Welcome to Day 37 of #100daysofenrichment and thank you for joining us on this journey!
Although our challenges are directed mainly at dogs, we want all species to enjoy and benefit from #100daysofenrichment so, please join in, adjust and adapt to help your pet or companion live a more enriched life.
Don’t forget to review all the information leading up to #100daysofenrichment and more here on playing safe. Know your dog!
Lappables & Lickables
At a glance:
- devices to encourage your dog to use their tongue
- food based enrichment
- line it, spread it, freeze it, suspend them
- get the family involved in this one – kids love making puzzles for pets and these challenges offer lots of opportunities for children to use their imagination to come up different challenges for their pets.
Remember, supervise children in all enrichment activities and interactions with pets.
- prep will probably take you 5-10 minutes – you can store lots of these in the freezer too, so there will always be a puzzle ready to go
What do you need?
- stuffable toys, such as Kongs, K9Connectables, Zogoflex
- paper plate, frisbee, biscuit/sweets insert
- pyramid mat, Lickey mat
- muffin pan, non-slip dog bowl, ice cube tray
- a range of food types
- a dog lead (a shoe lace or a length of rope or cord will do too)
That rhythmic lapping is relaxing and calming. (Link)
Because of the home made nature and variable materials used in today’s puzzles, it’s best to supervise your pet carefully when they have access to these.
Know your dog! If you have an ingester, some of these puzzles may not work.
If you are concerned about your dog ingesting non-food items during puzzling, have a pocketful of HIGH value treats in your pocket and be ready to toss a couple toward your dog, across their eyeline, if you think they are thinking about eating the paper.
Making sure the challenge is very doable and they can get to the hidden food rewards quickly is key to modifying their behaviour and expectations during puzzling.
Check all your equipment for this challenge carefully and make sure to remove tape, staples, other fasteners, small pieces and plastic pieces. Play safe!
- to encourage lapping and licking – these behaviours are relaxing for dogs and can help them recover from stress (including excitement)
- to slow eating
- to help dogs settle themselves and soothe themselves
We teach pet owners how to Park their Pups! This can be a great way of helping puppies, new or active dogs learn to chill when everyone else is relaxed and for bringing your pet places such as outdoor cafes (set up clip here).
- to slow down and choose calming, quiet lapping and licking behaviours, rather than all-out destruction
While this challenge is certainly food based, they are also experiencing cognitive, sensory and environmental enrichment, with lots of crossover between categories.
Working out how to clean out the puzzle and developing dexterous skills in manipulating the it are examples of cognitive challenge.
Sniffing out, tasting and lapping different foods, from different substrates, all offer sensory pay off, but so does finding each puzzle, determining its value, and engaging in the puzzle of getting to the good stuff.
Puzzles encourage pets to interact with their environment – just the very interaction with the puzzle is encouraging the pet to manipulate their surroundings, to get the things they like.
What goals can you add to this list for your pets?
Something lappable after an outing is the perfect way to come back down from the excitement and exertion, and relax. (Link)
How can we achieve these goals?
- provide a comfy safe space for working on the puzzle – this means that your pet won’t be approached or fussed with when there so that they can work away on their puzzle without too much pressure
- use foods that encourage lapping and licking
- if the pet is new to these puzzles, use HIGH value foods to motivate exploration and experimentation and make it VERY easy to get the food (no frustration and no destruction!)
- if your pet is a novice, give these when they are calm and chilled and when the house and humans/other pets are calm and quiet – this will help them to associate calm with this context, which in turns helps to calm them further
- although Lickimats and similar are very popular, some of the designs appear to cause lots of dogs serious frustration. Dogs might bite at it, attempt to turn or lift the mat, or even give up on it, all of which might indicate that it’s too difficult and frustrating (and not enriching). Take care and as always, carefully analyse whether an activity is really enriching for the individual.
What adjustments will you make for your pets?
Applications of lappables & lickables:
Once the pet’s use of lappables & lickables is established and they get the game, we can begin to use them in their day to day lives to achieve our enrichment goals.
