Taking care of your dog involves lots of things: feeding, grooming, exercising and stimulating their brains. If you leave out any of these components you can expect health issues and behavior issues.
The type or breed of dog you have has different demands for how much exercise they require or how often they need to be groomed. This is also true of how much mental stimulation they will need to be healthy and happy. Some breeds require more mental stimulation than others.
If you find your dog misbehaving it could be because they are bored. Boredom creates problems. When your dog is bored they often take that boredom out on your furniture such as a chewed off chair leg. The solution for a bored pooch is too add some mental challenges to their day. Not sure how to go about this? We have some ideas.
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Canine Mental Stimulating Activities
Chew Toy – A good chew toy or bone is mentally stimulating for your dog. Dogs really focus on what they are chewing.
Exploration Walk – Sometimes when we walk our dog we are keeping up a pace and staying on heel and this is great for physical exercise. But a walk where you take it slow and let your pooch stop and smell along the way is great for the brain. Dogs learn a lot from their smell and their nose seems like it is directly connected to their brain. So once in a while a no hurry stroll is in order.
Bubble Pop – Blowing bubbles for your dog is inexpensive, physically challenging and mentally challenging. Most dogs are fascinated by bubbles. Your dog will want to pop those bubbles. If you blow bubbles outside the wind will send them spinning in different directions making this activity even more challenging.
Fetch – Numerous breeds and mutts love a good game of fetch. Small dogs might just need a toss across the living room but bigger dogs may need a game outside. This is a good physical workout but also stimulates the brain to find the object and bring it back.
Hide and Seek – Dogs have a great sense of smell and they know what a treat smells like. Hiding a treat in another room and then letting your dog go “find it”. Is very good mentally. Another way to play this game is to take some old shoe boxes turn them all upside down, hide a treat under one and let your dog try and find it.
Interactive Food Toy – Hiding a treat inside a toy that your dog has to work to get the treat out is a great challenge. You could try a Kong toy or something similar. This can keep your dog busy on its own for 20 minutes or so. A great way to stimulate them that lets you get something else accomplished at the same time.
Learning New Tricks – Newness is stimulating for all of us. Teaching your dog the basic tricks of sit, stay and come is great but you can take their training to a whole new level. Roll over, figure eight through your legs or even an obstacle course challenge will up the mental difficulty.
Mentally stimulating activities do not need to be expensive. Your dog doesn’t need a new toy all the time but they do need regular consistent play time. You can rotate their toys and switch them out to keep things fresh. (This is a great idea for parents of children too.)
Dogs thrive on praise and rewards. Make sure to always praise your dog for a good walk, good play time and good behavior.
A mentally stimulated dog is a happy dog! Mental stimulation will help your dog stay calm, happy and relaxed. Let’s get playing together.