By Barbara Bingham Deutscher, CPBT, CPBC
Harmony Animal Behavior
Barbara Bingham Deutscher, CPBC, CPBT – Behavior, Training, Consultation
“Enrichment (noun) – act of making fuller or more meaningful or rewarding”.
“The opposite of enrichment is impoverishment and entrapment.”
Animals in the wild constantly think and make choices to behave for a purpose that is important to them.
Why do we believe it is kind and loving to hand the animal in our home everything they might want?
…making every decision for them? …insisting they obey our “commands”?
How enjoyable would your life be if you did not have to work -- or go shopping for food (or tend your garden)
AND you were confined to ONE ROOM ––– WITHOUT CHOICES!
ALL animals behave to HAVE AN EFFECT ON OUR ENVIRONMENT.
Give your animal interesting opportunities to play, forage, think, learn = to USE THEIR BEHAVIOR (and their brain and body!).
The freedom to explore and make one's own decisions is priceless! To interact with other beings. To learn and to behave for desired consequences.
We all behave for a reason.
OFFERING YOUR ANIMAL OPPORTUNITIES TO THINK, TO LEARN, AND TO USE THEIR BEHAVIOR IS KEY TO THEIR QUALITY OF LIFE!
BEHAVIORAL ENRICHMENT – giving the animal an opportunity to use their behavior to gain something they want.
Behavioral enrichment includes learning with Positive Reinforcement.
Positive Reinforcement strengthens behavior you wish to see repeated by adding something the animal likes as a consequence for choosing to behave “correctly”.
Positive Reinforcement is a natural WIN-WIN for both your animal and you!
Positive reinforcement is enriching for everyone!
SOCIAL ENRICHMENT – extremely important – always observing the individual(s) to be sure they are having a safe and enjoyable experience.
(For dogs: Check out the free dog park posters from the IAABC.)
Enrichment = offering your animal an interesting environment with opportunities to use their behavior and body and brain. There are many enriching toys and foraging puzzles available for purchase or use your imagination to create your own games and items.
The choice to interact with the environment is enriching without frills and expense.
VARIETY: With five senses to enrich, there are so many chances and choices… watch your individual animal(s) to see what they prefer. Continue to offer different choices as every individual's tastes, moods, and experience change in the moment or day or as we continue to mature.
>>>ALWAYS BE AWARE OF SAFETY when using or creating enrichment!<<<
- HEAR: AUDITORY – Stimulating or soothing.
- SMELL: OLFACTORY – #1 sense for dogs! Use special caution with birds!
- SEE: VISUAL – Being sensitive to avoid fear or over-arousal.
- TASTE: APPETITIVE – includes food acquisition.
- TOUCH: TACTILE – includes digging, chewing, different textures, etc.
ENRICHMENT… Even a few minutes a day can make a huge difference in the quality of life for the animal(s) in your care!