- make lappables and lickables available after stress or excitement
It’s great to have them ready for after walks, games, training sessions, after people come home or after a more stressful event such as getting a fright, after barking and so on.
- use them to manage and redirect behaviour
Have them ready when guests come in, to keep your pet busy in another room while guests settle and to give to your pet so that they are busy when guests are present.
Smear a lappable like cream cheese or pate on the walls of a travel crate to help make travel more comfortable for puppies.
- help to keep them entertained, busy and to settle
Lappables & licakables can be great to give when you need them to entertain themselves and to settle themselves.
- sometimes stuffables can be comforting to a confined or alone pet
These are an excellent addition for pets that are on restricted exercise, crate rest or living in kennel confinement. Check out some of the suspended behind-bars options to help keep confined pets happy, safe and busy.
On Day 17, we talked about lots of ways we could use lappables and lickables to help distract and manage a pet’s behaviour during grooming and other husbandry procedures.
- use a spatula, dipped in something irresistible like pate, cable tied to the leg of a chair or table so it’s easy to fit and remove for regular use
Stick a dipped wooden spoon into the plug hole of the bath or shower for your dog to work on while you bathe them:
- line or stuff a Kong toy or other stuffable and wedge in between the sofa cushions; this will be at head height for a lot of medium and large sized dogs
Use a stuffed or lined stuffable between your knees to carry out husbandry procedures, such as eye cleaning:
- smear the sides of the bath or the walls around a grooming table so that your dog can lap, while you groom and bathe
I found this vegetable cleaner, with a little suction cup, in a home wares store for €1.50 and it’s been really effective for keeping dogs occupied and happy for grooming and bathing. I jam in some pate and freeze it; there are two sides to keep them interested:
You can also buy stuffable toys with suction cups for dogs like the Chase n’ Chomp Sticky Bone or Licky Mats, and there are lots of other types and designs. The suction cup is handy for in the bath and most will connect readily to slick walls or doors.
A Snuffle Mat or similar feeder can be placed on a stool or chair for the dog to work on while you groom them too.
Lappables & lickables are pretty versatile. Choose ingredients to encourage lapping and licking.
When using people-suitable ingredients, please check labels for substances that can be harmful to dogs such as xylitol, oninon or garlic powder, raisins or grapes and so on.
- pates, meat or fish pastes
- cream cheese, soft/spreadable cheese, cottage cheese, yoghurt, butter or spreads
- peanut butter or other nut butters
- coconut oil
- kibble mash (soak kibble in warm water (or flavouring like a gravy) and mash with a fork)
- cooked and mashed potato, carrot, sweet potato, squashes, apple
- mashed banana
- baby food
- commercial wet food, such as good quality tinned foods
- scrambled egg
Gravies and flavourings
To entice your pet and to make some of today’s options better for freezing, mixing the contents with something yummy is usually a winner!
- yoghurt, soft and spreadable cheeses
- low-sodium stock
- gelatin (small amounts as it causes flatulence)
- mash wet foods into pastes, add water to thin if required. to make a ‘gravy’
- meat or vegetable juices/water (allow it to sit so that the fat can be skimmed and removed)
- baby foods
Your dog’s regular diet
Some of the options allow for the use of any and all food types, including kibble, wet foods and fresh and raw foods too so all the bases are covered today.
Option 1 Spread it!
Spread your spreadable on something for your dog to lick and lap:
- paper plate
- plastic frisbee
- biscuit/chocolate/sweets inserts, right side up
- biscuit/chocolate/sweets inserts, upside down
- pyramid mat
- Muffin pan or ice cube tray, upside down
- Non-slip dog bowl, upside down
- Stuffable toys like Kongs or K9Connectables or chews like Nylabones – line it on the inside or spread it on the outside
- Commercially available toys like Chase n’ Chomp Sticky Bone or Licky Mats
Freeze spreadables for extra lapping!
Option 2: Freeze it!
This option might be particularly useful for dogs who are likely to ingest toys and enrichment devices, and when they can’t be supervised.
Because we are using ice, essentially, this may only be suitable in warm, comfortable temperatures. Don’t give dogs ice cold things to eat if they are very hot or after exerting exercise – allow them to cool a little first.
