Keep your dog's mind active with fun and challenging brain workouts!
We all know how important it is to give your dog daily physical workouts, but it's equally important to give your dog mental exercise too. It doesn't matter if your dog is a purebred or a mix, you need to keep his mind occupied; otherwise, he's more likely to become bored and develop problem behaviors like chewing or digging. Let's get your dog thinking with these brain-teasing exercises.
Tricks and Training
Your dog is never too young or old to learn a new trick. It's a great form of mental exercise and it will also help you strengthen your bond with your dog. If you are trying to teach your pooch a complicated trick, work on it in stages over the course of a few days or weeks. Every step will offer excellent mental stimulation for your dog.
One type of interactive game is a doggy board game. Ranging from beginner to advanced, these games feature a number of obstacles your dog must complete in order to get a treat. Some incorporate a group of pegs that you hide treats under for your dog to find, while others involve a piece of plastic that the dog has to rotate to find the treat. Or go with a puzzle toy, which provides mental stimulation and treats. There are many options available and all incorporate treats to encourage your dog to figure out how to get it out.
Hide and Seek
Cover your eyes and count to 10. Hide and seek is an amazing game to play with your dog, and it keeps him mentally stimulated. Start by telling your dog to sit and stay and then find a hiding place somewhere in the house. When you're ready, call for your dog and wait for him to find you praise and reward him when he does.
Here's something to chew on: raw bones provide a great deal of stimulation for dogs (while also helping to keep their teeth clean). Your dog has to focus on the bone while chewing on it, which makes the gears in his head turn. Remember to always supervise your dog when he is chewing on a bone because it may break off and turn into a choking hazard. We're also big fans of filling a hollow marrow bone with Honest Kitchen's dehydrated food and freezing.
Warm up your throwing arm. Playing a game of fetch provides both physical and mental stimulation. It doesn't matter what you use to throw, as long as your dog will retrieve and drop in for you to throw again. Make sure your dog doesn't get bored with the game; change the direction you toss the item with each throw.
You'd think that dog sports are all about getting physical, but a big part of these activities provide lots of mental stimulation. Dog sports such as flyball and agility are fun, encourage thinking and provide a wonderful bonding experience.
Amy Tokic is the Editor of Petguide.com, the flagship site to over 70 different pet communities, which offers pet parents a one-stop-info-shop for all things dog and cat related. Amy's been with PetGuide since the beginning, guided by the wisdom of her Shih Tzu mix and furry roommate, Oscar. Together, this pet power couple has their paw on the pulse of the pet industry, sniffing out trends, advice, news, tasty treat recipes and other tail-wagging stories.