The 100 Day Project has been running for a number of years, specifically in relation to creativity and the arts, but this year, on social media #100day challenges have been applied to various areas, including dog training.
We are a little late to the party, but hope that you will join us for our 100 days of enrichment challenge (#100daysofenrichment)
Sticking with a project over long durations can be tough; this will keep us motivated over the first few months of the New Year.
And most importantly, the dogs in our lives might greatly benefit from a structured program enriching their day to day lives.
What is enrichment?
Enrichment includes ways to add to, subtract or adjust our pets’ worlds so that they have more opportunities to engage in species typical behaviours.
Species typical requirements for dogs include lots of social contact (with people, other dogs or other species – whatever floats their boat), a resting and hideaway space, functional spaces (separate toileting, resting and feeding areas, for example), mental & physical exercise, novel experiences to explore, and lots of opportunities to be a dog, doing dog things.
With dogs being such a variable species, we need to consider breed/type requirements too.
Enrichment is designed to provide animals with more choice – they get to decide how they interact with enrichment, with the things happening around them.
It also helps them to have a little control over what happens to them. Enrichment can help them to learn that their behaviour works to get them things they like and avoid things they don’t like. That’s confidence building and stress busting!
Animals will find ways to enrich their own lives, if we don’t provide outlets for them. Those behaviours can be ones that their humans find troublesome so enrichment is important in preventing problems by giving your dog an acceptable outlet for dog behaviour. Everybody wins!
Think of enrichment as being a behaviour vaccine!
While Kongs are our favourite dog toy (possibly ever), we will look beyond Kongs and food enrichment, adding challenges from lots of categories of enrichment.
Why #100daysofenrichment for dogs?
- Don’t let domestication fool ya!
Dogs might be pet animals but they still come with an extensive range of ‘natural’ dog behaviours including feeding behaviours, social behaviours, scavenging and hunting behaviours. They must do these behaviours – you, the human in control, decides how acceptable or not the demonstration of these behaviours will be.
- Boredom affects the welfare of captive animals, that includes domestic pets, because captive living allows them a limited repertoire of species typical behaviour.
We are not just talking at species level either, but also breed/type requirements. We know that lots of people get breeds or types of dogs that require more than a sedentary pet life can provide. Enrichment allows us to plug some of those gaps.
- Feeding behaviour is more than just eating and dogs need outlets for feeding behaviour (predatory and scavenging related), as well as social, social, sensory and exploratory behaviour.
- Dogs are natural puzzlers and are in it for the challenge and not just the end goal.
- Enrichment increases cognitive and learning abilities, reduces stress and therefore disease, and ensures animals are happier and more content.
The question should be, why wouldn’t you do #100daysofenrichment for dogs?
Who is #100daysofenrichment for?
Dogs. All dogs.
This might be particularly helpful for dogs in kennel accommodation in shelters (engaging dogs in enrichment improves rehoming) and this might be a great way of publicising dogs looking for new homes.
Each day will have different levels of challenges, options and adjustments so just about every dog can benefit.
These dogs’ humans will benefit too.
Each day’s challenge requires no more than ten minutes of your input or some adjustments to stuff you are already doing. But the effects can be much longer lasting for your dog.
We haven’t forgotten about other pets too and with a little editing and imagination, lots of other species can join in as well.
The best way to stick to the program is to tell everyone that you are doing it – share your photos and videos, post on social media, and best of all, let us know how you and your dog are doing!