Undoubtedly, dogs make great running, hiking, and swimming companions. Just as much as they need physical exercise, however, they also need mental stimulation. Whether you have a puppy or a senior dog, keeping their curious minds active will make a huge difference in the wellbeing of your pet.
Get your furry friend’s brain in motion with these classic yet effective boredom-busting activities!
If your dog is getting a little on the pudgy side, or you’re just looking for some new ways to keep him busy, try a food puzzle. Check out treat puzzles like a Kong, or a Buster Cube. These puzzle toys are set up so that you can insert the treat, and your dog will need to shake, chew, or nudge the treat out to reach it.
Hide and Seek
If you don’t have a food puzzle, you can make one of your own by hiding treat cubes in your pet’s beds, or around the house. Hiding it in the yard may attract outdoor pests, but creating an obstacle course of furniture, cushions, and even the stairs in your home can keep your dog engaged. For a healthier version, forgo the treats, and use regular kibble. Make it more challenging the better your dog gets!
When hiding toys around the house gets to be old, switch to an outdoor obstacle course. You can purchase an obstacle course on Amazon to set up in your backyard, or even build jumps and rings with hula hoops or lawn furniture. Be sure to use positive reinforcement to help motivate and reward your pet. Remember, positive reinforcement doesn’t always mean treats, it could be as simple as exciting praise or a fun, new toy.
Hide The Toys
This one takes a bit of training. The first step is to choose a few of your pet’s favorite toys. By using names for each toy, you can teach your dog how to identify each toy. Once you’ve ensured your dog knows the name of each toy, try hiding them around the house. By asking for them by name, you can create a little hide and seek game, while your dog searches out each toy. With a little practice, you can even teach your pup how to clean up her own toys!
Which Hand Game
This one is really simple, but a lot of fun, and it’s a good way to keep your pup busy. Simply hide a treat in one hand, and put both hands behind your back. Once you reveal your hands again, have the dog choose which hand the treat is in. If he sniffs it out correctly, you can give him the treat. If not, have him try again. If this game is too easy, you can try it with three cups, like the old-fashioned cup and ball trick.
Learn a New Trick
We’ve all seen the performing dogs on America’s Got Talent and thought, “I wish my dog could do that!” Well, guess what? They can! With consistency and positive reinforcement, even an older dog can learn new tricks. Start with teaching your dog a basic new trick like handshaking, rolling over, or even learning a new word. You can also teach your pooch to recognize the names of toys, people, or places.
Different breeds, and in fact, different dogs, have different needs to keep them from getting bored. A bored, under-stimulated dog will chew, pace, and even leave messes on the carpet. A mentally stimulated pup is a happy pup, so try some of our tried and true brain-training activities!