Lickimats are a great source of enrichment for dogs and conversely are also something that can help and hinder our relationships with dogs.
If you Google Lickimats there are many companies who recommend their own and which ones are the best and their reasoning as well as lots of signposting to: "If your dog has separation anxiety give them a lickimat whilst you go out to work."
This can be dangerous because as we know dogs are amazing chewers and leaving an item that is quite flimsy even the hard shell plastic ones can be potentially dangerous if chewed and swallowed. We know when dogs are anxious especially around separation anxiety they tend to chew items.
Another signpost was a lickimat for "dogs who are afraid of thunderstorms and or fireworks."
But again there is no explanation of how to use these items to help dogs nor an assessment to understand if this will work for your dog.
Another understanding we have is when dogs are scared and or over threshold they don't want to eat, some dogs will consume food because it has been presented to them and they want to be biddable or they have become habituated to being presented food in scary situations.
This conversely can become a predictor that if a lickimat is presented something scary is coming.
I love enrichment, all things enrichment and Lickimats are a tool I love. However my dogs enjoy Lickimats several times a week. For no particular reason other than it's a part of their holistic care routines. I love them and I want to see them happy.
So as a part of their holistic care they get puzzle toys, food enrichment, training one on one, walks, decompression walks, training walks, sniffafari walks, they have an enrichment garden, they have a scent wall and access to their toys unconditionally and without limits.
They are also able to sleep undisturbed as much as they like and where they like.
This is an holistic set up and no one action indicates something scary or anxiety inducing is going to happen.
We all have something no matter how confident we are and if we are lucky enough to not suffer with anxiety as a disorder that bothers us. That makes us feel anxious or something we find unpleasant we have to do.
For some people it's talking on the phone, it's social gatherings, speaking to a particular family member, work, paying bills, watching the news.
So if when we had to do something scary we were presented with our favourite food for example we would come to resent that food and see it as a predictor of this food has been given to me which means I now have to ensure this thing that makes me super nervous and uncomfortable.
So to use enrichment as intended and properly so our dogs can enjoy the benefits that enrichment specifically Lickimats for this blog give we have to ensure that we use them holistically and a part of their normal life.
Not because there's a thunderstorm, fireworks or your leaving for work.
For the full benefits of enrichment make enrichment a part of everyday or every other day as much as you can to help your dog enjoy the full benefits of enrichment.