Monday, October 17, 2016

Paw5 Enriched Life Challenge Day 1: Playdate!

Paw5's Enriched Life Challenge has begun! We are kicking things off with a playdate and some fun DIY projects. I built some wall shelves for the cats, and we visited some friends for tea and tennis balls. None of these projects was elaborate or time-consuming, but all of them added some major value to everyone's day. Here's what we did:


Doggy playdate!Ru the chihuahua doesn't get to go with me to as many classes or events as Godzilla and Zip, so a playdate with friends provides him with some much-needed social enrichment. We went to visit my human friend Kim, her dogs Penny and Ernie, and her cats Freya, Hoshi, Martian, Chulla, and Pluto. Kim lives at the top of a mountain, and the chance to run through the woods provides an enormous amount of sensory and environmental enrichment. Ernie, Godzilla, and Zip spent our visit racing wildly after tennis balls, while Ru hung out with Penny and visited with the kitties.

There is so much for the dogs to do at Kim's house! They love to search through the woods for forgotten tennis balls, and splash around in the pond. Since there are no busy roads up there, and the dogs all stick close to me, they get a whole lot of freedom to play and explore. We did a little bit of property maintenance while we were out, and even ran into some neighbors and their three dogs! Kim sent us home with some nice fresh catnip for the Hellions, along with some freshly-picked limes and persimmons. I got some catnip seeds too, so hopefully I can grow my own!
Providing cats with vertical space

Cat Shelves

Paw5's Enriched Life Challenge is all about making your dog's life even better, but I wanted to include my cats too. Indoor life can get pretty boring, and cats most definitely benefit from enrichment! James and Solstice have had their share of dried catnip before, but today I'm providing them with some sensory enrichment in the form of freshly-picked catnip. This was a totally new experience for all of us, and I was hoping they'd get a bit silly with it. I was slightly disappointed when they both gobbled it down like every other plant they'd ever encountered.

For environmental enrichment, I installed some wall shelves for the Hellions. These provide them with some much-needed vertical space for climbing, jumping, and just hanging out. They have a litterbox station on one side of the room, and a feeding station on a windowsill on the other side. The shelves now link the two areas and allow them to travel from one to the other without ever touching the ground.
Environmental enrichment for cats

The shelves are attached to the walls via various brackets. The smaller ones are mounted with drywall anchors, the largest is screwed directly into the wall studs. I cut up a rubber-backed non-skid rug and used a staple gun to attach it to the shelves for traction. I hung a total of four shelves, and the entire project took less than an hour. My shelves are sort of a hodgepodge of things we had in the garage, but decorative brackets are easy to find and shelves can be purchased or painted to match any decor. 


On Day 1 of Paw5's Enriched Life Challenge, my dogs had a wonderful outing and playdate that provided all three with social, environmental, and sensory enrichment. My cats got a new sensory experience nibbling/devouring some fresh catnip for the first time. They also got a big new environmental source of enrichment from their new wall shelves. We didn't quite follow any of Paw5's daily plans, but I think we're getting into the spirit of the challenge anyway!

How are you providing enrichment for your pets this week?

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