WE PLANT THE "SEEDS OF IDEAS" IN DOG OWNERS MINDS - THESE IDEAS EVENTUALLY BLOSSOM INTO A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF DOG BEHAVIOUR - Sally Hopkins
WE PLANT THE "SEEDS OF IDEAS" IN DOG OWNERS MINDS - THESE IDEAS EVENTUALLY BLOSSOM INTO A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF DOG BEHAVIOUR - Sally Hopkins

SPRINKLES (TM) by Sally Hopkins © 2014 (UK Trade Mark #UK00003028207 of Dog Games Ltd)

This section includes

What is Sprinkles(TM)?

What it is not .......

Many benefits of Sprinkles(TM)

How do i begin doing Sprinkles(TM)?

How do I st up a Sprinkles(TM) session?

Reasns why a dog may not be interested to do Sprinkles(TM)

When and How often do I do Sprinkles(TM)?

Where Sprinkles(TM) can help......

 

 

Sprinkles is a very simple concept and has many very powerful and amazing results. In this article I will explain what Sprinkles is, the various benefits of it, the latest information about the science of dogs noses and their sense of smell, how to start doing Sprinkles with your dog, and how to broaden the applications to a number of situations that are of profound benefit for both you and your dog.

It is not an instant cure for all behavioural problems, but it is a simple and effective start to help make a change. For further advice and guidance please consult a reputable local dog behaviourist who must visit your house to assess your dog and its lifestyle and make a detailed management plan using kind force-free methods. They should always offer “escape routes” if your dog becomes confused or frightened - no human or animal can learn or concentrate when it feels trapped or fearful.

WHAT IS "SPRINKLES"(TM)?

To put it simply – it is throwing and sprinkling small amounts of tiny morsels of moist food (*see below) over a large area of grass, without your dog seeing what you are doing. You then allow him to take as much time as he needs to search and find the Sprinkles (which leave molecules of scent, even when they have been eaten) without prompting or distracting him in any way. Sprinkles tires your dog mentally, fulfils his working instincts & drive, builds confidence in his abilities, and promotes deep natural healing sleep – all of which help to lower dogs long term stress levels.

WHAT IT IS NOT....

The concept of Sprinkles is different from that of just throwing food on ground for your dog to find in order to distract its attention.

Firstly, for many dogs the sight of their owner throwing food on the ground can be too strong and exciting a cue for dogs - making them over aroused in their eagerness to find the food and also watching their owner in case more food is thrown. This extra excitement can exacerbate their underlying fears or frustrations and be far from distracting. Sprinkles, if properly managed and introduced, can be used to distract dogs but there are some very subtle but effective differences (see "Distraction / Emergency Stop" at the end of this article).

 

Dried food and processed dog treats have very little residual molecules of scent and so the food hunting session is soon over, with little to encourage your dog to remain Seeking. The longer the time that a dog uses it nose, the more calm, relaxed and mentally tired it will become - thus promoting deep healing sleep.

Another difference is that of consistent location. Dropping food in random locations and different contexts can be very confusing for a dog, particularly one who has fears of frustrations to overcome as well. Sprinkles encourages specific "work areas" or Sprinkle Spots, so that the dog is relaxed and confident of what it is going to do, find, and above all promote calmness and being relaxed. Later on, after many repetitions, this calm work ethic can be transferred to specific situations and circumstances (see various suggestions at the end of this article).

MANY BENEFITS OF SPRINKLES(TM)

It is a natural behaviour
Sprinkles enables your dog to use his amazing sense of smell to “seek” and find high value food that is not easy to see. It is a structured and regulated form of scavenging and only takes place in specific locations - “Sprinkles Spots”.

 

It is fun, motivational and offers your dog an outlet for his strong working drives
Each time your dog finds a Sprinkle he is rewarded instantly. Even when the food seems to have gone the scent and molecules are still on the grass, building drive and determination to find the very last one…. And usually there is another one to find. Sprinkle Spots can retain the tantalising scents of moist treats on the blades of grass for weeks afterwards, offering further mental exercise and the chance of "winning the Lottery" of one more tiny morsel of tuna fish etc.

