Listed below are a few things which may be useful to consider and discuss with you clients, depending on the life stage of the dog;
Reduce the amount of daily food intake by about 10% to prevent them from gaining weight over times of shutdown, restricted exercise, following surgery or overweight dogs.
Increase the amount of times owners feed their dog as part of a feeding enrichment programme. Explain clearly to owners it's the same daily quantity of food divided into smaller meals. For example; if they feed once daily, feed twice daily instead; if they feed twice daily then feed three times. This enhances the feeding experience for dogs and fills their day with positive moments and gives them a feeling of "seity" (satisfied and happy). This is ideal for the senior dog, dogs recovering from surgery or overweight dogs.
Recommend that owners carefully weigh out their dogs daily amount of food. They can then split it into equal portions whether that may be two, three, or so on. If they are using treats during the day for training / rewards, make sure these are calculated from the daily ration.
Encourage owners to try different ways to feed their dogs and look beyond the bowl on the floor. “Feeding Enrichment” strategies are a great way for their dog to engage in their natural behaviours which in turn enhances their mental well being. The action of sniffing, licking and chewing slows the whole feeding process, meaning food lasts longer. From a therapists view point that means dogs are balancing in a natural posture for a longer time.
Licking and chewing releases the chemicals serotonin and endorphins from the brain. This leads to a reduction in stress and the dog feeling more relaxed and comfortable and exhibiting positive behaviours.
Canine Movement Enrichment
Canine Movement Enrichment = Therapeutic Handling x Clinic Enrichment Techniques.
Understand the importance of introducing canine clinic enrichment strategies in your therapeutic session. These activate the canine proprioceptive system and the dog's conscious mediation to actively participate with the therapist, in a calm, focused and actively engaged manner.
We know this improves movement and function in the dog and can be a useful part of your therapy session, offering a holistic approach to improving the dog's natural balanced motion.
What is Clinic Enrichment?
Clinic Enrichment (CE) techniques are a fusion of environmental, behavioural and movement enrichment in a canine clinical setting. It's a way to positively influence the dog's movement and behaviours in your therapy clinic setting.
CE is not just about a collection of equipment or the layout of the clinic. The therapist uses CE to reason out how to use the clinical space and equipment, linked to their own body posturing and movement decisions. This aims to optimise the clinic environment and positively engage the dog's proprioceptive system (PS) which is the command centre for canine movement and power.
Integrating the canine proprioceptive system and canine behaviours of each dog in a clinic context, results in therapists utilising a range of techniques to enrich the clinic and therefore positively influence the dog's movement patterning and behaviours.
TASK: Consider a few different Clinic Enrichment techniques to use as part of your canine therapy. Build a mind map or bullet list with your ideas and thoughts to discuss on your practical session at K9HS.
These enrichment techniques can be shared with owners. They find them extremely useful along with advice on raising feeding devices and water bowels, to optimise natural balanced stance and motion.
Top Tip: Feeding enrichment linked to Clinical Enrichment techniques are easy to show and share with your owners, offering a more complete session to the dogs in your professional care.
Check out the 3 pictures and video below and observe their functional postures and slight postural adjustments whilst feeding and drinking.
The first picture on the left is of a 16 year old Border Collie eating from her raised, slow feeding bowl. This is where there are small compartments for the food to be shared around and results in the dog enjoying the feeding experience.
The second picture shows an example of a dog drinking from a raised bowl. There are a number of ways you can do this for example using a manufactured food / water bowl stand or raise it on a step.
The third picture in the bottom left shows a 4 year old Working Border Collie eating from his "Interactive Green Feeder". The food is scattered across the "Green" and the dog enjoys the challenge of pushing the food out between the "blades" of grass.
The video on bottom right shows dogs eating from their different interactive feeders.
Remember mental stimulation is much more tiring than physical exercise. "10 minutes of brain work is equivalent to 1 hour of physical exercise."
Recommend to vary the times of their dog walk during the day. Think about the different scents that there are at different times of the day and seasons.
Encourage owners to allow dogs time to sniff, especially the older dog who is unable to walk so far. Dogs use their own sort of scent “pee-mail” system between each other, to inform them of the world around them.
This is a completely natural canine behaviour.
Check out the articles below about canine sniffing and why it's so important to dogs.
This K9HS Practical Hub was produced for you and is owned by K9HS Courses.