that present challenges and provide dogs with varying degrees of difficulty.
Tug toys are great for playing the game of tug and retrieve. These toys usually take the form of knotted ropes or are made of durable material that provide a good surface to bite on.
Mot dog enjoy a chase, so chase style toys can be highly stimulating. By attaching a length of rope to a soft toy, you can run around dragging the toy across the ground and teach your dog to chase after it. This is best done if you cant reach your dog to wait and only allow him to chase on your cue, a great way of teaching impulse control.
Below is a quote from Dr. Karen London and Dr. Patricia McConnell's book titled 'Play together, Stay together.' which explores happy and healthy play between people and pets. Play provides enrichment that helps dogs and cats maintain mental, physical, and emotional health and channels energy constructively.
"Play is powerful stuff. It influences so many things including development, motivation, emotions, physiology, communication, and behaviour. Wow!"
Key Benefits of Play
- Provides physical exercise
- Strengthens the dog and owner bond
- Provides mental stimulation
- It's a fun way to train and great as a reward
- Relieves boredom
Cats love to play too!!
Feline play explores all parts of predatory sequence:
search, stalk, chase, pounce, catch and manipulate. Whilst play in adult cats may alter somewhat from when they were kittens, it is a common misconception that cats ONLY play as kittens. Adult cats benefit from relate play and playful interaction with owners. Establishing what stimulates a cat can require some trial and error as each cat may develop specific likes and dislikes regarding toys based on the following:
- movement eg: random, quick stop/start motion
- owner interaction required
Cats are naturally neophilic (excited by novelty) so toys left out will soon lose their appeal, therefore toys should be rotated randomly and stored away while not in use. Cats enjoy play that mimics natural predatory behaviour with short bursts of activity. games that stimulate the drive to chase, pounce and catch are popular. The best time to play with a cat is where it appears they are naturally interested, some clues in our cats. behaviour that indicate a good time to initiate play are:
- when your cat spontaneously begins to play or bat at objects
- sudden staccato movements and increased activity
- dilated pupils, alert expression
Whilst cats don't demonstrate the same level of desertion with their toys that dogs do, it is still wise to implement safety measures when providing kitty with toys.
- introduce new toys under supervision - To ensure that they are suitable for the individual
- don't leave teaser toys with a cat unsupervised - Strings can present a digestive hazard and require supervision to avoid entanglement
- inspect toys regularly and discontinue use if worn, lose or torn.
Overall play has been shown to have a very positive affect on mental and physical development in young animals that carries on through to adulthood.