 

It builds confidence in your dog’s own abilities -
Because there is no interaction or feedback from a human your dog can work at his own pace. There is no one saying whether he has got it “right” or “wrong”. Each success reinforces him to repeat the behaviour.

 

“Going to Work” at a specific location
Sprinkles is done in special places and on a cue, enabling your dog to learn to associate the location and Sprinkles together as “work” - doing something different and slightly challenging.

 

Builds strong, calm positive associations
For instance - with strangers, other dogs, the environment or location, moving house, re-homing, adoption, separation anxiety, being hand shy, boarding kennels, distraction, etc (see “Ideas for Sprinkles” at end of this article)

 

Promotes deep contented sleep
Allowing the body to heal and repair itself - Stress (such as too much exercise, lack of choice or control in its environment) can keep a dog’s adrenaline levels too high for long periods of time so that however tired its body is, the dog is over aroused to be able to sleep deeply.

 

More mentally tiring than an hour long walk
Ideal exercise for bitches in heat who cannot be walked, or those emergency times when you do not have the time or opportunity to give your dog its usual exercise walk.

 

 

Fulfils their neglected sense of taste
Many dogs have a very restricted diet when it comes to taste, often having the same flavour and texture of food for weeks and even months on end. Sense of smell and taste are inextricably linked so when your dog is hunting for Sprinkles and finds a morsel of food he gets two sensory rewards in one – scent and taste – which are highly reinforcing and build up drive and confidence to carry on searching for more.

 

Physical fitness is not required
Ideal mental exercise for young dogs, disabled dogs, dogs recovering from illness, and old dogs that are unable to walk far.

Helps your dog become calm and then he is better able to focus and concentrate
Long term stress often affects a dog’s ability to concentrate or focus. This is because the dog’s body is in “fight or flight” mode due to the excess adrenaline in its body. In order for the dog to best use its nose it has to try to lower these adrenaline levels (similar to us taking a deep breath) so that it can find the Sprinkles. Once it has learnt how to do this it is more able to calm itself down, particularly if Sprinkles is done just before it needs to focus and concentrate (eg. Sprinkles in the exercise area before a training class, agility run, dog dancing etc).

 

HOW DO I BEGIN DOING SPRINKLES"(TM) ?

WHERE?

 

CALM, QUIET & WITH GRASS

You will need an area of grass that has no environmental distractions and preferably somewhere it can be left alone, off lead. Many people start in their back garden as the dog has a strong history of calmness and safety there.
If you do not have access to a secure grassy area then choose a calm quiet corner of a nearby park, field, or neighbours garden - with their permission of course! Try to Sprinkle over as large an area as is practically possible and do not be tempted to drop all the Sprinkles in one place.

 

If you live in a dry arid climate with very little access to grass you need to find some other 3 dimensional surface to do Sprinkles on. Sand, pea gravel, and dirt are not ideal as the moist Sprinkles will stick to them and may be accidentally eaten by your dog. Suitable alternatives to grass are - a mound of straw, pieces of artifical grass or deep-pile carpets scattered over a wide area, or shredded paper in a cardboard box if done indoors.

 

Newly cut grass and very short grass are not really suitable as it is too easy for your dog to see the Sprinkles and that defeats the object of the exercise. Also newly cut grass gives off a very strong scent that may be too big a challenge for dogs just learning to do Sprinkles.

 

Very long grass can be difficult to negotiate and hunt in, and the scent molecules may be caught high up on the grass stem as the Sprinkle fell to the ground. Sprinkles can be done in long grass but it is not a task for beginners….

 

 

Do not do Sprinkles where the grass has gone to seed, as the seeds may get caught in the insides of your dog's ears or nose while he is inhaling deeply and concentrating on the hunt.

 

Avoid gravel, sand and doing Sprinkles in wooded areas where there is rotting leaves and fungi. All these can be accidentally ingested when eating the Sprinkles.

Do not do Sprinkles in any area that has chemicals sprayed on the grass for weed control, etc.

