Easter Egg Hunting Has Gone to The Dogs!

Easter egg hunt with zoo animals and pets_dogs easter ideas

April 2015

What are you doing for Easter??  We are going to have an Easter Egg hunt with our dogs! No joke.

I am writing this the day before Easter, before we do it, because I am hoping to inspire you to do the same with your family!

Here’s the idea behind it:  If you have been following this blog, you know that I used to be an Enrichment Coordinator at the Audubon Zoo so I am crazy passionate about enrichment at home with pets!  Most people don’t realize that all animals in every kind of captivity need environmental enrichment, whether they live in a zoo, shelter, sanctuary, or your home.

So today, we are going to show you why your pets need daily enrichment,  and why an Easter egg hunt is just the ticket!


PicMonkey Collage

What Enrichment Does

Studies have shown that when animals are given an enriched, stimulating environment (a variety of things to do, smell, and explore) they live longer, are better adjusted, more relaxed, better able to develop problem-solving skills, and they remember what they learn.  This directly relates to your dogs at home!  Bored animals are easily frustrated, and frustration can lead to destruction.  You can avoid boredom, obesity, and wanton destruction by enriching your pet’s life!

Enrichment at Home Will Help To:

  • Curb boredom and restlessness
  • Reduce frustration
  • Reduce destructive behaviors
  • Increase natural behaviors (foraging, hunting, using their exquisite senses in a healthy way)
  • Increase their health and longevity
  • Teach you new ways to engage and play with your animal companion

 

Science Insights

study showed that when dogs solved a problem and earned a reward they wagged their tails more.  These dogs were also more likely to try to solve the problem again, rather than if they were just given a reward.  The study also found that food was a preferred reward, compared to spending time with another dog, or being petting by a familiar human.

So what does this research mean for you and your dog?  It means that when you give your dog a healthy challenge (like searching for a hard boiled egg in the backyard – hint hint) your dog is going to be so excited to use all of his/her dog senses to solve the problem of finding the hidden egg!  Your dog is going to go bonkers with excitement that he/she was able to hunt down those eggs!


Dog DNA

Hunting and foraging are in your dog’s DNA. This is something they need to do. And it’s healthy for them!  Dogs have evolved over thousands of years. They once relied on their hunting and foraging skills to feed their families and themselves.  This helped to exercise not only their bodies but their minds.  Much of a dog’s time was spent foraging for food, or preparing for the hunt.

hunting squirrels dog foraging and hunting behavior
Hocus smelling and searching for squirrels

 


What Does Your Dog Need?

Most family dogs are lounging around the house, bored out of their minds!  And dog obesity is on the rise.  The family dog is not receiving enough daily mental and physical “foraging and hunting” like their early ancestors did. All dogs need enrichment. – Dogs of all ages and stages:

  •  Do you have a dog with a lot of excess energy? This is a great way to provide mental and physical stimulation!
  •  Is your dog sedentary or overweight? This is a great game to encourage your plump pup to get moving!
  • Do you have a senior dog that has slowed down? This is an easy game to help your senior dog feel alive again and stretch those old bones and muscles!

It is very easy to watch our senior dogs or cats lie around snoozing. They look so content and they have done so much for us. But you would be surprised what good a little exercise will do your senior – how it can improve quality of life and perhaps even slow the progression of aging, including the advancement of dog arthritis.

Exercise stimulates all tissues as it increases blood flow. Tissues become oxygenated and toxins are removed from them more readily. In addition, exercise helps bowel function enormously. This is especially important in older pets.


easter egg hunt with pets and zoo animals

Easter Egg Hunts at the Zoo

Back in the day during my Zoo Days I used to go into an animal’s exhibit before we let them out in the morning. I would would hide various food items or novel toys.  Around Easter I would do this with any species that loved to eat eggs. This could be anything from a ferret to a Komodo Dragon.  The idea was to hide the eggs, and let the animal’s senses help him or her to “hunt down” the egg.  It was always a riot to watch them search for the raw or hard boiled goodie, and the visitors loved being able to see animals behaving in a way that particular species would behave naturally in the wild.

This is what enrichment does; it promotes natural behaviors!

easter egg_komodo_reptiles_dragon

 

Animal enrichment promotes naturalistic behaviors that stimulate the mind and increases physical activity.