- Line a lunchbox or tub with a freezer bag (or just use the bag) and add water or low-sodium stock. Add some kibble, regular food, treats, meats, vegetables.
- Close the bag and freeze for a couple of hours.
- Remove the frozen mix from the tub and peel away the bag (reuse it for the next one!)
- Give to your pet to work on.
Use any freezable containers, such as :
- lunchboxes or bowls
- upturned non-slip dog bowls
Line the underside of the bowl and add food, treats and water. Freeze and then pull the ring out. This can make a great suspended puzzle by hanging the ice-ring up with a dog lead.
- muffin pans or similar baking trays
- ice cube trays, which are available in lots of different sizes
- pyramid baking mats
Smear spreadable yummies and add add treats or food to each space. Freeze and then turn out.
- freeze stuffables
- Fill each gap with a variety of possibilities; scroll down to our list of ingredients for Stuffables that can be used. We talk about Pupsicles there too.
- Load each gap in a muffin tray or ice cube tray with a mix of your dog’s favourites and add a stick-like chew, such as a pizzle to each mix. Freeze and your will have pupsicles with sticks, just like a human ice-cream!
- Make a gravy out of wet dog food or spreadables by mixing with a little water. Pour the mixture into the container, freeze and have different sized treats ready for training, for stuffing in toys and for enjoying.
Using a pyramid tray makes small sized, handy treats and there are lots of recipes on line for baked treats too.
- Add treats to each space and freeze or add smaller amounts of food, topped up with water, to make lighter snacks.
- Freeze meat, wet dog food, or even a kibble mash and give the block to the dog to chew.
- For dogs on more restricted diets, just adding their regular kibble or food to some water and freezing in a container can present a novelty that might be attractive to them.
- Freeze fruits or vegetables in a tray or whole. If your dog needs enticement, dip the fruit or veg in some meat juices and freeze that. This is a great way to add low calorie, but very tasty treats, to a fat restricted diet.
Always allow meat juices to cool and skim the fat first, before use.
You can also use gravies, yogurt or cream cheese instead of or mixed with the water.
Lay a cord or dog lead in the mix before freezing and you will have a ready made puzzle-on-a-rope for suspended puzzling fun!
Option 3 Suspend it!
Suspending any puzzle provides entirely new challenges and sensory experiences for animals. Not only does it look and act differently, they now need to develop new strategies for figuring it out!
In this clip, the stuffable toys used are stuffed with baby food and frozen, to encourage lots of lapping & licking.
Suspended puzzles come in three levels of difficulty generally and here we are going to add an extra level of challenge.
- suspend the lappable loosely, with lots of give in the line, against a wall or flat surface
- suspend the lappable on a slightly more taut line, freestanding (so not against a wall or flat surface)
- behind bars
Spread your spreadable on:
- paper plates
- plastic frisbee or plates
- plastic insert
- muffin pan
- pyramid pan
- underside of an ice cube tray
Suspend your lappable using:
- cord, rope, dog lead
- cable ties
- pipe cleaners
- plant ties
I love using these lappables for crate confinement for dogs on rest, for example. It’s an extra challenge for them without giving them access to something they might ingest. I tend to use paper plates and cable ties, with the excess to the outside away from the dog.
Option 4 Lickables
We can slow dogs down, encouraging them to use their tongue to eat, rather than just inhale food. These are essentially slow-feeder bowls.
And even if your dog doesn’t wolf their food down, these challenges can offer new sensory and cognitive experiences.
Distribute your dog’s meals in:
- each gap in a muffin pan, right side up
- each gap in a muffin pan, upside down
- each gap in an ice cube tray, right side up
- each gap in an ice cube tray, upside down
- in an upside down non-slip dog bowl
Now it’s your turn. Show us what you and your pets, of any species, can do with these challenges!
Post to your social media accounts, using the #100daysofenrichment so that we can find you and join our Facebook group to share your experiences, ideas and fun!
You can comment right here too 🙂
We look forward to hearing from you and your pets – have fun & brain games!