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Let’s talk about how to stimulate your dog mentally to have themselves a more fulfilling life. Many dogs like challenges. They like to please their owners and learn new things. And, this gives them time with their best friends. Dogs need to be mentally challenged and offer play time. Remember, they only have you and you are their world. They respect you and love you unconditionally, why not give something back to them.
Here are 5 ways to do just that.
1. Seek things out
Some dogs are natural predators, well, all dogs started out that way but some breeds just aren’t. If you have a dog that likes to seek things out, tie something to the end of a string and wind it through a course of objects. Add maybe a treat smell to it and then show the dog and slowly, pull it through different things so it has to think. Maybe under a brush pile and through the broken fence. Act as if your hunting with him. In fact this is a great way to teach some hunting dogs. If you are a Coonhound dog owner, put some scent on it and drag around the yard and up the tree and down…eventually leaving it at its final spot for the dog to a tree. However, many dogs are like this. Retrievers were built to hunt and retrieve. Toss some up in the air and around the yard so they can pick them up.
2. Use their noses.
Most dogs have great noses and love to sniff for things. Play a game of hiding their food in little places. Burring a bone in the yard, things like this. They love to seek out things based on smell. It’s like an Easter egg hunt for the pooch. This can be very simple or complex. This is how the police train their dogs to seek out things. And, dogs by nature like to snoop and sniff. Let him find his treat next time instead of handing it to him. He will have fun with this game.
3. Use commands with your dog.
Once you have taught them to sit, then teach them to stay. As they start to walk away, they should remain in the stay. They love learning new tricks with their owners and love the stimulation it gives. Play hide and seek and tell him to stay and then you hide. Now, tell him to come and see him look for you using all his senses. This is great fun for all involved.
4. Get ready to have some real fun
Have an indoor day with no outside time? And, your dog is a high energy dog? Get him out of his comfortable dog bed and throw treats up or down a flight of stairs. Play with your buddy, get on the floor and wrestle with them. Play tug of war, but be careful as this one can get out of hand for some dogs. Tug of war can be a ton of fun though if done correctly.
5. Run wild – use your imagination
This isn’t complicated, they are dogs. You don’t need fancy bones and chew toys, just don’t use your clothing or kids’ toys as this confuses the dog thinking they can play with more of the person’s stuff. Hence shredded up shoes and beheaded Dolls.