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Environmental Enrichment - service dogs at Fjellanger Dog Training Academy

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Published on Dec 3, 2009

Tassen (Springer spaniel) and Cosmo (working lab) are enjoying to manipulate, taste and play with a large root vegetable (suede). Objects like these are only part of our program for environmental enrichment. Other examples are that all dogs are allowed to interact and play with the other dogs, we provide different unfamiliar scents to the environment, frozen lumps of ice with food items inside, training for work, but also training for educational purposes, a off-leash walk in the woods in the morning, hiding of food at difficult places etc.

The goal of environmental enrichment is to improve an animal's quality of life by increasing physical activity, stimulating natural behaviors, and preventing or reducing neural disorders including stereotypical behaviors.

Any novel stimulus which evokes an animal's interest can be considered enriching, including natural and artificial objects, scents, novel foods, and different methods of preparing foods (for example, frozen in ice). Most enrichment stimulus can be divided into six groups:

Sensory: this category stimulates animals' senses: visual, olfactory, auditory, tactile, and taste.
Feeding: this is how keepers make feeding time fun and challenging. Different methods of food presentation encourage animals to think and work for their food as they would in the wild.
Manipulative Toys: these are items that can be manipulated in some way via feet, head, mouth, teeth etc. simply for investigation and exploratory play.
Environmental: change or add complexity to the environment.
Social: the opportunities to interact with other animals.
Training: training animals with exclusively positive reinforcement (also the service dog training)

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