Providing Mental Stimulation for Dogs

border collie dog playing frisbee outside mentally stimulated

Providing Mental Stimulation for Dogs

It’s essential that your dog not only gives their body a work-out, but their brain too!

Mental stimulation is a key component in your dog’s happiness. They are curious and clever creatures, and by engaging in certain brain games, you can help improve their mood, behaviour, and sleep routine. Bored or less mentally stimulated dogs can become irritated, destructive, and even depressed.

In this blog, we will explore the different ways you can get creative for your dog’s mental enrichment, and our top recommendations on the best toys and games to keep their mind as active as their body!

Why Do Dogs Need Mental Stimulation?

Active dogs need plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation to keep them on their best behaviour. Dogs can sometimes get bored of the same routine every day, so consistently exposing them to new things is just as important as taking them on walks. Dogs that are bored or are not receiving enough mental exercise can take their frustration out via destructive behaviour like chewing furniture. Dogs who are not mentally challenged seek out their own entertainment leading to misbehaviour. Hence why it is essential you can control that behaviour in the form of mentally stimulating brain games and toys.

Best Ways To Mentally Stimulate Your Dog

New Tricks

Whether you’re a new puppy parent or have owned a dog for years, it’s never too early or late to teach a dog new tricks. Training sessions are a fantastic way to keep your dog mentally stimulated. If you’re ready to move past the basic commands like sit, stay or recall, why not teach them some new tricks-like retrieving certain items, pawshakes, or agility/obstacle courses.

Interactive toys

Enrichment toys are designed specifically to keep your dog interested and entertained. These types of toys can help stimulate our pets both physically and mentally to help limit boredom, anxiety and other unwanted behaviours. Finding the best dog toy for your dog is going to be dependent on their play style, age and size (to reduce the chance of a choking hazard). These toys will also likely stimulate more than one of your pet’s five senses: taste, touch, hearing, sight and smell.

Food and puzzle toys can be a great way to arouse your dog’s sense of smell and taste. Pick out toys made with different materials and textures to stimulate your pets’ sense of touch. Squeaky and crinkle toys can help rouse your dog’s sense of hearing, too.

KONG Ogee Dog Toy

Give Them a Job

Dogs are bred to complete tasks such as hunting and herding. Depending on what breed group your dog belongs to, you can find some extremely fulfilling jobs for your dog. Dogs that were originally bred for these tasks can often get restless, so we recommend finding out what breed group your dog belongs to and creating a challenge based on that. Who knows-you might find you have your own servant in the house!

Have a Play Date

If your dog is fully vaccinated and comfortable around other dogs, why not organise a play date? Social situations can provide great mental stimulation for our pooches. Invite a fellow pet parent and their dog over for a doggie play date. Let the pups interact with some supervision, but let them sort out the dynamics of their new relationship as independently as possible. This way, your dog can improve his social skills and get a brain workout at the same time. It’s a win-win!

How much mental stimulation does a dog need?

As a minimum, you should aim to include 30 minutes of play for your dog per day, split between 2 x 15 minute sessions. The specific amount of mental stimulation a dog needs will be dependent on their breed, age, size and health conditions, so it’s important to observe your dog and adjust the amount of play to individual needs. Generally speaking, larger high-energy breeds require more mental stimulation than smaller ones.

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