If your garden is plagued by slugs and snails be aware of the risk of Lungworm which is caused by your dog eating them. Even if you do not have a snail or slug problem make sure that no Sprinkles are left overnight so that a snail or slug could be sitting on the Sprinkle and accidentally be eaten. This is why it is so important to allow your dog plenty of time to really make sure that no Sprinkles are left behind – which is also the best part for your dog as well!

 

A SPECIFIC “WORK PLACE” - HE WILL NOT BE TEMPTED TO LOOK ELSEWHERE
Dogs have a very strong sense of place (see Environmental Photo) and, when learning, will repeat a strong rewarding behaviour if the location is exactly the same. Over time Sprinkles can be done in a variety of locations but in the early stages of introduction it is strongly recommended that you do it in EXACTLY the same location each time. This is not a problem if done in your back garden but can become more of a challenge when you have to walk or drive to the location. Make sure that the Sprinkle Spot is in the same corner of the same field, park, walk etc. This will then become your dog’s “work place” and he will only start to look for Sprinkles in that location. If you are inconsistent with your choice of locations then your dog will be exhausted and disheartened by looking everywhere and finding no reward. Another benefit of these “work places” is that they prevent the dog from generalising and scavenging in other situations where it is not appropriate.

 

EQUIPMENT NEEDED FOR NON-SECURE LOCATIONS
If the location is not secure then use a long line (about 30ft or 10m) attached to a well-fitted padded harness. DO NOT USE a flexi (extendable) lead as the continuous tension and the possibility of you suddenly stopping will distract your dog, alerting it to the fact that you are there. Holding the end of a relaxed long line is far less restricting and distracting. DO NOT attach the line to your dog’s collar as this will impede his movement as he sniffs the grass, and if your dog suddenly runs to the end of the line he may get whiplash type injuries.

 

* WHAT FOOD DO I USE?

Here are the important factors to consider about food when doing Sprinkles –

 

SIZE IS IMPORTANT
If the morsel of food is too big then the dog will be able to see it easily and will also loose its appetite quickly and not feel the need to hunt. Breaking down chunks of tinned fish into small flakes works well, as does individual morsels of cooked mince, minced cooked meats, grated cheese, parmesan cheese, or food cut into tiny pieces such as liver, ham, beef, chicken, lamb, venison, duck, rabbit, sausages. (Herb cutting scissors can be a great help to quickly cut small pieces and can be found on Amazon, eBay etc.)

 

HUMAN - THERE OR NOT?

If you are doing Sprinkles in the back garden, off lead, then there is no need for you to be there once the dog has been let out to “work” – your presence will be distracting. Some very insecure dogs sometimes need a human near by in the early stages, but they will soon loose interest in their human once they are in “hunt mode”. (Note - please be aware that too many dogs are being stolen from back gardens when left unattended. If this is the case where you live, we strongly advise you remain in the garden within sight of your dog but as far away as is practical)

 

DO NOT PROMPT OR DISTRACT YOUR DOG - LET HIM CONCENTRATE & WORK

 

If you are in a non-secure location then you will need to be holding the end of a relaxed long line - your dog running off into the distance at this early stage should be avoided as he has no concept of the joys that are about to begin. As you may be standing there for up to 20 to 30 minutes I suggest that you take some music to listen to, so that you can enjoy watching your dog while also enjoying your favourite music.

 

MOIST or DRY?
Food with some moisture on it is best, so that molecules of scent from the food remain on the blades of grass even though the morsel of food has been found and eaten. Then, over time, the dog will return on numerous occasions to be completely sure that the food has gone. Some people use their dog’s daily ration of dried food, stir in a small amount of high quality wet food (eg. flakes of tinned fish) to coat the kibble, and then Sprinkle them instead.

 

VARIETY & QUALITY ARE ALSO IMPORTANT

If only one flavour is used in a Sprinkles session then the dog will tire and become bored with the monotony. If the food is low quality and easily available to the dog in its daily routine then there is no challenge either. What we recommend is to make large batches of mixed flavours of Sprinkles food. Put them on trays in your freezer so that they freeze in individual pieces - then keep them in a container or bag in your freezer. If you have any leftovers when cooking meat etc, add the tiny pieces to the mix to make it even more interesting. Keep a small pot of the mix in your fridge so that it is defrosted and ready to Sprinkle as and when required.

