ABOUT THE COMPANY
The inception of the company came about through my own experience as a novice dog owner, with a fearful and highly reactive Border Collie. As we travelled and camped a lot, it was then that I found she has an extreme reaction to wind turbines of all things! (You may not have noticed them, but trust Talulah, they are popping up everywhere in all shapes and sizes).
Being unable to take her on daily walks when travelling or staying in unfamiliar areas (for fear of encountering wind turbines), I was faced with the incredible challenge of keeping a confined collie calm. I needed to find solutions. I needed to exercise her, stimulate her mentally, challenge her physically, surprise her, entertain her and empower her.
My search for support for myself and Talulah led me to meet many others with reactive dogs (albeit online as it would be utter chaos if we actually met up with our dogs!) I found we were all facing the same challenges and feeling the same frustrations when trying to keep our dogs suitably occupied and engaged.
And so here we are just one year on, with knowledge and experience, having found things that work and things that did not. Being able to meet the needs of my occasionally house-bound (or campervan-bound) pet AND now providing added enrichment into her life on a daily basis felt wonderful. Knowing that I was doing right by her and giving her a life that she loved brought me immeasurable pleasure and peace.
And this is why I am so passionate about the work that we do at The Pawsitive Enrichment Company.
Why is Enrichment Important?
First things first! Animal enrichment is not a mechanism to keep your pet occupied (when alone or to distract them whilst you do other things). Your pet should be supervised during enrichment activities.
Enrichment involves making “Additions to an animal’s environment with which the animal voluntarily interacts and, as a result, experiences improved physical and/or psychological health.” In essence, Enrichment gives meaning and purpose to an animal’s life.
Through the domestication of animals into family pets over the years, animals have been taken out of their natural environment so enriching their lives with things like toys and species appropriate activities is essential to ensure their complete well-being.
We love to share! If you are after inspiration for DIY animal enrichment ideas / activities then check out our DIY Enrichment page for ideas that cost you little to nothing. We also have our own enrichment shop.
What is Animal Enrichment in Practice?
Any stimulus, which evokes an animal’s interest in a positive way, can be considered enriching. Enrichment can include natural and artificial objects, scents, foods, and different methods of preparing foods. Most enrichment stimuli can be divided into seven groups:
Environmental – enhancing animal habitats with opportunities that change or add complexity to the environment.
Feeding – by providing food to an animal in different ways, such as hiding, scattering, burying, or presenting it differently, natural foraging instincts are encouraged by requiring the animal to investigate, manipulate, and work for their food as they would in non-domesticated environments. Feeding enrichment is the most common technique used.
Manipulation – providing items that can be manipulated by the paws, feet, head, mouth, etc. promotes investigatory behaviour and exploratory play that is often closely related to behaviours that can be seen by the species in a natural, wild habitat. Many objects offered to an animal in their habitat can contain treats that require the animal to open, break apart, and/or find the treats through obstacles within the enrichment object.
Puzzles – such as puzzle feeders or manipulation objects require an animal to solve simple problems to access food, or other rewards.
Sensory – stimulating animals’ senses: visual, olfactory (smell), auditory (hearing), tactile (touch), and taste encourages animals to assess their environment – promoting natural behaviours; like exploration, scent marking, licking, and rolling
Social – providing the opportunity to interact with other animals and/or humans.
Training – training animals with positive reinforcement or habituation, not only mentally stimulates them, but also helps to create and form a bond between the animal and his/her owner.