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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Enrichment For Captive Animals

Did you know that we dogs (and our sometimes buddies), cats, are considered "captive" animals by some humans even though we're technically "domesticated"? We're considered "captive" because we're not allowed to roam freely in the outdoors, doing whatever we please, including foraging for food. Most of our day is spent indoors with or without our humans. In other words, we're not nurturing our biological instincts just by "being".

Now, I think that overall, this is a good thing. I lived for a short while outdoors and believe me, it wasn't a ton of fun: dodging cars, rummaging through trash cans for food, sleeping on the cold ground, blah, blah, blah.

But studies have shown that because we're lucky enough to have our basic needs met by our humans, we need some extra cognitive stimulation. Humans have been doing this for years with our captive cousins in zoos, and fairly recently, that idea has made its way into products for dogs and cats.

Remember our Premier toy give-a-way that included a few products from their line of enrichment toys like the Biscuit Bouncer and Squirrel Dude and our Kyjen Toy give-a-way that included the Paw Hide Puzzle?

Parental Unit and I are firm believers that these kinds of "toys"(where, basically, we have to figure out how to get to the food), are necessary to keep us mentally stimulated and happy. There's no time to be bored in our world! So we'll be writing about these and related issues in the coming weeks and months, including hosting some guest bloggers, so please stay tuned!

In the meantime, we'll leave you with this cool video from the Bronx Zoo, where Squirrel Monkeys are encouraged to "forage" for their beloved blueberries-enjoy!


Lucy-Fur, as typed by Dr. Liz said...

We're all into the stimulation of mentals; Mom does all sorts of sneaky things like hiding treats, using those puzzle toys, and those things (like a squirrel one) where we pull little stuffies out of a big stuffie. She also takes us to places (like Home Depot) to get us used to different places and different people. We can't wait to read all the exciting stuff you are going to be posting on!

*kissey face*
-Fiona and Abby the Hippobottomus

Marg said...

I live way out in the country and far away from the road, so most of mine go out. Funny how you wrote this today with me writing about BB staying inside. She does get out in the rest of the house and mingles with the other cats that are inside. I think it is just her heart and has bad days every once in awhile. Thanks so much for your comment.

Kirby, CGC said...

Aww the monkeys are so cute! Kirby and I are also big believers in exercising your mentals! Kirby is loving the paw hide puzzle. The shelter I volunteer at is getting into the mental stimulation big time and it is having a good effect on the dogs. There is definitely something to this! Nice post!

Kirby's mom

Tucker The Crestie said...

Great post! Environmental enrichment is really important.

Amber said...

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Lorenza said...

My mom has been thinking on making me work for my food! Hmmm... I am not so sure I will do it well.
Kisses and hugs

Duke said...

How smart those monkeys are to find the blueberries through all of that jello!

Love ya lots
Maggie and Mitch

Unknown said...

Am I a 'captive'? I thought my humans are my 'captives'!

Oskar said...

My mom person has been wanting to get me more mental stimulation toys, so we look forward to reading about them.

Nubbin wiggles,

Helen said...

We have gotten to the point where Spike prefers to get his kibble through his puzzles rather than just eating out of the bowl!

Marie said...

Well, according to an informal poll of the family "pets" -- 2 or the 4 cats feel we could improve in the area of mental stimulation (although Joel Gray refused to wake up long enough to answer so we're not sure if he counts or not), the only dog (Lady) said she feels sufficiently challenged and the 2 guinea pigs -- well, we're still trying to translate what they said.

New follower enjoying my first visit to your blog!

Kolchak Puggle said...

We have a Doggy Casino, A Seek-A-Treat, lots of Egg Babies and a Steggin' Egg that we get all of our kibbles served in. Mom was afraid my brother Felix wouldn't be interested in these games, but he loves them! We can't wait to read more and maybe discover some more pawesome toys!

Sage said...

I have three different things that my kibble comes in. Some are REALLY easy though. Mom thinks it's a good thing that our minds have to work. I just like the kibble!!

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