Try the Bowl Free Challenge!
Updated: Feb 4, 2022
Did you know that many captive animals will choose to work for their food even when free food has been made available? This makes perfect sense if you consider the fact that most captive animals are under-stimulated while their wild cousins are hunting and exploring all day. Ecologists have thoroughly studied this phenomenon, called "Contrafreeloading," which is why many zoos now provide meal enrichment activities for their animals.
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Think about how your dog spends their day
They probably potty outside, go on a short walk, and hopefully get in some playtime each day. Their lives are pretty boring compared to their wild counterparts. The easiest and kindest thing we can do for our dogs is to ditch the bowl and replace it with a toy that will satisfy their desire to sniff, search, and interact with their environment.
Ditch the food bowl
Before you invest in a new toy, consider your dog's energy level and physical capabilities. Snuffle and Licki Mats are great for almost any dog to start with, but many dogs crave something a bit more challenging. I really love rubber Kongs because you can stuff them with soft food and freeze them for a longer-lasting activity. I have partnered with Chewy.com, which has a ton of different toys for you to choose from. Just click on either of the photos or highlighted products to be directed to Chewy.com.
Consider using your dog's food in a training session.
Every piece of food that your dog eats out of their food bowl is a lost opportunity to reinforce your dog for good behavior or to teach them something new. Replacing their meal with a training session will help you make training a habit.
Learn more about Contrafreeloading here: https://zoosnippets.com/post/the-contrafreeloading-concept-what-does-it-mean