I stumbled upon an enrichment challenge, 100 Days of Enrichment brought to us by AniEd Ireland, and I'm so excited about it for a couple reasons!
First, if you know anything about me at all, it's that I love and am a huge proponent of mental enrichment/exercise! I'm always happy to hear more about new ideas and a challenge like this is sure to add a few more ideas to our arsenal!
Second, I'm excited to put my money where my mouth is and show you and my clients how easy it is to incorporate a little bit of enrichment in your SideKick's life on a daily basis!
Today is Day 7 of the challenge and this blog post is an explanation of the first week of challenges and a demonstration of how Ruby and I approached each day of week 1!
If you're interested in participating in the challenge, I 110% recommend checking out the blog post on AniEd Ireland's website! If you're not sure about committing to the full 100 days of the enrichment challenge, follow along with me and Ruby on Instagram as we make our way through each day - you might just find a few, fun, new ideas for you and your SideKick to take advantage of!
Day 1: Stuffables
In hour house, we're no strangers to stuffable food toys! Ruby loves her a stuffed Kong and I'm a fan of coming up with new things to stuff in it (as you can read more about in a previous blog post if you're interested in what I've come up with)!
Day 2: Play - Release the toy, Release the joy
This day's challenge is about teaching a release or drop it to your dog - and making it a fun thing to do! This is a skill Ruby has under her belt because it's one we worked on from an early age (and often)! In this video, you can see (or hear) that I'm never even able to give our Drop It cue because it's such a habit to drop the ball - even though I only had a dry biscuit treat to share with her!
Day 3: Handling & Husbandry
With Ruby, as I've mentioned a few times on this blog before, we quickly learned that she's uncomfortable with anything touching her, so even brushing was a challenge initially. We stumbled on and developed a way for her to tell us if she was comfortable letting something touch her, though - a Ready cue or target.
I hold something up - in this video, it's her brush - and ask her if she's ready.
If she targets the item with her nose, you can touch her.
Briefly touch her with the item - in this case, brush her for a few strokes.
Treats! Because handling means good things happen!
Note: if Ruby does not target the item, then she isn't comfortable and it's too much of an ask right now; she does not get touched with the item, but she still gets a treat.
This is a process we've found works for us; there are, however, so many different ways to go about cooperative care and husbandry procedures.
Day 4: Hanging out - Just be
This day focuses on hanging out and letting our dogs just be! This is a behavior I encourage practicing regularly with your SideKick! There are a lot of times when relaxing, being calm and quiet, and just hanging out are not natural behaviors - or behaviors that your dog may choose to turn to right away.
When I first started working from home, Ruby had a hard time settling down; while I can't know what exactly was going through her head, it appeared as if she felt like she had to follow me around the house, find out what I was up to any time I got up, and don't even think about talking on the phone (because then she'd have lots to say about it). This picture depicts what Day 4's work-from-home morning looked like: in her natural, blanket throne habitat, she's relaxed, sleeping, calm and able to remain relaxed when I was coming and going from the couch.
While it may not seem like much is going on as you're teaching your dog to relax and settle, depending on the dog, it could be one of the most difficult behaviors you help your SideKick learn!
Day 5: Freestyle Friday
For this day's challenge, I plucked a vegetable broth carton from my recycling, thoroughly rinsed it, and put a few different types of food/treats in it! Ruby enjoyed destroying the carton to get to some of her kibble, a few duck and turkey biscuits, some Fruitables, and a torn up piece of chicken jerky!
Day 6: Sniffing Saturday - Sniffathon
Dogs sniff - it's how they experience the world and gather information about it - so let's let them! This video is a pretty typical depiction of our walks with Ruby; we go on walks specifically for mental enrichment - sniffing, exploring, and experiencing the world like a doggo!
Day 7: Sunday Funday!
Sunday Funday (with regard to this challenge) means repeating a day from the week that we enjoyed with our SideKicks or that we'd like to expand on. Ruby and I chose to revisit Friday's challenge (Day 5), which we didn't actually follow correctly the first time we did it; this time we did it as the challenge actually encouraged and put treats and paper in a box for Ruby to rifle through. Ruby enjoyed knocking it over and finding a couple chicken jerky pieces, but was a bit skittish with sticking her head in the box after it fell over. She was brave, though and kept at it until she found all the homemade tuna treats in there, too!
Keep following on Instagram to see more of what me and Ruby are up to!