 

Do not prepare the food just before going outside to Sprinkle it. This will alert the dog to what is going to happen next and will cause a rush of excitement and adrenaline that prevents the dog from working calmly and defeats the whole object of the exercise.

 

QUANTITY
The size of your dog is the main consideration here. Too few Sprinkles and the dog will soon find all the food morsels and give up, too much and the dog will become satiated and even overweight from too many Sprinkles sessions. Start with one or two spoonfuls of food (size of spoon depends on size of your dog) Sprinkled over as wide an area of grass as possible and see how long it takes before your dog retires for a rest.

 

DOG’S HEALTH

Be aware of your dog’s health with regards allergies, pancreatitis and obesity, and if necessary reduce the daily ration of food to compensate for the calorific value of the Sprinkles. However, many dogs use so much mental energy when doing Sprinkles and the amount given is so small that this is usually not a problem. Here is a list of foods poisonous to dogs.

 

 

HOW DO I SET UP THE SPRINKLES SESSION?

 

In your back garden on the grass –

Walking or driving to the Sprinkle Spot -

Remember to choose a specific location as your Sprinkle Spot. Try to find landmarks that you will recognise and find easily when you return on later occasions. For instance, the corner of a field, behind a specific bush or tree, by a secluded park bench, along the edge of a fence or hedge, or a grassy verge of a quiet car park etc. Depending on the distance and time available there are three options on how you set up the Sprinkle session.

 

  1. Ask a family member to go to the Sprinkle Spot and throw and scatter moist Sprinkles over this specific large area of grass. When they have returned, take him to the Sprinkle Spot.
  2. Drive to the location, leave your dog in the car* out of sight of the Sprinkle Spot so that he does not get excited seeing you scatter the tiny treats, then return for your dog.
  3. I would like to remind my readers of the dangers of leaving a dog in a car and would only suggest this option if shade, temerature, security, ventilation and water are carefully considered on each and every occassion.
  4. If none of the above options are available to you, walk to the location with your dog. Distract your dog’s attention while you Sprinkle over as large an area as you can manage. It is not the end of the world if he sees you scattering the food but it does make it harder for him to concentrate as he will keep “checking in” on you in case you suddenly Sprinkle more food.

Whichever of these three options you choose remember to have your dog on a harness and long line if the area is not secure and escape proof. Stand (or sit) calmly and quietly while your dog works. Allow him freedom on the line by having it always relaxed and loose, enabling him to explore whatever area of grass he finds fascinating.

 

  1. Distract your dog to the front of the house, close the kitchen door and take the Sprinkles outside – making sure that your dog cannot see you.
  2. Check that the grass area is free from dog poo, that there are no slugs or snails, and that no children's toys etc can accidentally be eaten.
  3. Make sure you have very tiny morsels of different types of moist food and throw and sprinkle them over as wide an area of grass as possible. Avoid paths and hard surfaces as the food will be too visible, and avoid flowerbeds as your dog may feel the urge to dig if food is left there.
  4. Return to the house and, depending on your dog’s state of arousal, either let him into the garden or sit down and have a drink before letting the dog out.

 

Reward calmness with Sprinkles.
Anger and frustration should not be rewarded with you opening the door. Break the cycle by sitting down (watching the TV etc) and open the door when your dog is calmer and relaxed.

 

If, after 5 to 10 minutes, your dog shows no interest in the Sprinkles do not worry or make an issue about it. It is time for you to do some “detection work” and try and find clues to help you solve the problem.

 

FINISHING A SPRINKLES SESSION

 

Time is the important factor here. Allow your dog as much time as he needs to completely explore and re-explore the Sprinkles Spot. Many dogs will work for 20 - 30 + minutes, while others find the exercise so mentally tiring that 10 to 15 minutes is more than enough for them. Age, mental fitness, physical fitness, work drive, and experience are all factors that need to be taken into account. Dogs will vary from one session to the next so it is very difficult to generalise. You will soon learn to recognise your dog’s body language and see when he has had enough and be able to call him away without too much reluctance. If your dog is determined to carry on then you have probably given him too short a time to work. Let him carry on for another 5 - 10 minutes then try calling him again, or begin to walk away while holding the long line.

