How To Mentally Stimulate Your Dog
Dog Training for Mental Stimulation
Most pet owners don’t know this but, ensuring your dog is mentally stimulated is equally as integral as ensuring he is physically fit. In addition to adding extra physical exercise to your dog’s routine, you should consider adding in a few brain games. Mental games enrich our dogs lives intensely by giving them something useful to do. Additionally, because these activities alleviate boredom, our dogs become less prone to behavioral issues like excessive barking, tail chasing, and chewing on things other than their toys. This then raises the question, How do I mentally stimulate my dog?’ Below is a list of several tips that will come in handy if you are looking for easy fun ways to exercise your dog’s brain.
Best Ways to Mentally Stimulate Your Dog
Take your dog out on play dates
There is no doubt that taking your dog out for a ride is an excellent way of creating mental stimulation. The dog gets exposed to different sights and sounds during the ride that make the trip interesting for him, and you as well. However, being in the company of other dogs is an even better way to boost your dog’s emotional and mental state. It is, however, important to be gradual in the process of introducing your dog to potential new friends. Ensure you monitor your dog and his potential friends till you are absolutely sure that they get along. This is because he can easily get overwhelmed by meeting many new dogs. It is advisable to keep him on a leash until you are sure he is comfortable around his new friends.Additionally, ensure his canine friends are well vaccinated and up-to-date on deworming treatments.
2. Make your dog work for his food
It’s no secret that our dogs have it extremely easy when it comes to mealtime. Most pet owners are guilty of simply putting a bowl down for their dogs during meal time and letting them enjoy it. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, it is still a far cry from our dogs’ natural scavenging habits. You can, therefore, create mental stimulation in your dog’s routine by spicing up their feeding routine.
You can do this by buying food dispensing toys such as Bob-A-Lot and Kong Wobbler. Simply put your dog’s meals in the toy and they have to roll it around to get food to get out of the hole. While these toys might be a tad bit noisy for most, it’s definitely worth the satisfaction it creates for your dog.
Introduce/train your dog on new commands and tricks
Does your dog have a good grip on commands such as stay, come here, and lay down? If the answer is yes, then the good news is there are numerous other tricks that you can teach them beyond the basics. Teaching your dog new tricks and commands is great for mental stimulation, especially so for fearful and shy dogs. Training not only helps boost your dog’s confidence but also strengthens the bond between you and the dog. The learning process also helps boost your dog’s impulse control and focus.
Stimulate their nose
A dog’s most powerful sense is the smell. Dogs are known to have powerful noses, which is why even police agencies use them to sniff out drugs or thugs. It is therefore important to ensure you stimulate your dog’s nose. You can do this by creating simple fun games such as a treasure hunt. Look for something with a strong smell that your dog loves such as his favorite toy or a Kong full peanut butter. Show him the treasure before hiding it, then instruct him to go find it. It will be interesting to watch him use his nose to find the �hidden treasure’.
Get your dog new toys or rotate his existing toys
Dogs are just like kids, they often get bored and tired of playing with the same toys every other day. This is why you should rotate your pets toys or give him a new toy regularly. It is especially important for dog breeds with short attention spans as they easily get bored. If your dog is subjected to boredom for long periods of time, they may indulge in destructive behavior to entertain themselves.
Spice up your walk routine
While walking your dog is a great exercise for him, it can get extremely boring is you stick to the same route every day. Try changing up the routine by trying different routes and exploring new neighborhoods. The smell and outlook of different surroundings helps mentally stimulate your dog. It also helps give him something new to look forward to every time you go for a walk. Besides changing routes, you can also ask other family members or friends to go along with you on the walk.
Bring your dog with you as you run simple errands
As indicated earlier, bring your dog to new environments helps to mentally stimulate him and boost his spirits. If you’re going to drop off something at a friends house or going grocery shopping, take your dog along with you. However, you need to ensure beforehand that dogs are allowed into the places you are going to.
Buy your dog interactive toys
It’s no secret that dogs adore toys. Whether it’s chewing toys, frisbees, or even plain old balls, dogs enjoy playing with balls. For pet owners looking to stimulate their dog’s brain, you can get them interactive toys. A great example of an interactive toy is those that dispense food. Such toys are made of strong plastic material and allow you to put a treat inside. For the dog to get the treat, he has to roll the toy with his nose or paw.
In conclusion, the fact that you need to ensure your dog remains mentally stimulated does not mean that physical exercises should take a back seat. You still need to engage your dog in activities that require him to move a lot, such as taking him for walks. Additionally, you should introduce mental stimulation early on in the dog’s life, right from when he’s a puppy and keep it consistent for the rest of his life.
Remember that dogs are brilliant animals and while they might really enjoy chasing a ball across the backyard, it is not only their bodies that need exercise.