How You Can Have an Easter Egg Hunt with Your Dog

You are probably wondering, what does a Komodo dragon have to do with my dog?  A lot actually.  Everything I just described can be duplicated at home with your dog! I will walk you through it.

Imagine an animal’s outdoor exhibit at a zoo.  Now imagine your backyard.

Imagine me hiding eggs for various species while the animal was still inside their indoor enclosure.  Now think about where you can hide eggs in your yard while your dog is inside the house.

Imagine what an Orangutan, Komodo, or ferret did when we let them outside into their exhibit and they began looking for the eggs.  Now think about what it will be like when you finally let your dog outside into the backyard to search for the eggs!

Imagine the excitement on the visitor’s faces when they watch the zoo animals searching for the eggs and gobbling them up.  Now think about how fun this will be for your kids and family to watch your dog do the same with eggs in your backyard!


🥚Hounds Hunting for Eggs!🥚

The egg hunt was a success!🥚 You can watch Hocus Pocus and her best bud, Annie, in action here: 

VIDEO: “Easter Egg Hunting Has Gone to The Dogs!”

Note: Our dog (Hocus Pocus) is the canine without a collar (for safety).  The other dog (black German Shepard) is our neighbor’s dog, Annie, a very sweet girl.  They are best buds.  In this video, we are at our neighbor’s backyard.

 


Egg Tips

  • Boil the eggs, then make sure they are cooled to room temperature before you hide them in the yard. (Don’t dye the eggs.)
  • Peel some of the eggs, but leave the shell on some. Or just peel a portion of the egg.
  • If you have kids, let them hide the eggs! This is a great way for kids to be involved in the game! This game allows everyone to play safely together.
  • Don’t feed too many eggs at once. One or two is a good start if your dog has never had a hard boiled egg.

(We have 2 dogs doing the egg hunt. They have eaten hard boiled eggs before, so each dog will get 3 eggs.)

free range eggs for dogs

Questions or concerns about feeding your dog eggs? 

Read HERE and HERE


🥚HAPPY HUNTING!🥚


P.S. This can be modified for other companion animals who LOVE to eat eggs or egg yolks!  Think about how you can encourage your ferret, iguana, etc. to have an Easter Egg Hunt at home! 


P.P.S Got a senior cat who needs some fun physical and mental stimulation? Check out this video:  Wake & Hunt!

Conscious Companion ®

Spare a Rabbit. Say NO to Bunnies this Easter

Spare a Rabbit by Saying NO to Bunnies this Easter

Many cherished Easter traditions, from the Easter bunny to decorating and hunting for eggs, have been around for centuries.   Let’s begin with the infamous Easter Bunny.   The exact origin of this mythical mammal is unclear.   There’s no story in the Bible about a long-eared, cotton-tailed creature.   Nor is there a passage about young children painting eggs or hunting for baskets overflowing with delicious Easter goodies.   And real rabbits certainly don’t lay eggs.   However rabbits, because they are prolific procreators, are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life.   Easter eggs are linked back to centuries of traditions.  The egg, also an ancient symbol of new life, has been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring.  From a Christian perspective, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and resurrection.

Bunnies, eggs, Easter gifts and fluffy, yellow chicks in gardening hats all stem from pagan roots
Bunnies, eggs, and Easter gifts stem from pagan roots. They are ancient symbols for fertility and new life

The origin of the Easter Bunny can be traced back to 13th-century pre-Christian Germany
The origin of the Easter Bunny can be traced back to 13th-century pre-Christian Germany

Fast forward to this century. So many parents buy rabbits for their children for Easter, many of whom do not even know the history behind these long eared lagomorphs.  Our culture is filled with images of children and rabbits, so most parents see rabbits as low-maintenance starter pets for kids.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  

Before you fill your Easter basket with a live bunny, find out what is involved with caring for this complicated animal companion. 

easter_eggs
Consider getting a special painted egg as a gift for Easter this year.

Did you know?

