As a dog parent, your number one priority is to keep your furry baby active, involved, and happy. Sadly, as much as you’d love to, you can’t devote every hour of every day tending to them.
That’s precisely why you should challenge your dog’s mind more every day.
Just like humans, dogs need constant mental stimulation to keep themselves sane, engaged, and healthy. Most of the time, your dog only acts out because he’s bored.
Keeping your dog stimulated intellectually, will keep you both happy and satisfied. If that perked up your ears, then keep reading to discover five easy ways to stimulate your dog’s mind.
Change Things Up
Just like humans, dogs thrive on routine. However, it’s never a good thing to fall into a rut. The same toys, food, games, and walking routes can get quite dull for your keen and clever canine.
But the key is changing things up while still maintaining a routine.
Let’s say you take your dog for a walk first thing in the morning every single day. So, you’ve got the routine part down. But this time, try taking a route that you’ve never taken before. For your dog, this will feel like a whole new world for him to explore.
Also, let your curious canine sniff around as much as he wants. While you can’t sense it, new scents will flood your dog’s sniffer and challenge your dog’s mind.
Similarly, you can maintain your dog’s routine while still introducing him to new things. This includes:
- Making him try new foods.
- Introducing him to new faces (fur and skin alike)
- Giving him new toys to play with
- Taking him to different dog parks
Teach Your Dogs New Commands
Have you ever been in complete awe of how your dog can pick up on your words, actions, and even routines?
The thing is, dogs are highly intelligent — way more than we give them credit for. Even if you’re the worst dog trainer in history, your dog can learn a new command in less than 10 minutes.
Of course, the more complex the trick is, the longer it will take your fur baby to learn. But that’s exactly the point!
“Sit,” “stay,” “rollover” — that’s baby stuff. As your furry friend gets older, he will want to impress you with more complex tricks such as barking on command.
But you don’t have to limit the commands to little tricks. Instead, you should incorporate behavioral training in every aspect of their lives.
That is, if they want food, they have to wait until you give them the go-ahead. If they’re going to enter the house after a long walk, they must wipe their feet first. The point here is to condition them to think about what they’re doing before they do it.
The best way to challenge your dog’s mind is — you guessed it — by teaching them to be more mindful of their actions.
Run Errands With Your Dog
Leaving the house without your furry friend and shutting the door on their faces is always heart-wrenching for all parties involved.
However, while you are busy running errands, your dog has nothing to do but wait for you to come home — often to the mess he made because he was bored or anxious.
So, why not avoid the heartbreak and the ensuing destruction altogether and take the little tyke with you?
If your dog is properly socialized, taking him on errand runs will be a breeze. But more importantly, your dog will be able to meet new faces, make new friends, and explore new areas of the city— all while you get your work done.
Give Your Dog A Job
Before dogs were man’s best friends, our canine companions were our helpers. The human-canine bond is as strong as it is today because of how the ancestral wolves would assist human hunter-gatherers in hunting. So, how did this symbiotic instinct dwindle over time?
Well, it didn’t!
Most modern dog breeds were bred with a specific purpose: herding sheep, retrieving game, or guarding their human companions. You can imagine, then, how bored and unfulfilled your dog must feel if he can’t do the very thing he was born to do.
However, you don’t necessarily have to take your Goldie out for hunting or your bloodhound on a manhunt. But what you can do is simulate those conditions in your home.
For example, German Shepherds are an excellent sniffer breed since they have a very active nose. To challenge your dog’s mind, you can hide treats all over the house and make him sniff them out.
But why stop there? While it’s challenging, training your four-legged friend to do jobs around the house can be exciting for both of you.
Teaching your dog to collect the garbage or fetch the groceries from the car can give him a sense of purpose and make him feel like an active member of the household.
Use Interactive Dog Games
Dogs are just like toddlers— even the senior ones. Give them a doggy board game or a puzzle, and they’ll be occupied for hours.
The best “puzzle” to challenge your dog’s mind is the trusty old Kong. Usually, new dog parents give their teething puppies a Kong so that they have something to chew, as well as an incentive to chew it.
If you don’t already know, Kong is a plastic toy that you can fill with dog treats. Then your dog has to keep chewing the Kong as it dispenses the treats slowly and over a long time.
If you want to push it, you can even get your dog a slow feeder. A slow feeder is good for mental stimulation and dog health since it forces them to chew their food properly and avoid overeating.
Just like you, your dogs need constant mental stimulation. Otherwise, they can start exhibiting behavioral issues such as excessive barking or destroying the cushions.
When it comes to dog health, exercising your dog’s mind is just as important as exercising his body. From teaching your dog to do some household chores to making him solve puzzles, there are countless ways you can challenge the dog’s mind.
Just remember: the key is to change things up constantly. With new things to learn and places to explore every week, your canine companion will never be bored again.
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