The benefits of mental exercise include tiring your dog out, yes really a good puzzle will tire your dog out quicker then a good walk in the park. It reduces stress, encourages them to think, ecourages learning and best of all it helps make your dog a healthy well balanced pooch mentally and emotionally too!
When I put together my dog Practically Perfect Dog Training classes for Puppies and Beginners one of the key things for me was to include a week on Enrichment.
In puppy class enrichment is part of confidence week, get the pups to explore cardboard boxes, walk on different surfaces, find food treats hidden in and around strange objects. All this is done with their Paw-parents showing them the way while giving the puppy all the time they need to think about and absorb whats going on.
This builds up the puppies confidence not only in exploring new items and textures under paw but it helps strengthen the pup / parent relationship.
This exercise is really lovely and fun to watch especially when the more nervous pups finally step into a cardboard box that only 10 minutes ago was really scary. For the more confident pups its a great brain game to tire them out. This part of puppy training is just as important as teaching them to sit or lie down on cue.
In Beginners class I love the look on the humans faces when I present them with a sniffing games, ‘we’re doing what now?’ as I hand them all a tea towel to roll up while hiding treats in there.
This about showing the paw-parents that sniffing is a vital part of their dogs life and that it can be a game between them both. Their dogs get excited sniffing out their treats and their parents get real joy seeing their dogs work.
During both classes I give each dog their very own Ruffle Snuffle Train’n’Treat™ ball to take home. Why do I do this? to ensure that the enrichment games continue to get played away from class and long after the 6 week course ends.
“I am a HUGE HUGE fan of enrichment toys for my own two lunatics Ally and Erick both Old English Sheepdogs. For those of you not in the know Enrichment toys are designed to provide your dog with mental exercise. Mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise and every dog needs it.”
Suzanne, Chief Canine Happiness Officer
What is a Ruffle Snuffle Train’n’Treat Ball?
Train’n’Treat™ balls are a wonderful product by Sarah White a behaviourist and trainer who owns Ruffle Snuffle® famous for her Snuffle Mats. Her British made Snufflemats are sturdy mats full of secured strips of fleece fabric that you can hide food in.
My Ally has her very own Ruffle Snuffle® mat in the Magic colourway, although I highly doubt she loves the bright colours as much as me. Ally does however love getting her Ruffle Snuffle Mat, it only comes out when she is being left on her own without Erick, it tires her out and curbs her need to steal the towels in my kitchen.
The Train’n’treat™ balls are very simply a ball version of the mats, you can still hide food in them and your dog not only has to sniff out the food but then work out how to get it. Best part is that they can be popped in the washing machine so they don’t end up horrible and smelly.
Games you can play with your Ruffle Snuffle Train’n’Treat Ball
These are the games I pass on to the humans to play with their Brand New Train’n’treat balls.
1. Quite simply as the name suggests use it as a treat after training practice. You could do 10mins of training then present the filled ball as your dogs reward. After training and sniffing you’ll have one tired dog.
2. If your dog knows how to ‘find’ or ‘search’ for treats in your home, your can fill the ball, hide it and ask your dog to find. They will sniff out the ball then have the task of emptying it.
3. Play fetch with it just like a normal toy. Show your dog that you have a single treat and hide it in the ball, throw it. Once your dog has it they will find the treat and then you can ask them to bring the ball back.
4. As it is small enough it can be taken with you when you go out for coffee or lunch, it will keep you dog busy while you enjoy your time out.
I always tell my paw-parents to keep their new Train’n’Treat™ balls as part of their training or as a reward for training, this keeps the ball a special treat for their dogs. If the balls are simply added to the dogs toy box then they will become a boring toy.
So hopefully you can see why I give these wonderful balls out in class, there is so much you and your dog can do with them. By working your pups nose and brain at the same time you’re providing their exercise routines with more variety, while strenghtening your bond.
What are you waiting for get out your Enrichment Toys and get playing with your dog. You can buy Train’n’Treat™ Balls here.
Thank you to our Guest Blogger Suzanne from Edinburgh Holistic Dogs
Suzanne has her own dog walking business Edinburgh Holistic Dog’s which she launched in 2017 where she provides unique ‘Adventure Filled Walks’. Her job as Chief Canine Happiness Officer is her dream job and it has given her a massive insight into all things dog related. Any working day sees Suzanne handle between 12 and 18 different dogs of all ages, sizes and shapes.