  • Rabbits can live ten or more years.  That cute bunny you’re thinking of buying for your child on Easter could still be around long after your child has grown into a teen.  Should the novelty wear off, you’ll have an adult rabbit in the house who needs your care and attention every day for the next decade or longer.
  • They require as much involved, long-term care, and management as a dog or cat; and often more.
  • Rabbits are physically delicate and fragile animals.  They must be handled with care.  This makes them inappropriate for families with very young children.  Adults should be the primary caregiver in families with young children.
  • We all know that children are energetic and loving, but “loving” to a small child means holding, cuddling, or carrying an animal around.  These are precisely the things that frighten and can injure rabbits.
  • Rabbits have been known to scratch and bite to protect themselves from well-meaning children, and to defend territory.
  • Rabbits are accidentally dropped by children, resulting in broken legs and broken backs.  (This is not as uncommon as you would think). I know from personal childhood experience.
  • Rabbits are not low-maintenance pets.  -They have very specific dietary and housing needs.
  • The days of leaving a rabbit in a hutch outside are long gone; that’s now considered borderline neglect.
  • Thousands of ex-Easter bunniesare abandoned to shelters and zoos, or thrown into the wild each year when their novelty wears off.

    Our rabbit Ezra
    Our rabbit Ezra
  • Rabbits require specialized veterinary care, which means you will need to find a veterinarian who speciliazes in rabbits.
  • Rabbits must be spayed or neutered – something else you’ll have to consider (the cost, the stress of the procedure, and your close involvement in the rabbit’s recovery)..
  • Rabbits can be messy, so you’ll need to clean their enclosure at least three times weekly.
  • Rabbits require regular brushings to remove excess hair and keep their coat in good condition.
  • Companion rabbits should live indoors with their human family.  Although an outdoor hutch has been the traditional housing for a rabbit, today that is not the case.  A backyard hutch forces these social animals to live in unnatural isolation.  Rabbits can die of heart attacks from the very approach of a predator.  They are prone to overheating as well.
  • They may be small, but rabbits require a lot of room for housing and exercise.
  • Rabbits need exercise for several hours EVERY day.  They are designed for running & jumping!
  • Annual cost of one rabbit per year is $730

Is your family ready to commit to all of this??

The Teutonic deity Eostra was the goddess of spring and fertility. Feasts were held in her honor on the Vernal Equinox.  Her symbol was the rabbit because of the animal’s high reproduction rate.
The Teutonic deity Eostra was the goddess of spring and fertility. Feasts were held in her honor on the Vernal Equinox. Her symbol was the rabbit because of the animal’s high reproduction rate.

Our family has always had rabbits.  Ever since I can remember my mother and father raised rabbits, and I loved them dearly, but they were the caregivers.  When I was old enough to have my first rabbit my parents made sure we had the space, finances, and the dedication to a rabbit.  They made sure I was mature enough to take on 100% responsibility. And let me tell you, rabbits are amazing companion animals, but they are a LOT of work.  They are wicked smart, very clever, very sensitive to heat and humidity, and sometimes very awnry!  They get into everything; plants, wires, shoes, etc. They are prey animals, so sometimes it’s very dangerous to have them in a home with cats and/or dogs.

You really need to consider the risks before you go out and buy that cute bunny.

Our rabbit getting into my mom's newly planted plants on the patio
Our rabbit getting into my mom’s newly planted plants on the patio

If your family member has their mind set on getting a rabbit, and you have discussed all of the facts listed above, get a book on rabbit care.   Do your research and homework first.  Then you can make an informed and well educated decision.  If children know what is involved and how high maintenance rabbits or bunnies really are, but are still begging you for a rabbit after the holiday has passed, hop over to the House Rabbit Society  for information on bunny rescue groups to find out how to adopt the rabbit (or even better, a bonded pair) of their furry dreams.

Starch, our family rabbit lived for over a decade! She was loved dearly, but  she was a handful to say the least!
Starch, our family rabbit lived for over a decade! She was loved dearly, but she was a handful to say the least! (in her youth on the left, and in her senior years on the right).

Learn more about what is involved with companion rabbit care HERE.  

EC 16
If bunnies were advertised like this, I have a  hunch that it would cut down on the numbers of pet rabbits bought on a whim during this time of year

Conscious Decisions

Conscious Decisions

What’s in that Easter candy that you will be indulging in soon? I hope there’s no palm oil.
Why should we all say NO to palm oil?  Palm oil poses the most significant threat to the widest range of endangered megafauna.  This includes endangered tigers, elephants, rhinos and orangutans.  Hundreds of critically endangered species live in Southeast Asia’s rainforest and peat swamp forest ecosystems. These habitats are destroyed for palm oil plantations.  Learn more about the devastating effects of palm oil here

Be conscious about the products you buy for Easter.   This palm oil-free Easter Goodie Guide can help you.   