 

REASONS WHY A DOG MAY NOT BE INTERESTED IN SPRINKLES

STRESS – An inability to hunt and scavenge can be a symptom of stress. Monitor your dog’s levels of stress symptoms and see if there was anything in particular that may have caused high levels of stress (see Causes of Stress). Try to find ways to manage and reduce your dog's long term stress levels (suggestions can be found in my Stress Solutions) and try Sprinkles again later in the week. If you need further help and advice please ask your vet to refer you to a reputable dog behaviourist who will visit your home and offer pracitcal suggestions to help you and your dog. Dogs need to be assessed in their home environment in order to see how they behave when relaxed and not reactive, as well as assessing what are potential stressful situations for them.
 

LACK OF APPETITE – It may be that your dog is not hungry or does not like the Sprinkles food that you have chosen. Try again another day at a different time (ideally before its routine meal) and/or use different food combinations for Sprinkles. Also consider slightly reducing your dog's daily ration of food and seek the advice of your vet on what is your dog's ideal weight.

 

HUMAN PRESENCE - There are a few dogs who can become over trained and controlled that may not function naturally and independently without direction. If this is the case then it is best to leave your dog alone so that it recognises that it is now "off duty" and can behave naturally. If this is not an option due to the dog being on a long line and harness in a non-secure location, you must sit or stand very still and give no eye contact or verbal or visual cues (this is much harder for both human and dog to achieve).

 

ILL HEALTH - Dogs can sometimes be in pain without us realising it. Muscle spasms or trapped nerves in the neck, shoulders or back can make sniffing the ground uncomfortable. Arthritis and rheumatism can also make sniffing the ground difficult. Please check with your vet that your dog is well and healthy and ask for a referral to specialists such as a Canine Bowen practitioner or McTimoney Chiropractor if they think it beneficial. Hydrotherapy may also be worth asking your vet about as well as this non-weight bearing exercise loosens up stiff muscles and promotes better all round fitness.

 

BAD ASSOCIATIONS – Some dogs have built up a history of bad associations with specific foods (eg. been told off for stealing it in the past) or specific locations. Is there another dog in the household who has issues about guarding food? Your dog may be fearful of the consequences of hunting for food in the other dog’s “territory”. If so change the location to one that is neutral and has no scent history of the other dog and make sure that you do Solo Sprinkles for a long time to build up your dog's confidence.

 

MORE THAN ONE DOG? – START BY DOING “SOLO SPRINKLES”

If you have more than one dog in your household make sure that each dog is allowed to go and do Sprinkles one at a time (refreshing the area with more Sprinkles before each dog). "Solo Sprinkles" in these first calm sessions builds up a strong history of confidence and the ability to succeed every time.

 

In a week or two the two dogs can go out together to search a Sprinkle Spot, especially if the grass area is extensive and there is plenty of space to escape and yet still hunt for the scattered Sprinkles.

 

If "Multi Dog Sprinkles" is done too soon there is a danger that your dogs can build up a history of stress, competition, a predisposition for resource guarding, or can become helpless and fearful of working near the other dog.

 

 

 

RESOURCE GUARDING

If your dog has issues about resource guarding food or toys from the other dogs in your household this is my advice. Begin by doing "Solo Sprinkles" not in your own garden but somewhere that is neutral territory. Perhaps ask a dog-less neighbour if you can use their back garden a couple of times a week for Solo Sprinkles with each of the dogs in your household. This will prevent any of your dogs worrying whose food it belongs to (yet they can still smell that the other dog(s) have been there) and build calm positive associations. Then, if all seems to going well, transfer to another location in a corner of a park or field.

 

You may eventually be able to do Sprinkles in your own garden (Solo for a long time of course) and perhaps introduce another of your dogs - but space is critical. Each dog needs to have plenty of space to explore without getting too near to the other dog and also have plenty of tiny Sprinkles spread over the whole garden/corner of field so that it will seem pointless to try to guard it all. My advice is - if in doubt keep doing Solo Sprinkles.

