This post is part of the Stale Cheerios 2014 holiday gift guide and giveaways series.
I have been reading a really great little book recently! It is called Beyond Squeaky Toys: Innovative ideas for eliminating problem behaviors and enriching the lives of dogs and cats (Amazon link). The book is all about enrichment and how environmental enrichment can be used to keep our dogs and cats mentally and physically happy.
The book is short, about 150 pages, but it is full of great information. It starts with several brief chapters that discuss the basics of enrichment, including what is enrichment and why it is important for pets. For those reading this post who aren’t familiar with the concept of enrichment, enrichment basically means any toy, item, or activity that provides mental stimulation and encourages natural, appropriate behaviors. Enrichment prevents boredom and helps keep pets out of trouble by providing mental stimulation, as well as opportunities to explore and interact with their environment.
Solving behavior problems proactively
The bulk of Beyond Squeaky Toys is a section that contains over 100 enrichment ideas. The really neat thing about enrichment is that it can eliminate problem behaviors or even prevent them from developing in the first place. A lot of unwanted dog and cat behaviors occur because the animal is bored and does not have appropriate ways to engage in what is really just normal dog or cat behavior. Learning about and implementing enrichment strategies helps owners be proactive, rather than reactive about their pet’s training and behavior.
The enrichment ideas in the book are divided into six big categories:
Social enrichment: Spending time with other animals and people in different environments. Examples: Visit an outdoor market, take your pet to work, or have a pool party with friends.
Cognitive enrichment: Training or other activities that encourage thinking and problem solving. Eamples: K9 nose work, teach your dog to find his toys by name, or train a new trick using clicker training.
Physical enrichment: Anything that changes or adds complexity to the animal’s living environment. Examples: Digging pit, outdoor cattery, or tactile boards.
Sensory enrichment: Items or activities that stimulate any of the five senses. Examples: Bubbles, herbs and spices, feathers, or going on a scent walk.
Feeding enrichment: Puzzles or games that make mealtime more challenging and fun. Examples: Kibble in a bottle, ice treats, or the muffin tin game.
Manipulative toy enrichment: Toys or other items that can be manipulated during investigation and play. Examples: Stuffed toys, remote and wind-up toys, wrapped gifts, or hanging toys.
Each idea gets a full page with a short description and several pictures. One thing that I loved about this book is that it includes enrichment ideas for both dogs and cats. There’s also such a variety of different enrichment ideas that I think the book could be used as well for enrichment ideas for other pets, such as rabbits, ferrets, or rats. Also, many of the ideas are things that you can easily make yourself or implement from everyday items and objects that you already have around the house.
Who should buy this book?
I had heard of many of the ideas in this book, but not all of them! I think this would be a great book for any dog or cat owner who is concerned about satisfying their pet’s mental, emotional, and physical needs. This would also be the perfect book for someone with a new puppy. New puppies are notoriously good at getting into trouble when they get bored! The book also includes a short section on safety at the beginning, which would be useful for pet owners who are new to the idea of enrichment.
As well, I think this would be a great book for professional trainers or more advanced trainers. Depending on your background, you might be familiar with quite a few of these ideas already. However, I think this could still be a useful book to keep on the bookshelf as a reference or to show to clients during lessons. The book is full of lots of great ideas that I think I will be able to use with my training clients and in my puppy socialization classes.
Would you like a copy of this book? (Book giveaway)
This giveaway is now closed. Thank you to all who entered!
I liked this book so much that I went ahead and bought a second copy, which I’ll be giving away on my blog this week!
If you would like a chance to win a copy of this book, simply leave a comment on this blog post sometime between now and December 1 that answers the following question:
What do you do to keep your pet(s) from getting bored?
I’ll use random.org to pick one comment at random on Dec 2.
If you’re interested in buying a copy of this book, it is available from both Amazon (link). and Dogwise (link). I think this book would also make the perfect gift for your favorite pet loving friend, neighbor who has a new puppy, veterinarian, animal rescue group, or public library.