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Agility 2022, Leads and Feeds Dog Training Blog

 

Contents (Click in the Contents to go straight to that section)

1) What is Mental Stimulation and Enrichment for Dogs? 

2) Sicily 2020

What is Mental Stimulaton an Enrichment for Dogs

What is Mental Stimulation and Enrichment for dogs?

Sophie and Frankie

Mental Stimulation and Enrichment is often recommended as a way to ease dog behaviour problems, and can even sometimes help curb the behaviour entirely. I often hear my clients say that they walk their dog everyday, often twice a day. Unfortunately walking the dog is one of the  minimum requirements of their dogs needs, and unfortunately simply walking the dog will generally not solve the behavioural problems they are seeing.

Although a dogs exercise is very important, it is only a small part of your dogs needs. Often, many dogs simply cannot be 'worn out', often because either the dog has not been mentally stimulated enough, or, because the dog has literally been designed/bred to be able to manage physical exertion for long periods of time. 

Another typical cause of unwanted behaviours can be a lack of sleep and good quality rest, particularly in dogs under 1 year old, please make sure they are getting sufficient naps in the day before you over walk them due to their energy and/or over-excitement. 

ENRICHMENT

Enrichment is defined as "the action of improving or enhancing the quality or value of something." 
More specifically for dogs, enrichment is the process of allow
ing a dog to engage in their innate behaviors,
"playing, chasing, smelling, chewing, and scavenging." It also generally involves adding something to their 
environment in order fo
r them to carry out these behaviours.

Enrichment has been known to lower stress levels and increase their ability to learn and retain information. 
It also often increases the dogs problem solving skills, confidence and emotional stability. 

Enrichment ideas for dogs include; 

1) Kongs 
2) Lick mats

3) Snuffle mats
4) Puzzle toys
5) Ball pits

6) Day care

7) Scatter Feeding

These are great, even better if they involve you in some way, instead of offering and walking away, 
try to be part of the dogs enrichment, this will help improve your bond. 

MENTAL STIMULATION

Mental stimulation is defined as 'giving your brain a good workout!', this absolutely applies to dogs, 
and often needs to invo
lve more than simply giving your dog a stuffed Kong and walking away. 

Mental Stimulation activities can include; 

1) Trick training
2) Lead training 
3) Scent games
4) Agility/other dog sports
5) Equipment association training

6) Gun dog training

This list is BETTER because all of the above must include you and therefore communication 
between dog and owner is ongoing during these activities, which in itself, acts as mental stimulation, 
as well as improving the relationship between you. 

Belle
Kaz, Equipment Association Training

Can you use enrichment and mental stimulation on your walks? Yes absolutely you can! Though depending what you 
are trying, you may need to begin at home, so your dog can learn what you want from them in an easier environment, before introducing the activity outside where there are lots of triggers/distractions and general smells.

 

If your dog is not used to getting cues from you out on a walk on a walk generally, they will less likely respond to you giving cues when there is a trigger present. Using the above techniques at the right time, and practice with your dog, have fun with your dog, the relationship will flourish and you will see much less undesirable behaviours.


Please see a professional trainer if you are unsure and/or need help finding the right thing for you and your dog/s.

Written by Victoria Bickley,

Leads and Feeds

Dog Training 

Sicily 2020

After going out to visit my parents in Sicily for a short holiday, the virus struck and I was unable to come back to the UK for ten months. I spent time helping my parents run their small holding, including their vineyard, honey bees, chickens, olive grove, vegetable patch etc. I helped train and work with their German Shepherd Dog Max who had been rescued from a local town.

Thats where the adventure began!

Max the GSD in Sicily

Walking Max the GSD

Walking Max for miles in a very open, wild terrain.

Recall training was essential, as was observational awareness training.

Amber, Ash and Max in Sicily

Rescuing Ash

Ash getting acclimatized to his new home with Max (GSD), Amber (Ginger cat) and Pepper (Tabby cat)

Even though when we found Ash he was around 4-5 months old, severely skinny, and afraid, wandering around on mountain roadsides, he was impossible to catch on the first day, when we found him again, so we managed to grab him and take him back home with us where he began his rehabilitation. 

Max and Ash Dog Walks

Walking Max (GSD) with Ash the rescue mix

Together they were more confident, I had to ensure they would still reliably recall despite unpredictable environmental triggers.

Max the GSD in Sicily

Max

There were so many different environment/terrain types from the beach, to large wooded lakes, mountain trails and rocky roads.

Ash the Rescue in Sicily

Ash enjoying his new views

Ash has alot of space to roam, but never has to worry again about his next meal, feeling unsafe or ever being alone again.

Ash the Rescue Pup

A healthy, happy Ash

A year later, Ash is an entirely different dog, super intelligent, a problem solver, and a very fun and loyal dog.

I also had the opportunity to provide help and care to client's in the local areas, I worked with a variety of different dogs from a small pointer, to a few Maremma's (Italian sheepdogs), a pug, a spitz and multiple cats.

It was a fantastic experience I will never forget, where I begun learning some basic Italian language and not least of all, seeing how deeply they love, as well as utilize their animals for the benefit of the community.

Sicily
Dogs in Sicily
Marrema in Sicily
Bella in Sicily
Cat in Sicily

Written by Victoria Bickley,

Leads and Feeds

Dog Training 

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