Scatter feeding is one of the simplest enrichment activities. If you do canine enrichment already, you probably do scatter feeding but there is always an opportunity to break out of set patterns and make tweaks to keep things interesting.
Why scatter feed: It is so easy to do and keeps the dog entertained for a sustained period (depending on the challenge level). It also gives them an outlet to express their innate need to snuffle about in the undergrowth! My spaniel absolutely loves snuffling about in the grass for his food. It can slow down fast eaters, which is extremely important in helping prevent bloat.
- Busy people – it’s perfect if you’re busy in the mornings and want to enable concurrent activity! I often scatter feed while I make my food as I can watch him out of the kitchen window.
- Times you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed and just want a thinking-free go-to.
How-to: Using a handful or more of your dog’s food, scatter it over a safe area for them to seek out. Grassy areas are great. If you have a very small lawn that your dog uses as a toilet, you can scatter along garden walkways, patio areas, rockeries etc.
Troubleshoot: If you don’t have a garden, you can use a safe balcony, hard surface such as the kitchen floor or lay sheets of cardboard down in your house. If you need any help to make the activities work for you, feel free to ask in the group.
If you already scatter feed, how can you mix it up?
- You can increase the challenge by leaving an area of longer grass as a scatter spot, increasing the area you scatter over or using varied terrain such as walkways, rockeries etc.
- On the flip side, if your dog isn’t a real sniffy dog (e.g. particular dogs will really take to this – working breeds, hounds etc), you can start by scattering on short grass in a small area and sitting with them, encouraging them to find it.
- Add in different food items for extra enrichment. If you feed kibble, this could include small chunks of dog-safe food. This could be chunks of cucumber, cooked sweet potato etc, pieces of boiled egg, scraps of meat etc.
- You can also scatter feed on a low-energy walk (leash-only for those that don’t do low-energy walks!). I stop and scatter feed in small quantities during leash walks to help my spaniel calm down.
What creative ways can you think of to scatter feed?