Jeff Tinsley is the owner and behavior therapist at Sound Animals Dog Training. He specializes in rescue/shelter dogs, and behavior modification. His nearly 20 years of experience working with anxiety, fear, and aggression issues.
How important is mental exercise?
Mental exercise can have more impact on the dog’s daily life even more than taking him on a good run. Mental exercise can be very simple and very beneficial.
How to mentally exercise your dog?
For instance, when you take them on a walk, don’t always go on the same route. Also, allowing your dog to sniff a lot while they are on their walk and let them explore is very beneficial to them. The idea that your dog has to walk beside you on the walk is ridiculous. Especially when you think about that the dog is actually wired to be out exploring the world around them. And they need that to function properly. Change up the way you feed them. Sometimes you put the food in the bowl, but you make them sit and stay in some place new. Sometimes you hide the bowl. Sometimes you put it in a food toy. Sometimes you put them into a sit and stay in one room and put the food in another room.
How to stimulate your dog mentally?
Just as we get bored in the same routines, dogs do too. This boredom can lead to unwanted behavior, such as chewing, digging, licking paws and more. Changing the dog’s routine is important and easier than you think. Rotating toys, adding puzzles and interactive toys to the mix are some easy ways to keep your dog guessing what’s next. Playing hide and seek, asking your dog to perform commands during walks and allowing your dog to explore new places are only some of the ways to mentally stimulate your dog. Participating in activities such as agility, hunting, swimming and playing fetch are other fun ways that you can interact with your dog on both physical and mental levels.