Dogs VS Sudoku | The Importance of Canine Enrichment
Your dog knows his or her role as a hunter and gatherer and would like nothing more than to level up their skill, however in most cases a luxurious and sedentary lifestyle stands in the way. From the dawn of time, dogs alongside humans would hunt, and well that's essentially why dogs and humans developed this symbiotic relationship, over time and right up to a couple of centuries ago dogs knew what their purpose was.
Contrasting this to the sedentary life of Fido in the modern comfort of a heated home, and you can see that the opportunities to "level up" their skills that were once prized in dogs is limited. Your dog can't live out his or her dreams of becoming the best hunter there ever was by watching T.V. or reading a good book, so boredom will eventually set in, but it doesn't have to be that way...
Only you can prevent dog boredom and become the hero of your dog's life! and modern science will help you in achieving this goal. Studies have shown that when given food enrichment toys, the dogs were generally more active but were also less likely to bark and misbehave. By providing ongoing mental stimulation, enrichment feeding toys have also been shown to slow down your dog’s cognitive decline due to age, not to mention the benefits that eating slowly has on their digestion.
If you ever heard of Enrichment as a concept and dismissed it, thinking your dog doing Sudoku style puzzles to get food seems counter intuitive, I would urge you to give it a second glance. Enrichment comes in many shapes, forms and budgets. From the humble chew toy stuffed with food to a snuffle mat bought or even made to hide your dogs food will really get them working for it. As with humans it usually feels better when you earn something then if it was simply given to you, and in a dog's life there are few opportunities to use all those ancient skills still running around in their brain from all those centuries of evolution.
If you have kids then you already know that keeping them busy is the best way to unleash all that energy that otherwise manifests in misbehavior. Your dog has a brain that is just looking for a proper outlet to exercise it. Why not encourage the practice?
In conclusion, i'm not trying to push any product, just a concept with merit and verifiable science, your involvement with enrichment might vary depending on a few factors, if you have more than one dog or if you have a large backyard with some occasional urban wildlife to chase, then your dog will not need this as much. However if your dog waits around the apartment all day for you to come back home from work ... Let's face it, boredom sucks no matter your species, variety is the spice of life, so season it accordingly.
Image credit: @ Outward Hound