We all know exercise is essential for a healthy pup, but mental exercise is important too. Dogs can often feel bored and lack a stimulating environment. This can lead to behavioral problems or lack of interest in the things around them. We may not be able to challenge our friendly Fido to a game of chess or a lively evening of Pictionary, but there are fun ways to engage and stimulate our dog’s mind every day.
Also, finding ways to engage and stimulate our dog’s mind can help us learn “How to Build a Therapeutic Relationship With Your Dog.”
We may think of training as something we do to make sure our pup doesn’t soil the carpet or stops begging at the table, but thinking, learning, and behaving can go far beyond manners and simple commands. In fact, because we are teaching a new behavior, rather than a trick, our dog can think about and exercise this behavior throughout the day while they are still learning, which keeps them engaged longer. However, a new trick will often only happen while we are working directly with our dog. Some examples of everyday dog behaviors that will engage and stimulate our dog’s mind are:
- Remember not to jump
- Stop barking at the doorbell and mail person
- Indoor and outdoor voice
Teach Them New Tricks
The saying that we can’t teach a dog new tricks is all wrong. The truth is, all dogs can learn new tricks. They need a good teacher or trainer who can teach and not show, but new tricks are a great way to engage and stimulate our dog’s mind. Pups love to learn and love to please. Make it fun and then give them the opportunity to show off. Everyone loves to see a dog shake our hand with his little paw or bark on command. Other examples of tricks to work on are (remember to ask a trainer for the more advanced tricks so we teach without confusing our canine companion):
- Learn left and right
- Weave between legs
- The names of his toys
Games, Toys, and Puzzles
Our fur baby may love to fetch and play catch with the frisbee, but there are so many ways to engage and stimulate our dog’s mind that will work for all-weather and space limitation scenarios. We can play games with them or give them toys that will keep them busy. And the great thing about games and puzzles is that we can introduce a new one anytime we want without having to apply training methods. A few examples of games, toys, and puzzles that will engage and stimulate our dog’s mind are:
- Hide treats around the room and let Fido sniff them out. Add a little help by playing the hot/cold game.
- Provide a toy that will release low calorie treats as they play and engage. Different types of toys will require different types of movements and activity, which will keep it fun and interesting.
- Add a toy to their daytime toys that plays noises when it’s moved or played with in certain ways.
The Nose Knows
Dogs love new places and people to see and smell. And new experiences will not only engage and stimulate our dog’s mind at the time they are trying something new, their mind will also process their happy new experiences well into the evening. It also gives them memories to reflect on and friends to recognize when they go out with us next time. Most importantly, the new smells they are processing will give them positive sensory stimulation, which is an important part of doggy mental health.
- We can run errands with our pup, but don’t leave them in the car even for five or ten minutes.
- Take them to dog parks, human parks, dog-friendly shops, and pup-friendly events. This will help them learn proper socialization as well as engage and stimulate our dog’s mind.
- Let them stop and sniff on their walk. Given them a nice long lead and let them take their time.
Dog digestion is not only stimulated when dogs move around, similar to people, but it’s responsive to olfactory stimulation. Allowing our pup to stop and sniff the flowers encourages healthy digestion. EcoEats is also great for dog digestion. It’s all natural, grain-free, gluten-free, preservative-free, free from by-products, vet approved, and great for all life stages, It’s much easier on digestion than commercial food – just give it a try!