Well, the short answer is YES, and probably for a lot of reasons! But today I’ll focus on just one aspect, BORING Kongs.
Lynn and I recently attended a seminar on enrichment with Mik Moeller and one thing that really stood out to me is “it’s not enrichment if it’s the same every day.” It’s so obvious, and yet I sat there gob smacked, he was RIGHT. I’ve been giving my dogs the same exact Kong every single day!
Two of my four dogs are kenneled for 8 to 9 hours most weekdays, and when I leave I’ll give them a frozen Kong stuffed with a kibble/pumpkin mixture. Don’t get me wrong, my dogs LOVE their Kongs and stand in their kennels, begging me to leave so they can have their special snack. But man, it must be boring to eat the same kibble every day fed out of the same slow feeder, the same training treat, the same Kong, the same walks around the same neighborhood, etc. Yes, dog’s thrive off of routine and structure, but it’s important to mentally stimulate your pets, too!
After Mik’s seminar, I was feeling inspired. I already own an array of different Kongs so I went out and bought whatever I thought could fill them. I started experimenting with all sorts of vegetables—all of which my dogs gladly ate. Now we have Kongs stuffed with applesauce and carrots, spray cheese, peas, and kibble, frozen yam and peanut butter, blue berries and yogurt—If it’s safe for the dogs to eat, we’ll give it a try! I also tried filling their slow feeders with kibble & low sodium broth and freezing them overnight for a meal that’ll last at least an hour.
In a flight of fancy, I also bought some pet grass for the dogs, since in our desert setting, they rarely encounter it. When I brought it out, they all politely lined up and took huge mouthfuls like grazing cows!
I also recommend puzzle feeders to challenge your dogs, but don’t worry, you don’t have to run out to buy the latest and greatest. Some dogs are challenged by simply covering food with tennis balls in muffin tins or by putting food in a closed egg carton. All sorts of interactive toys can be made from recyclable materials! And for low cost you can make your own snuffle mat to really engage your dog’s nose! Enrichment is all about being resourceful, so start experimenting and having fun!