In light of the Halloween season, Animal Friends is again providing some not-so-spooky enrichment for its shelter residents based on this ghoulish holiday. Our eerily creative Animal Enrichment Specialist, Suzanne Denk, cooked up a “Halloween Enriched Environment Trail” for our shelter dogs this past weekend!
The first stop on the trail was a pool of leaves, with hidden tasty treats, requiring dogs to use their noses to find them. Another scent game included sealed boxes with holes to tempt canine noses. Fresh hay, herbs and apple cinnamon air fresheners were hidden inside the boxes.
Spooky hanging obstacles (pool noodles) were used as a confidence builder for our shyer shelter residents (you can also stick treats in the hollow end of the pool noodle to entice shy dogs to approach).
Many made a quick stop at the festive Jack-o-Lantern duck pond and then it was on to the final stop of the trail – The Magic Potion Cheese Tree. Treats were stuck to the tree with a bit of cheese for the dog to sniff out and find.
The goal of enrichment is to provide a daily environment that is varied and stimulating and to allow the animals to engage in natural behaviors. Enrichment activities that engage all of the animals’ senses are beneficial to their physical and behavioral health. The activities provide opportunities to think and to explore space – therefore providing a sense of control to shelter animals. More importantly, stimulating their brains reduces stress and is fun!