Mental Exercise is Just as Important as Physical Exercise!
Something a lot of dog owners forget, is that mental stimulation is just as important as physical stimulation! Whether you're stuck inside on a rainy day, or have some extra time in the morning before heading to work, here are some activities you can do at home with your dog to make sure they are getting the mental exercise they need.
#1. "Find the Toy" Game
This game might take some practice, but it can provide an abundance of fun once your dog gets the hang of it!
Here's how to start: choose one of your dog’s favorite toys and let him get a good sniff of it. Then drop it several steps away and say “find it.” Your dog will naturally go to the toy, so when he goes to touch it, be sure to give him praise and a yummy treat!
It's Time For a Challenge
After some repetition of the easy version of the game, it’s time to make things more challenging. Instead of placing the toy within reach, get your dog to “stay” or "wait" and put it on the floor in another room. Release him from "stay" or “wait,” say “find it”, and then give a praise and/or treat when he finds the toy!
#2. "Name the Toy" Game
This is a variation of the “Find The Toy” game. The goal is to teach your dog the name of a few favorite toys. By the end, he should be able to retrieve a toy by name, even when it's surrounded by other toys!
Remember to start slowly with this game, as learning new words takes a lot of patience and repetition. When you first teach the name, for example, "ball", be sure that the ball is the only toy in sight, to prevent confusion. As your dog starts to associate the word with the toy, start slowly adding other toys around it.
Time to Take it to the Next Level
Once your dog has learned one toy's name, you can build his toy vocabulary to make the game more challenging. The vocabulary record is held by a Border Collie named Chaser who knows over 1,000 words! But keep in mind, even learning two or three words can be rather tiring for most dogs!
#3. "Treat Under Cup" Game
This is paws down one of the best games for getting your dog's brain working on overdrive.
Begin with three plastic cups and one of your dog’s favorite treats. Line up the cups in a row, then make it very obvious you are placing the treat under one of the cups. When your dog touches the correct cup with his paw or nose, praise him and reveal what's under the cup so he can eat the treat!
Time to Mix Things Up
Once your dog understands the point of the game, start moving the correct cup a short distance away and try again. Once you've repeated this multiple times, you can even try building up the difficulty by mixing all the cups around!
We hope you enjoyed learning about these 3 ways to keep your dog mentally stimulated! If you have any fun games you like to play, let us know in the comments below.
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