Mental stimulation for dogs – an owners guide

by Amy Cooper
Mental stimulation

Mental stimulation is very important for all dogs but especially breeds that were originally bred to work. This is because they can become very hyper or destructive if they don’t have the correct outlets for their energy. 

What is mental stimulation?

Mental stimulation basically consists of working your dogs head because a mentally stimulated dog is a happy dog! I will go into different ways you can do this later in the blog. 

Why is it so important?

This is so important because dogs were bred to use their brains – especially working dogs! Normal walks don’t provide enough mental stimulation for a dog. So, if that is all you do for a dog you can expect it to be hyper and destructive. To enable your dog to be calm and quiet you will need to help it use its brain as well as physically exercise it.

Different methods of mental stimulation:

There are many many different methods of mental stimulation, but I will be going over some of my personal favourites that are easy to do at home.

Training – This is the most obvious form of mental stimulation. Simply teach your dog some new tricks or reinforce old ones. All you need to do this is food or your dogs favourite toy! One of my top tips for training is to use your dogs meals as their reward.

Hide and seek – This is a nose game where you hide treats or your dogs favourite toy around the house for them to sniff out. This is particularly rewarding for scent orientated dogs like hounds.

Puzzle toys – This is a good one for if you don’t have a lot of time to help your dog work their brain. All you have to do is hide food in the puzzle toy and give it to your dog. You can purchase puzzle toys very easily from many different shops or even make your own! 

Obstacle course – This one takes quite a lot more effort but can be verry rewarding for your dog. I think it’s pretty self-explanatory but for this you will need to set up an obstacle course for your dog. It could include tunnels, jumps, mazes and different textures. Then all you have to do is call your dog through the course.

Interactive play – This one varies from dog to dog depending on what they find the most rewarding. Some dogs will want to play tug of war and others will want a good game of fetch. But the key to this one is that your dog is playing with you not other dogs or on its own! You could even incorporate some training into interactive play. 

Give your dog a job to do – The job you give your dog is really up to you, but it can be as simple as just getting your dog to carry something for you. Dogs find it extremely rewarding to work for their owners so all dogs will love this. 

Finally make sure you and your dog enjoy mental stimulation and enjoy having a calm and happy dog!

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