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Make a fun toy for Fido with this animal enrichment project you can do at home
At Discovery Place Science and Discovery Place Nature, we have the amazing privilege to provide opportunities for our guests to meet animals that live in our region as well as some that hail from other parts of the world. These extraordinary experiences are made possible by the hard work of our dedicated, passionate Living Collections team members, who take care of these Museum residents every single day of the year – even on weekends and holidays. They are truly superstars!
Besides giving the animals a cozy habitat and delicious food to eat, this team also thinks about ways to help our animal residents stay healthy and well through animal enrichment. This typically involves tasks or activities to stimulate the animal’s body and brain. They are designed to provide stress-free experiences that keep the animal feeling good and include exercise, climbing structures, nest building materials and heat lamps. The enrichment has benefits that are physical, for the body, and cognitive, for their brain.
If you have animal residents in your own home – perhaps in the form of a cat, dog, guinea pig, fish or something else – you probably provide similar enrichment opportunities based on your pet’s needs and preferences. For example, every time you take your dogs on a walk or give them a chew toy, you are providing animal enrichment for your pet.
In this Stay at Home Science activity, we are going to show you how to make a chew or fetch toy for your dog from repurposed fabric. So go grab some old sweaters you don’t need any more and let’s get started!
- Fabric (like fleece or an old sweatshirt/blanket)
- Rubber band or hair tie
1. Cut fabric in to four equal length strips (Note: longer strips = larger toy.)
2. Tie all 4 strips together using your rubber band or hair tie, leaving some fabric (about 3 inches) loose on one end. This loose fabric will become the fringe on this end.
3. Lay out tied fabric in a plus shape.
4. Fold opposite strips straight over the center to create two loops. Do not cross these strips over each other.
5. Take one strip not currently looped, pass over the first strip and under the second. Do the same with the opposite strip. Do not cross these strips over each other.
6. Pull each strip, creating a tight square knot. This first square knot should be tighter than the other square knots that will be created.
7. Repeat looping along with over under method used in steps 3-5, until there is only 3-4 inches left of fabric on end.
8. To tie off end of toy, take opposite strips and tie in a single knot. Repeat this step with other opposite strips on that same end.
9.Remove band on other side of toy. Tie off this end like you did the other end. If desired, trim ends to make them even.
10. Give completed toy to your pup!
Do some research on the type of animal that lives with you and consider ways to make your home environment as comfortable and interesting for them as possible. Use well-established sites like National Geographic, American Kennel Club or Spruce Pets to ensure you are creating safe and healthy animal enrichment activities for your pets.