Why do dogs need mental stimulation? Good ways to challenge your dog's mind
Physical exercise is great and most definitely needed for a dog, but it’s only half of the equation. Many hyperactivity and destruction problems can be resolved by adding mental exercise to your dog’s daily life.
Before becoming our best friends and companions, dogs were living in the wild. They had important jobs to do each day, just like us. They had to find food, establish safe places to stay, manage interactions with others and protect their family. All of these jobs require use of their brain and they really do have good brains – if only we gave them the chance to actually use them. Mental stimulation is very important to dogs’ quality of life and the best way to provide this is by giving them different ways to use their nose.
Here are some of the best ways to help stimulate your dog's mind:
Change the route when walking your dog. Walking your dog is something you need to do but it can get boring for both of you if you always follow the same route. Try to go through different routes and let your dog decide where he wants to go. The smell of different surroundings will help to stimulate your dog mentally.
Take your dog to new places and let your friend sniff & explore. Dogs need the stimulation of new things. Go to a new adventure with your dog and let the dog smell new sites, it does wonders for your dog’s mental acuity. It can be a parking lot, camping site, or a new park where to play with your dog. The newer the place, the more exciting it is for your dog. Offering new experiences is a good way to keep your furry friend mentally stimulated. Remember - dogs analyze things with their nose, not just visually.
Set up a treat search. Cut little pieces of treats and scatter them around in grass or on the floor and let your dog search for them. If you think it will create too much mess, snuffle mats create a similar challenge and contain the food in one place.
Get your dog a puzzle toy. Puzzle toys are an easy way to keep your furry pal entertained. Interactive toys and puzzles keep your dog focused on a task and even one 10-15 minute game every day can make a big difference to your dog. Interactive toys are awesome because they give your dog a chance to use their natural problem solving skills and tire them out mentally. Some of the examples: Kong toys, muffin tin & tennis balls game (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFnWnejG_IU), Nina Ottoson puzzles etc.
Rotate out your dog toys. Many dogs are lucky to have a bin full of toys but still seem to get bored. Even if you bring new toys, they will only keep your dog entertained for a little while. You can solve this issue with a quick hack: just rotate your dog’s toys. Change up a new toy with one that your dog has had for years and switch them up after some time. Your dog will be just as excited as when he gets a new toy.