On a daily basis dogs need things to do no matter what age. A lot of behaviour problems in dogs are due to lack of outlets for natural behaviours. Dogs depend on us to do a lot of things, we decide when they eat, when they go out and control a lot of what they do; when they can sniff, when they sit and more.
The simple fact is a lot of the time, our dogs are confined to our homes, where they see the same four walls and garden day in and day out, dogs can get cabin fever too! This builds boredom, frustration and even depression in some dogs. Some dogs end up going self employed and give themselves a job to do patrolling the house/garden barking at everything that comes by or chasing shadows or worse self mutilation such as repetitive licking and chewing at body parts.
Dogs are natural foragers, some love digging, some love water, some breeds like retrieving and some like hunting, they need an outlet for these all behaviours. Now each dog is an individual and you need to to find what works for your dog, interactive feeding is just one way to provide them outlets for the above behaviours, this should be done on a daily basis at each meal or between meals and you can break their daily allowance to multiple times a day.
Dogs are only fed twice a day as it fits into our routine, dogs would naturally eat more regularly. Interactive feeding also helps slow faster eaters down, it builds confidence if done right and the challenge also tires them out. It should take your dog sometime to work it out, stimulating but it should not be so frustrating your dog gives up or over exciting that your dog becomes wired, start off with some of the easier ideas below like the Snuffle Mats or Kongs stuffed with wet dog food or something they lick, increasing the difficulty when your dog gets better at it like hiding the kong round the house or garden (not making it harder to get out). Giving your dog regular things to do can help prevent chewing, stealing things, slows down eating and most importantly improves their moods state. Keep these items novel by taking them and away and to prevent them being chewed, always trade for one last treat, to prevent guarding the item.
Below are some products on the market that do just this as well as other ideas for natural behaviour outlets, it’s important to find what’s right for your dog all dogs are different, also ensure if your dogs a real chewer you look at the more durable ones, also consider your dogs physiology for example some items will not suit short nose breeds:
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