Winging It - Food for Thought
I think the "off season" is really frustrating for sled dogs. Generally the weather is either too hot, or too sloppy, to safely run the dogs so there is little for them to do. Researchers have determined that adequate psychological stimulation is as important to a dog's mental health as is having adequate space in which to engage in species typical behaviors. I've put a lot of thought and work into making my dogs' environment as stimulating as I can.
One of the "little things" I do during their breakfast feeding seems to be very helpful. During warm weather, when I can keep fresh water available 24/7, I try to enrich their breakfast experience by winging it. I literally toss each dog his or her morning ration of dry kibble across the pen or circle. This requires the dogs to sniff out each individual kibble which they willingly and enthusiastically do. It requires each dog to put his or her nose and brain to work, seeking out and capturing each little morsel before scarfing it down. In order to fill their stomachs, they have to put their brains and their noses to work.
Winging it is only one part of our kennel enrichment methods. You can learn more about our efforts to provide the dogs a stimulating environment by visiting the "Stardancer Kennel" page of our website.