Updated: Jan 16
Mental and physical stimulation is necessary for a well-balanced dog. Just how we get bored from time to time, our four-legged companions experience boredom as well. I know I don't enjoy being bored, so it's safe to assume that our dogs don't enjoy it either. So let's get this ball rolling with some helpful tips and tricks in regards to keeping your dog entertained.
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The Daily Stroll
Taking your dog out for a walk so they can get some exercise is only part of the experience. Your neighborhood and local parks are filled with an array of smells (information) that your dog is itching to sniff. A dog's primary sense is its sense of smell, which provides them with loads of information and is essential for mental stimulation. According to the American Kennel Club, "Humans have only 5–6 million scent receptors in our noses. Depending on the breed, dogs have up to 100 million or more scent receptors in their noses. And those terrific trackers we know as Bloodhounds have 300 million!". So it's important to give your dog a chance to sniff out their surrounding environment. As a professional dog walker, I'd suggest a structured walk for mental stimulation. it will be better to allow set times as allowing the entire walk to be free time, they’ll begin creating the bad habit of pulling every which way. You can train a “sniff” time or allow them to take a moment to explore their surroundings. Give them different routes and environments too as locations can easily become stale. As a little homework, try finding 5 trails near where you live that can be put in a rotation. It can be in the hills or around different city blocks, it’s more about changing the scenery than anything else. New information will tire them out too, thus rescuing the legs of your sofa.
Another way to stimulate your dog's mind is puzzle toys! There is quite a number to choose from, my personal favorite puzzle toys come from Trixie this brand has some highly rated options that will test your pet's mind on a daily basis. KONG's Trusted Classic Rubber Toy can be filled up with treats, kibble, KONG easy treat, and peanut-butter (be extra careful because the sugar substitute ‘Xylitol’ is toxic to dogs and can be found in some nut-butter brands). For an added challenge you can stuff and freeze them for 4-6 hours which can come in handy during those hot summer days. I like to use the KONG wobbler as a slow feeder for my dogs, it is very mentally stimulating for them and it also helps with digestion.
Teach Your Dog A New Trick
When was the last time you taught your dog a new trick? Teaching your dog a new trick can be just as fun for you as it is for your dog! Most pet parents teach their dogs the basics like sit, stay, and come. The basics act as a stable foundation for a well-behaved dog. "You can't teach an old dog a new trick" I've heard that phrase too many times to count and I beg to differ. Teaching your dog a new trick is not only mentally stimulating but it's a wonderful bonding experience as well. There are a variety of cool tricks that you can choose from, here are a few of my personal favorites, peek-a-boo, high five, spin, and play dead! Sometimes it could take as little as 5 minutes or less to learn a new trick. Some tricks can take longer to learn depending on the level of difficulty and your dog's breed, some dog breeds are just easier to train than others.
It's in Their Bones
I can't stress enough about how mental and physical stimulation is necessary for a well-balanced dog. Your dog is a natural traveler who loves to explore its surroundings, that's why the daily walks are so important. It’s one of the most important aspects of their life. Keep your dog happy and healthy by taking them on daily walks, teaching them new tricks, and giving them puzzles and toys that help stimulate that doggone mind of theirs.
If you enjoyed this post check out How To Train Your Dog To Stop Pulling On Leash