Enrichment Activities

Enrichment is very important for the mental well being of our pets. I recommend that my clients ditch the dog food bowls (and cat food bowls too!) and use a variety of food puzzles for their pets’ meals, whether they have a dog, a cat, horse, parrot, bunny, or ferret. Giving our pets the opportunity to engage their brain and senses to find food reduces behavioural issues, tires them out, and engages their seeking systems which leads to feelings of well being and contentment. Studies have shown that animals prefer to work for their food as opposed to it being offered to them; this is known as contrafreeloading.

As with all new activities/games/behaviours, we start at an easy level to encourage the animal and build confidence, then increase the difficulty; otherwise they may get frustrated and quit.

Muffin Tin Game

You’ll need:

-1 muffin tin (to hide the food in)

-Handful of yummy food (to place in the muffin tin)

-12 toys/balls/pieces of fabric to cover the food in the muffin tin *Make sure your pet won’t ingest the toys/balls/fabric!! Supervise while they play this game!

To play:

-Put a piece of food or a treat in a few of the cups. Offer it to your pet so they can see the food, and let them get the pieces out.

-Next, put treats in a few different cups, cover them up with a ball or toys or fabric, and let your pet use their nose to sniff them out, and then work out how to get to the treats underneath.

-Once you can see that your pet has figured out to win the game, you can put treats in a few of the cups in the tin, but cover all of the cups up (even the empty ones), and let your pet work it out.

Egg cartons are great to use for this game too! If your pet won’t ingest the carton pieces, you can close the carton and let your pet rip it apart. Make sure to supervise!

Blanket Game

You’ll need:

-1 or more blankets/sheets

-Pieces of treats/food

To Play:

-Put blanket on floor and scatter treats over top of it. Loosely crumple it up, then let your dog use their nose to find the food. As your dog gets better at this game, you can crumple the blanket up more tightly, or add layers of blankets/sheets to make it more challenging.

Yoga Mat Game

You’ll need:

-1 old yoga mat

-Pieces of food or treats

To play:

-First session, place a couple pieces of treats on the unrolled yoga mat, and let your pet eat them.

-Roll the mat back up, leaving a few inches exposed; put treats on the exposed section, then roll the rest of the mat back over to cover them.

-Let your pet have access to the mat, and watch them work out how to get the treats using their face or paws to push the mat open.

-Increase the difficulty over time, until you’ve used the whole length of the mat.

Paper Towel or Toilet Paper Roll

You’ll need:

-1 inner cardboard tube from a paper towel or toilet paper roll

-Pieces of food or treats
*make sure your pet doesn’t eat the cardboard!!

To play:

-First session, place some yummy food in the roll, and place it on the ground to let your pet explore it.

-You can probably then pick it up and do another session right away, but this time lightly fold the ends of the tube over.

-As your pet is more proficient at opening the ends, you can increase the difficulty by folding the ends over multiple times. This will encourage them to use their teeth more, so make sure you are present and observing them while they play this game, to make sure they don’t ingest it!

As you can see from this video, kitties love it too! This is Marco, working for his breakfast

<p>Working on our dog parkour. Chloe in front of the marina, with her luxurious flowing fur <3</p>


What is a KONG? It is a rubber food dispensing toy that has one small opening on the small end, and a larger opening on the big end. It is perfect to stuff food into so the dogs have to work to get the food out. It keeps them occupied, works their brain, and slows down food consumption.

Before giving any “human” food, please make sure you read the ingredients and check that it is safe for your pup, and take into consideration any dietary restrictions your particular dog has. Xylitol is a non-sugar sweetener that is making its way into a lot of food these days, and it is EXTREMELY toxic to dogs!

-Make sure you choose a KONG that is size appropriate for you dog, and is appropriate for their chewing strength (red is for average chewers, black is for more enthusiastic chewers…there are also puppy KONGs). 

-Introduce the KONG to your dog by smearing a small amount of soft food such as peanut butter, canned dog food, or yogurt inside and letting them lick it out. The reason we start with the easier stuffing is to prevent frustration. 

-Next time you can fill it with food.

-Then you can move onto frozen stuffed KONGs! Making sure to smear a softer food such as honey or peanut butter all over the inside, then freeze it, then layering more food in, then cramming a hard biscuit in and freezing it again will create a very long lasting KONG

                                   Food to stuff KONGs

-peanut butter -applesauce -yogurt -cream cheese- rice -apple -banana -turkey -cooked pasta -baby food -canned dog food - chicken -scrambled eggs -cheese -pumpkin puree -canned meat -potatoes (without the skin -kibble soaked in low sodium broth -Cheez Whiz -squeeze cheese -prepared KONG stuffers

For more info, or to book a consult, contact me via Facebook or my site



Choosing a Pet Sitter

Going on vacation is supposed to be a time to relax, kick back, and forget the worries of everyday life. However, many pet guardians have a hard time relaxing when they are away from their furry, finned, or feathered friend.

This is where choosing a professional pet sitter comes in; it can be a daunting task. Do you go with the cheapest option? The most expensive? Live in sitter? Drop in visits?

Here’s a few tips to help you in the process

1) Ask friends and family for names of professional pet sitters they have used; ask the staff at your vet’s office, or your groomer; look on pet professional websites such as Vancouver Island Animal Training Association, The Pet Professional Guild, or Dog*Tec.

2) Look for a professional who has a valid business license to pet sit (especially important if they are boarding/pet sitting in their home!), and is insured. Ask for a copy of what their insurance covers and the values. Make sure the insurance is valid if they are caring for pets in their home!

3) Ask for references.

4) Read the pet sitter’s website. Find out what their experience and education in pet care is. Look for courses such as the Dog Trainer Foundations Course from Karen Pryor Academy or the dog walker course from Dog*Tec.

5) Arrange a meeting in your home so you can observe how the person interacts with your pet, and how your pet reacts to them.

6) Ask the pet sitter what they would do if your pet starts doing undesirable behaviours, such as jumping up or pulling while on leash. Good answers would be: ask the dog to a behaviour incompatible with that behaviour, such as sit instead of jump or stop moving while the dog is pulling and only move forward when there is slack in the leash. Avoid sitters (and dog walkers and trainers!) who use punishment. The application of punishment and dominance theory is linked to behaviour issues, ruins the bond and trust with the pet, and increases aggressive behaviour. Here’s the link to the American Society of Veterinary Animal Behaviorists position statement on the use of punishment: https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Punishment_Position_Statement-download_-_10-6-14.pdfAnswers you don’t want to hear are: knee the dog in the chest, spray it in the face with water, or jerk/pop the leash.

7) Ask the pet sitter if they have another job, and if they do, consider how this may affect the level of care your pet receives. How long will your pet be left alone each day/at a time? Also important to consider is if the sitter does drop in visits: how long between each visits, when is their last drop in of the night, and when is the first visit in the morning?

8) Does the pet sitter use subcontractors or employees? Or will it be themselves who will be caring for your pet/home? Will their spouse, children, or friends be doing any of the pet care? Are these people bonded and insured? What are THEIR qualifications?

9) Transparency in the pet sitter’s handling/training methods is very important. Look for professional affiliations (make sure they are full professional members!) such as Vancouver Island Animal Training Association or the Pet Professional Guild. Professional membership to these organizations requires members to sign a code of ethics and to be vetted by another professional member in good standing, and to use only humane, reward based, science backed methods.

For more help or to book a consult, contact me via my site or Facebook