WHEN & HOW OFTEN DO I DO SPRINKLES?

Your dog must not be tired or recently fed. An ideal time to learn do Sprinkles is first thing in the morning in the back garden while you are having breakfast. Then, if you need to, take him for a shorter walk than normal - although many dogs are reluctant to go far after a session of Sprinkles as they are mentally exhausted from the task. How many times a week you offer your dog a Sprinkles session depends on your dog’s mental and physical needs. I recommend experimenting with every other day, or 2 or 3 times a week, once or twice a month, to see how your dog responds. I must emphasise that doing Sprinkles every day may be far too much for the average dog and that Sprinkles will loose its novelty and challenge if done too regularly.

 

RECALL & RENDEZVOUS
If your dog is reluctant to come back when called (particularly at the end of the walk when he knows he will be taken away from the exciting environment) practice a Sprinkles Spot at a quiet safe spot near the car park or exit of the venue. Remember that in order for your dog to be able to do Sprinkles he must be on a harness and long line, which eventually will become the cue for the Sprinkles to begin at the Sprinkle Spot.

 

To begin with take you dog directly to the Sprinkle Spot and do not do the walk at all.

 

On your next visit, “backward chain” so that you do the very last part of the walk, then go to the exact same Sprinkles Spot (making sure that you approach it from the same direction every time).

 

Over time you can cut accross to the middle of the usual walking route, turn round and walk to the Sprinkle Spot (as in step 2).

 

Eventually you will be doing the entire route of the walk and your dog will build up a sense of anticipation and pleasure when you reach the Sprinkle Spot – eager to have his long line attached before he is allowed to go off and work.

 

If you ever loose sight of your dog on this walk in the future I can almost guarantee that you will find him waiting for you at the Sprinkles Spot, impatiently waiting for his lead or long line to attached.

 

HOME ALONE
Because Sprinkles is mentally challenging and tiring without over exercising muscles (which raises adrenaline levels) it is an ideal exercise to do before leaving your dog in the house for a few hours. The quiet house gives your dog the opportunity for deep undisturbed sleep with no accidental distractions from his human family. Some pet sitters and dog walkers do a half an hour of Sprinkles when they visit their clients dogs. These dogs benefit from the calm focus of having "work" to do, breaking up the monotony of many hours of lonliness without sudden rushes of adrenaline making the departure of the vistor even harder to cope with.

 

 

 

WHERE SPRINKLES CAN HELP

Once you and your dog are happy and familiar with the concept of Sprinkles you can have specific “work places” on a regular walk (see version above when not done at home). Here are some other examples of helping dogs with specific problems –

 

DISTRACTION / EMERGENCY STOP

eg. CASES OF FEAR & FRUSTRATION WITH STRANGERS / DOGS

 

With cases of fear and frustration, Sprinkles can be of help but is not the entire solution. There are a large number of protocols and exercises for helping dogs overcome the fear or frustration of strangers or other dogs. Please speak to an experienced and qualified behaviourist for more information and make sure that your dog is not flooded or ever put into a situation where there is no ESCAPE. An ideal starting point to look at is BAT (Behaviour Adjustment Training).

Instead of having a specific location as a Sprinkles Spot you make the area JUST BEHIND YOU = Sprinkles Spot. Your body acts as a safety barrier from the thing that the dog fears, and also the Sprinkles diverts your dog’s attention onto something it enjoys doing. Another benefit of using Sprinkles is that when a dog is sniffing the ground it is a natural Calming Signals to other dogs and helps diffuse the situation.

 

Keep a tasty selection of tiny Sprinkles in an air-tight container so that your dog has no idea whether you have food on your person or not.

 

Throw a reasonable amount of Sprinkles behind you and say calmly but loudly while facing away from your dog “Please keep away” (if the dog is frightened of people) or “Please call your dog” if other dogs are an issue. Soon your dog will associate your turning away and calling out as the cue that a great game of Sprinkles is available just behind you.


Some people use “My dog may be contagious” which is rather extreme but it does motivate the other dog’s handler to call their dog back to them rather than face large vet bills! Actually you are not telling a lie - fear is contagious. If your dog shows fear it brings out fear and suspicion in other dogs as well.

