Ways to Give Your Dog More Mental Stimulation
It’s no secret that dogs love playtime. And sometimes it really seems as though they will never tire. Have you ever considered that your dog might just be bored and may need some more mental stimulation?
Dog’s brains are simply amazing things.
Some are able to lead blind people through busy streets, bring AWOL sheep back to a herd and can be trained to do everything from fetch a ball to detecting cancer.
They can tell if we are trying to show them something when we point at an object. They can know whether one dog bowl has more dog food than another. They respond to familiar voices and are excellent at determining whether someone is friend or a rival.
Ask many other dog owners and they will tell you that their dogs have them trained, whether it’s feeding time or time to go outside, their dogs will be sure to let them know.
They are more than capable of connecting the dots and reacting to stimuli.
So it’s no wonder your dog might be after some more activities to stimulate their incredible brain power.
Adding more brain games to your dog’s routine will give them something meaningful to do as well as tire them out. It can help to alleviate boredom and also to decrease potential behavioural issues by giving them something else to focus on.
Do you need help with ideas on how to increase your dog stimulation? You’ve come to the right place! We’ve put together some ideas on mental stimulation for dogs for you to explore and try out.
ALLOW YOUR DOG TO WORK FOR THEIR FOOD
This is so simple yet so effective! Dogs have a natural scavenging and hunting habit and so allowing them to essentially earn their food will leave them feeling extra satisfied.
It is easy to do on your own. All you have to do is hide their food (or treats) and let them loose to find it. Try starting with an easy location so your dog doesn’t get frustrated – some may say hangry - and can understand what is going on. Make it harder each time or even split their food or treats into two locations.
You can also purchase food dispensing toys that enable your dog to have a challenge at dinner time. These usually entail your dog having to use their tongue to ‘fish out’ their food from inside the toy. This, again, will leave your dog feeling rather pleased with themselves once they have retrieved their food.
Maybe your dog isn’t keen on mentally stimulating dog toys or mental games for dogs. Maybe your dog is more of an explorer! You may have a route that you regularly take your dog on for their daily walks? Perhaps the local park or just a few laps around the block? They will start to be familiar with this route and may even begin to tire of the same place eventually.
Keep it interesting for them by allowing them to explore the area you’re in. And if you take them to a new place regularly then even better! They will love to sniff around and analyse the place using their nose. This is how they fish out other dog scents and gage their surroundings. Let them enjoy the nature that surrounds you and admire as they do so. Find some of Australia’s top dog-friendly destinations here.
GAMES AND PUZZLES
If you hadn’t already guessed, dogs are clever. Like REALLY clever. So giving them a problem solving challenge will really stimulate their minds. There are many mental stimulation games for dogs and fantastic puzzles that you can try out with your dog or you can get creative and make your own! Who doesn’t love DIY games?
Have you ever tried the cup game with your dog? Start by lining up three cups, then place a treat under one cup. Move the cups around whilst your dog sits in front of you and watches. Finally, let them pick the right cup. Or practise until they pick the right cup!
NEW TRICKS AND COMMANDS
Whoever said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks wasn’t strictly correct – senior dogs are actually easier to teach! Doggo’s love to learn and continue to each day. The more you teach them, the more confident they become. Having knowledge is a powerful tool even in the canine world and boosting their confidence is important to your dog’s social life.
Spending time together and being the one to teach these new tricks and commands will also strengthen your bond with your furry friend even more. This will also improve their behaviour and your control – everyone’s a winner!
THE NAME GAME
It’s funny how quickly your dog picks up the words “ball” and “walk” isn’t it? But what about all the other activities and toys they have?
Teach your dog new words. Start with their favourite and most played with toys. Show them the item and repeat what it is called. Place it in another room and tell your dog to go and fetch it using the newly learnt name of the toy. Repeat until perfection!
Of course, there are many more ways in which you can keep your dog occupied and mentally stimulated. You can’t beat the old classics like a good game of hide and seek, fetch or tug! These activities will be sure to tire your dog out mentally and physically. If you want to get creative, tap into your DIY skills and set up an obstacle course. You’ll both have a blast with that one!
If you have any ideas that you’d love to add to the list – get in touch! Or if you’re trying any of these for the first time then be sure to reach out and let us know which one works best for you and which ones are your doggo’s favourites!
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