Choose wisely.  Be a conscious companion to all species.

Spare a Rabbit. Say NO to Bunnies this Easter

Spare a Rabbit by Saying NO to Bunnies this Easter

Many cherished Easter traditions, from the Easter bunny to decorating and hunting for eggs, have been around for centuries.   Let’s begin with the infamous Easter Bunny.   The exact origin of this mythical mammal is unclear.   There’s no story in the Bible about a long-eared, cotton-tailed creature.   Nor is there a passage about young children painting eggs or hunting for baskets overflowing with delicious Easter goodies.   And real rabbits certainly don’t lay eggs.   However rabbits, because they are prolific procreators, are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life.   Easter eggs are linked back to centuries of traditions.  The egg, also an ancient symbol of new life, has been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring.  From a Christian perspective, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and resurrection.

Bunnies, eggs, Easter gifts and fluffy, yellow chicks in gardening hats all stem from pagan roots
Bunnies, eggs, and Easter gifts stem from pagan roots. They are ancient symbols for fertility and new life

The origin of the Easter Bunny can be traced back to 13th-century pre-Christian Germany
The origin of the Easter Bunny can be traced back to 13th-century pre-Christian Germany

Fast forward to this century and now people buy rabbits for their children for Easter, many of whom do not even know the history behind these long eared lagomorphs.  Our culture is filled with images of children and rabbits, so many parents see rabbits as low-maintenance starter pets for kids.  Nothing could be further from the truth.   Before you fill your Easter basket with a live bunny, find out what is involved with caring for this complicated animal companion.

easter_eggs

Did you know?

  • Rabbits can live ten or more years.  That cute bunny you’re thinking of buying for your child on Easter could still be around long after your child has grown into a teen.  Should the novelty wear off, you’ll have an adult rabbit in the house who needs your care and attention every day for the next decade or longer.
  • They require as much involved, long-term care, and management as a dog or cat.
  • Rabbits are physically delicate and fragile animals.  They must be handled with care.  This makes them inappropriate for families with young children.  Adults should be the primary caregiver.
  • We all know that children are energetic and loving, but “loving” to a small child means holding, cuddling, or carrying an animal around.  These are precisely the things that frighten rabbits.
  • Rabbits can’t cry out when distressed.  Instead, they may start to scratch or bite to protect themselves from well-meaning children.
  • Many rabbits are accidentally dropped by children, resulting in broken legs and broken backs.  This is not as uncommon as you would think.
  • Rabbits are not low-maintenance pets.  -They have very specific dietary and housing needs.
  • Thousands of ex-Easter bunnies are abandoned to shelters or thrown into the wild each year when their novelty wears off.
  • They require specialized veterinary care and they must be spayed or neutered.
  • Rabbits can be messy, so you’ll need to clean their enclosure at least twice weekly.
  • They require regular brushings to remove excess hair and keep their coat in good condition.
  • Companion rabbits should live indoors with their human family.  Although an outdoor hutch has been the traditional housing for a rabbit, today that is not the case.  A backyard hutch forces these social animals to live in unnatural isolation.  Rabbits can die of heart attacks from the very approach of a predator.  They are prone to overheating as well.
  • They may be small, but rabbits require a lot of room for housing and exercise
  • Rabbits need exercise for several hours EVERY day.  They are designed for running & jumping!
  • Annual cost of one rabbit per year is $730

The Teutonic deity Eostra was the goddess of spring and fertility. Feasts were held in her honor on the Vernal Equinox.  Her symbol was the rabbit because of the animal’s high reproduction rate.
The Teutonic deity Eostra was the goddess of spring and fertility. Feasts were held in her honor on the Vernal Equinox. Her symbol was the rabbit because of the animal’s high reproduction rate.

If your family member has their mind set on getting a rabbit, and you have discussed all of the facts listed above, get a book on rabbit care.   Do your research and homework first.  Then you can make an informed and well educated decision.  If children know what is involved and how high maintenance rabbits or bunnies really are, but are still begging you for a rabbit after the holiday has passed, hop over to the House Rabbit Society  for information on bunny rescue groups to find out how to adopt the rabbit (or even better, a bonded pair) of their furry dreams.

Learn the details of what is involved with companion rabbit care HERE.  

EC 16
If bunnies were advertised like this, I have a  hunch that it would cut down on the numbers of pet rabbits bought on a whim during this time of year