 

Practice first in the safety of your back garden, then in safe locations well away from the thing that your dog fears. Over time you can reduce the distance before offering your dog the escape route of playing Sprinkles behind you.

 

Eventually your dog will build up strong associations that whatever it used to fear is now a pleasant and rewarding situation, as Sprinkles keeps them calm, motivated and mentally fulfilled

 

Just a quick reminder about scent as a displacement activity. If your dog finds something interesting and distracting to smell you do not have to offer Sprinkles as well. Your dog is learning that sniffing the ground often dispells and prevents difficult situations occuring - wonderful Life Skills in conflict avoidance.

 

LEARNS ABOUT “POLITE” DOG BODY LANGUAGE
Please be aware that these introductory “meeting” sessions are extremely tiring for dogs and should only be done for about 5 – 10 minutes (depending on each dog’s history and levels of stress on each occasion).

 

Two dogs can be calmly introduced to one another at either end of a large field that has Sprinkles at each end, with a smaller amount in the middle. Natural barriers such as bushes and trees are an advantage but are not essential as long as there is plenty of space and a sense of freedom. There must also be an option for escape for each dog, with separate exits or access to their open vehicle at each end of the field..

 

Both dogs should be on relaxed long lines (attached to well fitted harnesses) that are held by their owners for management purposes.

 

Although both dogs would be concentrating on hunting for the Sprinkles they would be aware of each other’s presence. Their calm body language and continual sniffing is similar to natural “polite” dog body language – walking in a curve, allowing each other space and time to asses the emotional state of the other, no sudden movements or tension in the lead or body, and a sense of companionship in working together to hunt and find the Sprinkles.

 

Make sure that the distance between the dogs is not too close. It is far better to err on the side of caution and have them doing Sprinkles well away from each other, rather than get too close and raise levels of frustration or fear.

 

There are no opportunities to resource guard because the field is too big and the Sprinkles too wide spread.

 

After three or four weekly sessions most dogs are happy to work without a long line (as long as the field is safe and secure) and are comfortable in the presence of the other dog or “work mate”.

 

Over time new Sprinkles areas can be explored and gentle social walks done in the company of the other dog. Always make sure that both dogs have the option to move away from the other should they wish - never use a short lead or a tight lead.

 

MOVING HOUSE
When a client was moving house they did Sprinkles in the back garden of the new house 3 or 4 times before they moved in (with the permission of the previous owners, of course). On the day of the move the dog ran straight into the back garden and had a great session of Sprinkles while completely ignoring the upheaval going on inside. In the days that followed, if the dog became overwhelmed by the new house or routine it took itself off to the back garden and was able to relax and unwind.

 

RESCUE CENTERS AND SHELTERS
It is very difficult to lower long term stress levels for dogs who are coming to terms with the trauma of not having a stable, calm home environment. Volunteers are often asked to walk these dogs but Sprinkles can have a very powerful and calming effect on these dogs and the volunteers can really help too.

 

Find a bench in a quiet location of the Shelter’s grounds. Chairs are ok but they get moved – benches are more immovable and so provide a stronger environmental trigger for these dogs.

 

Ideally there should be grass near or around the bench (although I have seen a small patch of weeds used effectively in a city shelter).

 

The volunteer Sprinkles the grass around the bench and sits calmly, reading a book or listening to music on headphones.

 

The staff brings the dog out on a long line and harness and calmly gives the end of the long line to the Volunteer to hold. They leave, or retreat to a distance that the dog feels comfortable and not distracted by.

 

The dog recognises the location as its “Work Area” or “Sprinkles Spot” and calmly begins to hunt. There is no expectation that the dog has to interact with the Volunteer.

 

After repetition with continued calmness and reward by Sprinkles, the dog begins to associate strangers as triggers for pleasant calm things happening. Dogs often initiate interaction with the humans and enjoy the companionship and calmness of the entire situation.

 

These Sprinkle Spots are wonderful opportunities for prospective new owners and dogs to meet – away from the confines of its kennel, with the option of the dog being able to escape the entire length of its long line.

