Dogs happy if they can sink teeth into the task

Sunday Tasmanian - - News -

BE­ING busy is bet­ter than be­ing bored. Most of us are hap­pier do­ing than not do­ing and hav­ing a good rea­son to be busy helps main­tain an up­beat state of mind.

For dogs too, be­ing forced into long hours of idle­ness wait­ing for some ac­tion is a real downer. They en­joy hav­ing some­thing to do.

Given a choice, most dogs want to be ac­tive – sniff­ing, dig­ging, chew­ing and rac­ing around be­ing cu­ri­ous.

They have en­ergy to burn, orig­i­nally bred to do spe­cific jobs like guard­ing, herd­ing or hunt­ing where phys­i­cal stamina and men­tal con­cen­tra­tion are the name of the game. Long stretches of idle­ness are not.

Food chal­lenges are one way to en­rich your dog’s world.

Sev­eral stud­ies have found that if given a choice be­tween free food and food that re­quires work, (such as search­ing or ma­nip­u­lat­ing an ob­ject), many an­i­mals pre­fer to work for their food.

There are more in­ter­est­ing ways for dogs to eat than hav­ing their food dished up in a bowl.

Dry food tossed into the back yard has dogs hap­pily snuf­fling around in the grass to find it. Food hid­den in­side dog kong toys bring great de­light to dogs who like to keep busy.

Snuf­fle mats are a new favourite for dogs too, be­cause they get to sniff out hid­den treats.

Made from a rub­ber mat base with strips of fleecy ma­te­rial knot­ted densely through the holes in the mat­ting, treats are pushed down be­tween the strips for dogs to hunt out.

If your dog’s a chewer and rip­per, just keep an eye out to make sure fleecy strips aren’t get­ting chewed and de­voured in all the ex­cite­ment.

You can make your own mat, buy on­line or pur­chase at the Ho­bart Dogs Home.

INQUISITVE: Mac tracks down a treat in his snuf­fle mat.

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