Behavior Tip of the Month
Imagine you are surrounded by the same four walls day after day. You are alone, with no TV, no computer and nothing to do. This solitary confinement is the punishment we mete out to our worst criminals. Do your pets deserve such treatment? Of course they don't. However, many of our pets are subjected to solitary confinement on a daily basis. This is a consequence of our modern society. Most people work outside the home and are gone for many hours. We can't let our dogs run free, so they stay home, bored with nothing constructive to do. Certainly, there are many destructive activities to occupy their time, such as barking, urinating, digging, chewing and escaping.
Dogs, just as humans, need a job. In the wild, dogs spent most of their day hunting for food. We can provide "the hunt" right in our own homes. How do we do this? Here is what Dr. Ian Dunbar, an internationally known veterinary behaviorist, suggested at the recent Tufts Animal Expo. He said our dogs should not eat their meals from a bowl. Rather, they should only receive food in stuffed toys. Here are the steps he suggested:
1. Buy hollow rubber toys, such as Kongs or Tuffies
2. Soak your dog's kibble in water for 30 minutes
3. Stuff the hollow rubber toys with the kibble mixture
4. Put the stuffed rubber toys in the freezer overnight
5. Before you leave for work, hang the Kongs by a bungee cord from trees, crates, ceiling hooks, etc. They should hang upside down so your dog can barely reach them.
It will take him many hours to jump for his food. This way exercise, play, and mealtime last all day.
I never put food into a bowl for my dogs. They only get food when I'm gone. Therefore, they look forward to my leaving. It's a great feeling to leave home "guilt-free". It's also wonderful to come home to an undamaged house, with no complaints about barking from irate neighbors.
Try following Dr. Dunbar's suggestions. Hopefully, neither you nor your dog will ever feel punished again when your pet is home alone.
Best Friend Behavior Counseling and Training
San Diego, Ca.
"Positively teaching pets and their people since 1977"
Do you have a question for Carole? You can reach her at this email address - firstname.lastname@example.org Perhaps she will use it in an upcoming article on this Web site.
The information contained on this site is in no way intended to replace that of proper veterinary advice, diagnosis or treatment.
It is meant to provide resource, so that we can better understand canine health related issues.