If you have been contemplating how to help your dog get the mental stimulation he needs while also keeping him happy and occupied, you might consider making some fun brain games an addition to his daily routine.
Our dog’s life is enriched when we provide him with something meaningful to do, and mental stimulation fits the bill very well. Mentally stimulating activities also alleviate boredom, which can prevent the likelihood of his forming any destructive habits like inappropriate chewing or excessive barking.
Here are 3 ways you can provide your dog with mental stimulation (there will be more coming, as this is a 3 part series).
1. Have your dog work for their food
When it comes to his meals, your dog has a pretty sweet set up. He does not have to work for it; you simply place his food into his bowl day in and day out. While there is nothing wrong with this, it is a far cry from their natural instincts and scavenging urges. This being said, a wonderful way to bring more mental stimulation into your dog’s day is to change up his eating routine. Rather than hanging his food over to him however many times a day, you can create a fun game for him.
You can utilize a food dispensing toy, when you measure out your dog’s food, place it into the toy, and give it to him to play with. He will need to roll it about and around to retrieve his food. While this can be a bit of a noisy meal, it is well worth it as far as he is concerned; he will feel incredibly satisfied.
2. Let your dog sniff & explore on walks
Getting outdoors to go for a walk is a practice your dog looks forward to every single day. You can arrange for more mental stimulation by allowing him to stop along the way to sniff and explore more than usual. True as it may be that walking is great physical exercise, dogs also see it as an exploration opportunity. You may have made a million trips up and down your road thus far, but he is still able to sense new and exciting things to investigate every day.
If you are uncomfortable granting your dog the lead on your walks, you can assign particular areas or times for free roam in sniffing. Just be sure you teach him a command like “go sniff”, and let him scrutinize his surroundings for a short while. You might be surprised to learn just how tired a dog will be after a walk where he utilized his exploration skills as opposed to a simple, straight path.
3. Get your dog a puzzle toy
Another simple way to keep your dog occupied and entertained is to get him a puzzle toy. An interactive toy like a puzzle toy aids in keeping your dog focusing on a task. This additional mental stimulation will go a long way. Even one short, 15 minute game per day can make an enormous difference for him. It will provide him with something to focus on, and this will help prevent behavioral issues.
Another benefit of puzzle toys is that it allows your dog the opportunity to utilize his natural problem solving skills; this can also build his confidence and wear him out mentally.