 

If the dog and human choose one another then the “sitting + Sprinkles Spot” can be transferred to their new garden and eventually other local walks, parks etc. Eventually the human sitting aspect of the exercise can be faded away and Sprinkle Spots chosen for other reasons instead.

 

BUILDS TRUST AND CONFIDENCE
Sprinkles is also used by behaviourists and shelter workers to build a relationship of trust and calmness with a fearful dog. They may scatter the Sprinkles while the dog is watching them from a distance, retreat so that the dog can approach and investigate, and over time the dog builds up enough confidence to approach and interact with them. Eventually the once fearful dog can take food from their hand or Treat Box

 

INTRODUCTION TO BOARDING KENNELS
Well run and progressive boarding kennels often allow prospective clients dogs to visit the exercise area for a session of Sprinkles, time spent alone in a kennel, then more Sprinkles in the exercise area, before taking the dog home the same day. A few sessions of this helps make the dog feel at home and relaxed in the kennels so that there is little stress or anxiety when its family are away.

 

PUPPIES
Puppies just love Sprinkles! Their inquisitiveness and eagerness to explore makes them ideal candidates. It also builds confidence in their own abilities and promotes a sense of safety and satisfaction by the endorphins that are released when it finds the food. Put Sprinkles on a visual and/or verbal cue and you have a dog “programmed” for life!

 

INVALID DOGS, OLD DOGS, BITCHES ON HEAT
Physical fitness is not required when doing Sprinkles. It is an ideal mental exercise that can be done calmly and under supervision in the back garden. Another option is to do it early morning or late evening on a grass verge by a local car park, where other dogs have been recently. It is best not done when other dogs are around as the frustration and excitement of seeing another dog may be too much for these dogs to cope with.
See Sniff2calm for other simple ideas to keep your dog mentally exercised.

 

AVOIDING VISITORS OR WORKMEN WHO DO NOT LIKE DOGS
If you have a dog that overwhelms visitors or workmen when they come to your door you can use Sprinkles to keep them amused. Quickly Sprinkle an area on your back lawn and let your dog out before you open the front door to these visitors. By the time your dog has finished his Sprinkles session he will have used up plenty of excess mental and physical energy and either go to his bed for a nice long sleep, or lie at their feet. Because dogs are very quick to pick up patterns and routines, you will soon have a dog that runs to the back door to be let out when he hears the front door bell ringing....

 

Video links showing dogs doing Sprinkles - (explanations about the footage are written underneath each of the videos in You Tube)

 

Sam, a rescue Border Collie, a few days after his arrival in his new home
Sprinkles helps newly re-homed dogs feel safe and secure in their new gardens - http://youtu.be/7SI7xhsXK08
 

Sam doing Sprinkles on the grass verges of a secluded car park
Explains how Sprinkles helps fearful dogs build up safe and happy associations while surrounded by the scents of strange dogs - http://youtu.be/Qb-v-BHSOd4
 

Pye doing Sprinkles (concentration)
This high energy dog is able to focus and concentrate at the beginning of a Sprinkles session - http://youtu.be/2FcumyH-H6g
 

Pye doing Sprinkles (over tired)
This video was taken later in the same session, showing the difference in concentration and lack of focus. We recommend that you finish a Sprinkles session before your dog gets this tired - http://youtu.be/TGNLswuEcRM

 

Further videos will be added in the weeks and months to come. We encourage everyone to freely share the link to this web page with all dog owners around the world so that many millions of dogs can experience the benefits of Sprinkles. However, no profit must be gained by passing on this specific knowledge as we hold the Trade Mark rights to Sprinkles (TM) as a dog training concept.


I would like to express my sincere gratitude and thanks to the following kind friends who helped me edit this web page - Brian Holmes, Cate Davies, Eileen Smith, Sean Hopkins

 

The images & material contained herein may not be copied or reproduced either physically* or electronically without the prior individual written approval of Sally Hopkins.


SPRINKLES is a UK Trade Mark #UK00003028207 of Dog Games Ltd

* This pdf document is available for download free of charge but may not be altered in anyway or sold to anyone.

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