Just as your dog needs physical exercise, exercising your dog’s brain is important as well. Dogs who are bored may become destructive. They may even turn into couch potatoes. Neither of these scenarios are good for your pup’s health. Just like humans, they need to be active, both mentally and physically to remain healthy. A good rule is to spend a total of about 2 hours daily interacting with your dog. It is also a good idea to change the activities so that it doesn’t become routine and boring. Something as simple as taking your dog on a different route for his daily walks. A change in direction can offer stimulation in the form of new smells to process which will offer them new mental challenges. See: Let Your Dog Sniff
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Here are some other ideas to keep him thinking!
You can spend some together time training. While you are teaching your pup important skills, he is processing and storing information.
Learn a new trick:
Teaching him a new trick can be fun for both of you. Your dog will be challenged to do something new, and you benefit from the results of having your slippers brought to you when you come home!
You can bounce or roll a ball around indoors, or you can throw it outdoors. Your doggo will enjoy the playtime and will get to chase and find the ball when it lands. This encourages sniffing and natural hunting skills.
Playing catch will provide physical exercise while offering the opportunity to incorporate extreme concentration and timing to be able to judge the timing of the ball’s movement.
Hide and Seek:
You can hide your dog’s toy or some treats and have him find them. This also utilizes hunting skills and let’s your dog sniff it out!
If you are able to take your dog to a hiking trail, he will love investigating all of the new sites and smells. The physical challenges are great for his body. Navigating the obstacles on a trail will also provide exercise for your dog’s brain.
Fetch involves sniffing, finding, retrieving and returning. This simple game offers deductive skills, recall skills and information processing as well as some physical exercise. Dog’s love it!
Kong Treat Toy:
Filling a Kong with a healthy treat or even kibble keeps your pup busy for quite a while. He has to figure out how to get the treats from inside the Kong. This forces him to focus and find ways to manipulate the toy so that he can be rewarded with a treat. This is something you can leave for your pup if you are away from home for a few hours.
One of the unique ways I spend time playing with my dog is playing with a laser pointer. He just loves to chase that little red dot all over the living room. He can do this for quite a while and is exhausted when we stop. The process he is using to foresee where the laser will go next is exercising his brain while the running and chasing offers physical benefits.
Do you and your dog have any unusual interaction games? Please let me know so that I can try them with my doggo!