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Mental Exercise Is Just as Important as Physical Exercise!
What are the simplest ways to keep your dog mentally stimulated? Good question and we have the answer! Pet parents sometimes forget that mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise.
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 stimulation they need.
#1. “Find the Toy” Game
One of the easiest ways to keep your dog mentally stimulated doesn’t take much effort at all but will go a long way in keeping your pooch alert and excited. Even better, this activity doesn’t cost any money, just some of your time!
Some dogs will get the hang of this game right off the bat, while it may take a bit longer for other dogs to learn it. No matter what, it can be loads of fun once your four-legged buddy gets the hang of it.
Here’s how to play the game. Choose one of your dog’s favorite toys and let them 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, train 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 praise and/or treat when he finds the toy!
#2. “Name the Toy” Game
Here is another way to keep your dog mentally stimulated. This is a variation of the “Find The Toy” game. The goal is to teach your dog the names of their favorite toys. By the end, they 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. To prevent confusion, remove all the other dog toys and only keep the one you’ll be using. For example, when you train your dog that one of his toys is called a “ball,” be sure that the ball is the only toy around.
As your dog starts to associate the word with the toy, start slowly adding other toys around it. If you have an older dog and are worried they will not be able to learn the names, don’t fret, they will! Pups to senior dogs are capable of learning new things.
Time to Take It to the Next Level
Once your dog has learned one toy’s name, you can add more toys to make the game more challenging. The vocabulary record is held by a Border Collie named Chaser who knew over 1,000 words! Chaser lived a long and very enlightening life, showcasing that dogs were very smart. She died at the ripe old age of 15.
Keep in mind, learning two or three words can be rather tiring for most dogs so don’t set out to break Chaser’s record. The key is having fun with your four-legged buddy. Whether they know one or 100 words, as long as they are enjoying themselves, that’s the goal. We’re not encouraging you to break any records, we’re just here to provide ways for you to keep your dog mentally stimulated!
#3. “Treat Under Cup” Game
This is paws down one of the best games for getting your dog’s brain to work 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!
Seems easy enough to do and it is. The only thing to keep in mind is not to allow your dog to knock down all the cups. The goal is for them to use their noses and sniff out the cup with the treat hidden in it.
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 three ways to keep your dog mentally stimulated! If you have any fun games you like to play, let us know in the comments below.