You already know your dog benefits from physical exercise, but did you know it’s just as important to stimulate those little doggy noggins as well? Especially for dog-parents who work during the day, boredom is a reality. If your dog isn’t being mentally stimulated enough, they may be telling you in their own unique way, by chewing, scratching, ‘singing,’ or otherwise making mischief to keep themselves entertained.
Here are a few tips for providing mental stimulation for your dog.
Choose Temperament & Breed-Appropriate Activities
Whether you have a purebred dog or a purely adorable mutt, your dog’s temperament and breed can be a good indicator of the type of mental stimulation they need to thrive. For example, a bulldog probably isn’t going to excel at an agility course, but may spend hours sniffing, pawing and snorting at a treat puzzle.
Dog breeds were created for a specific purpose: to hunt, herd, find, protect, etc. So finding mentally stimulating activities that support these strengths can be a good starting point. Of course, every dog is different and their own temperament will ultimately dictate what they find stimulating.
When You’re Together
Training – whether at home or with a professional – is a great way to bond with your pup while also providing the mental stimulation they crave. Even if your dog is already well behaved, obedience training can help them focus and work on new commands. If you truly have zero issues with behavior, consider training to help them learn more advanced commands and even ‘tricks’ to stimulate their gray matter and give them a sense of accomplishment.
When You’re Away
Again, dogs get bored! If you’re gone for most of the day, consider toys and activities that can keep them mentally stimulated throughout the day.
Treat puzzles are a great way to keep doggies interested and focused. You can also try “find and seek” type toys, or install a pet camera that allows you to interact with your dog during the day (some even dispense treats!).
Just like people, dogs need (and enjoy!) mental stimulation. One-on-one work with owners and trainers, combined with toys that challenge and entertain them, can make a happier and healthier pooch!