Mental stimulation for dogs is as important as physical stimulation. It is a very helpful way to help burn your dog’s excess energy. Dogs who are under-stimulated are more often the ones that show undesirable and bad behaviors like excessive chewing, aggressiveness, excessive barking since they will need to do something to burn off excess energy.
With more pet parents currently working at home during these times, mental stimulation for dogs becomes more important to be added in day-to-day activities. In this article, we have come up with a few tips and tricks on how you can keep your fur-baby mentally stimulated – which will result in them being happier and healthier.
What is mental stimulation for dogs?
Mental stimulation for dogs is defined as any activity that stimulates and enriches your fur-baby’s mind and mental capacities. Mental stimulation can either be implemented from your dog’s thinking (thought) or from external factors (environment).
Important contributors to your dog’s mental stimulation include socialization, playtimes, leisure activities, and even as simple as during meal times!
Ways to mentally stimulate your dog
Here are simple ways you can incorporate mental stimulation for your dog in your day-to-day activities:
Make your dog work for their food
Have your fur-baby work for their food. We’re sure that your dog is as pampered as possible and pretty much has everything handed to them, especially their food! Well, that is completely normal and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with what you’re doing. But as dogs’ historic habits are concerned, they actually have the desire to scavenge for their food.
To be able to incorporate mental stimulation for dogs during meal times, change your dog’s feeding style. This time, instead of just setting down your dog’s food bowl and letting them indulge in the tasty meal, ask them to sit down first, command them to stay, and not touch the food yet. If your dog follows all the commands, then allow them to eat. If they don’t, it’s okay! Practice makes perfect. Continue doing so until your fur-baby learns how to.
You can also opt to use a slow feeder as a food bowl. A slow feeder is actually a bowl that is specifically designed for your dog to work for their meal (providing mental stimulation) and prevent them from eating too fast.
Allow your dog to sniff and explore
Walking is something that both you and your dog look forward to. It can also be considered by your dog as one of their day’s most exciting parts as they will be able to explore their surroundings. As Found Animals said, “[a dog’s] nose is like a second pair of eyes for them. Exploring the world with their nose is a terrific mental workout.”
To incorporate mental stimulation while walking, allow your dog to stop and sniff the things around them. This will allow your dog to take in all the different and interesting smells. To make things more exciting, take various routes every day so your dog can check out and explore new sights and smells. If you are not okay with letting your fur-baby sniff things they come across during walks, designate areas where your dog can freely sniff.
Teach new tricks
Does your fur-baby already know how to sit, stay, and come? Good! But did you know that you can teach your fur-baby a lot more new tricks than just the basic ones?
Teaching your fur-baby new tricks and commands is one way you can include mental stimulation for dogs in your daily life. You can teach your dog to roll over, to fetch, and to pee only on the designated area(s) at home. Not only do these tricks, commands, and training help stimulate your dog mentally but will also help develop their confidence, overcome their shyness, increase their focus, control their impulses, and strengthen the bond & communication between the two of you.
Engage in interactive plays
Interactive playing with your dog is probably considered one of the easiest ways to mentally stimulate them. Interactive plays are when you and your dog actively play and engage with each other. A game of fetch is an interactive play. A game of playing balls is an interactive play. And there are a lot more that’s left for you to explore. These games and activities offer your dog more mental stimulation.
Engage in brain games
According to the Animal Humane Society, brain games are puzzles, toys, and activities that encourage your dog to experiment and problem solve. They’re great for dogs who have the energy to burn and are especially helpful for dogs with anxiety or high energy.
Brain Games help develop your fur-baby’s mental ability and learning capacity. Brain games include games for your dog that require thinking and problem-solving, like hide and seek, treasure hunting, and a lot more. Read more about the many other brain games for dogs here.
Offer a great chewing experience
Yes, chewing mentally stimulates your fur-baby. The act of chewing keeps your dog’s mind busy and their taste buds satisfied. We know that you are probably worried about your fur-baby having to chew the legs of your furniture, or your slippers and shoes at home and the dangers chewing might cause to your dog. But you can always dog-proof your house and provide only premium chews, like Gnawtlers®.
Gnawtlers® are deer & elk antler chews for dogs that offer your fur-baby the best and safest gnawing experience. These chews are all-natural as they are naturally-shed and do not contain any artificial dyes and flavoring. These also vary from split to half antlers, so you’ll have a lot of chews to choose from depending on your fur-baby’s chewing personality. What’s even better? Gnawtlers® are full of nutrients, so your dog does not only get mentally stimulated but healthy as well!
Mental stimulation for dogs is also as important as the physical ones. It helps boost your dog’s confidence, increase their focus and concentration, control their impulses, curb undesirable behaviors, and even helps in strengthening your relationship together. Learn to balance both physical and mental needs and you’ll see how happier and healthier your fur-baby will become!