I mentioned last week that I am working on plans to build a Sensory/Snuffle garden for my dogs. I am really excited about it – not only will this be a great place for my adult dogs to be able to spend some quiet, one on one time with me but, having a litter of naturally reared puppies due in April, this is going to really benefit them with sensory and physical enrichment as well as socialization!
So what is a Sensory/Snuffle Garden?
A Sensory/Snuffle Garden is a little space in your fenced yard that has areas with numerous different smells as well as textures, sights and sounds to engage all the senses and offer a place of peaceful, natural enjoyment for your dog(s).
Remember that the dog’s sense of “smell or scent” is his most developed sense – it vitally important to their understanding the world around them and is a big part of how they communicate with each other.
Dogs are sensitive and intelligent creatures – by denying them the opportunity to use their noses we are denying them the most basic part of their being. They truly need to use their nose to feel balanced and whole.
This use of their important sense of scent cannot be achieved if all they are able to do outside is to have fast walks or play fetch. What dogs need is nosework, brainwork, mental stimulation, problem-solving. This has been known since 1971 when Anders Hallgren first wrote on the subject of environmental enrichment, but even today too many of our canine companions are not able to experience any real mental stimulation apart from learning simple training commands.
The benefits of using a Sensory or Snuffle garden for both you and your dog:
A Snuffle Garden gives a dog the opportunity to move freely and explore with its nose without constraint. When taken to the sensory garden alone, she/he can go at their own pace without the stress of having other dogs around and without the normal busy surroundings of our hectic modern lives.
Your relationship with your dog will grow stronger as you share the experience together. Dogs love to be with their people and they will enjoy your joining in its exploration. Instead of seeing you as someone that stops them from realizing its true dog nature, they will instead, see you as a partner on their journey of discovery.
Your dog(s) will become smarter as she/he gains knowledge through scenting and its brain development will continue throughout its life. Scenting will lower levels of stress in a dog and helps to keep its immune system stronger, meaning you will have more years to enjoy being with this important member of your family.
Using a Sensory/Snuffle Garden will help your dog to relax and sleep better. It takes a lot more energy then you might think to process scent and giving the dog an hour of using its nose can leave the dog ready for a good snooze. It will also satisfy a primary canine behavior resulting in her/him being calmer and more content.
Sensory gardens may contain – safe, edible flowers, herbs, treats or toys hidden in a log or a tree hole, behind a rock, a water feature, wind chimes, you iPod or other means of playing classical music or the recording of running water or the ocean, activity tables and games. You can create an area of astro-turf, a digging pit or sand box, a wooden bark trough of water, a child’s crawling tunnel, a low swinging bridge, a wading or paddling pool – the sky’s the limit! Be creative and have fun. All of these provide mental stimulation and enjoyment for the dogs to sniff, see, feel/touch and hear.
There is a website titled: The Snuffle Garden Project that is all about building snuffle gardens in the city, this is an incredible idea and for those who live no yard to speak to of – you may want to begin a snuffle garden project of your own for you neighborhood. Check out their website today!
This article is the sole property of Dr. Jeanette (Jeannie) Thomason and The Whole Dog – for educational purposes only. It cannot be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the expressed written consent of the author.