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Community newsANIMALS 101 - MEETING YOUR PET'S NEEDS.

ANIMALS 101 – MEETING YOUR PET’S NEEDS.
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ANIMALS 101 – Your animals has needs too.

Your pets need more than just food and water! Animals are sentient beings and if we want the privilege to share our lives with them, we need to make sure that all their needs are met, including behavioural enrichment which ALL animals need! If you consider your pet to be “naughty”, then you are not meeting their needs! Dogs for example will dig holes, bark, roll in stuff and more and although it is considered natural behaviour, when done excessively, it can be an indication of boredom and their needs not being met.

WHAT IS ENRICHMENT?

Behavioural enrichment is an animal husbandry principle that seeks to enhance the quality of captive animal care by identifying and providing the environmental stimuli necessary for optimal psychological and physiological well-being.

WHY IS ENRICHMENT IMPORTANT?

Enrichment allows animals to demonstrate their species-typical behaviour, gives them opportunity to exercise control or choice over their environment and enhances their well-being.

animals
Photo by The Paw Company

TYPES OF ENRICHMENT

FOOD based enrichment is the most widely used method of enrichment as all animals require food to survive and the animals are also more inclined to interact. The aim of food-based enrichment is to prolong feeding times. The easiest way to do this is by dividing the animal’s daily diet into three or four separate feeds.

The PHYSICAL HABITAT of the animal plays an important role in its welfare, meeting its physical requirements and providing a positive environment for them to live in.

SOCIAL enrichment involves housing animals of different species with others that they would naturally associate with or encounter in the wild.

COGNITIVE enrichment includes novel objects that occupy the animal’s time in a captive setting. The sort of objects that you may see used in this way include Boomer balls, Kong toys, tyres, cardboard tubes and fireman’s hoses.

SENSORY enrichment can encompass any of the five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. The most common form of sensory enrichment used is olfactory enrichment, which uses sense of smell. Items such as safe plants, herbs and spices, catnip for the cats and more, can be put around the enclosure.

Also read: ANIMALS 101 – HOW TO COMFORT YOUR STORM-PHOBIC PET

WHAT-WHY-WHEN

When deciding what environmental and behavioural enrichment is required, you might want to consider the WHAT-WHY-WHEN approach. This is a simple rule of thumb to help you develop an enrichment program.

WHAT does this species spend time and energy on in the wild or in their natural setting? The more time and energy spent on a behaviour can indicate how motivated that animal is to carry out the behaviour, and conversely how frustrated it will become if it cannot carry out the behaviour.

WHY does it carry out this behaviour? This helps prioritise the behaviours, as not all behaviours are equal. If the behaviour is a result of physiological evolution that supports the species and individual survival, it is probably important. Combine this with how much time and energy is spent on the behaviour in their natural setting, and it can provide guidance on what behaviours to encourage in captivity for positive experiences.

WHEN do species need to express certain behaviours? Animals will have different behavioural needs at different times of the day, season and life cycle. For example, nocturnal animals will need to be more stimulated at night, while pregnant or nursing mothers will require appropriate refuge and young animals will need appropriate social interactions and environmental stimulation for learning.

See some enrichment ideas below! 30 minutes a day is only 2% of your week! It is not much to ask, for a pet you choose to have and be responsible for.

animals
Photo Frances McCormack

TIPS ABOUT ENRICHMENT (from The Mobile Vet Nurse)

  • Supervise

When introducing new forms of environmental enrichment for a cat or dog or any animal, they should always be supervised initially. Monitor for safety and enjoyment!

  • They’re all individual

Enrichment is not one size fits all. My idea of a fun hobby may not be the same as yours and the same is true for our pets. Try different things and see what your pet enjoys! Even within the same breed or specie, their likes and dislikes might differ.

  • Get Creative.

There is not an all-inclusive list of enrichment ideas. Read articles about enrichment. Talk to rehabilitation facilities, rescues and other pet owners about what they do. Would your pet like that?

  • Have fun!

Enrichment for your cat or dog or other pets is also an opportunity for you to improve the bond you have and have fun together! At the end of the day – we are different species who don’t speak the same language able to co-habitate and enjoy each other’s company. That’s pretty amazing!

  • Review

Enrichment isn’t a box to tick and move on! You need to keep it fresh and ensure your pet is still enjoying what’s on offer. The same thing gets boring after a while and as our pets age, their needs change too.

Photo by Dr. Karen Becker

YOUR GARDEN & YOUR DOG (by Dr. Karen Becker)

Don’t give up on your dream of having a great yard if you have a pet. Dogs and lush, non-toxic outdoor spaces can coexist!

CREATE A CANINE-FRIENDLY SPACE

1. Build a play area.

2. Add a water feature.

3. Install a marking post.

4. Consider creating a sensory garden.

NEXT, CREATE HUMAN SPACE WITH YOUR DOG IN MIND

5. Design a walkway around the perimeter of your yard.

6. Protect your plants.

7. Plant a meadow.

8. Avoid toxic plants and chemicals.

9. Practice safe staking.

10. Manage urine burns and pet waste.

READ MORE on the above and creating a garden for you and your pets.

ARE YOU MEETING YOUR PET’S NEEDS?

Thank you for tuning in! Next week we will look at enclosures for your pets!

WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER!

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ANIMALS 101 – MEETING YOUR PET’S NEEDS.

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