Does your dog get bored and you’re thinking of ways to change it?
Mental stimulation for the dog is equivalent if not more enriching than the physical exercise. For years we never paid much attention to mentally challenging our dogs- since they have food and water in their bowls and they are taken outside for a toilet break all their needs are met, right? Well.. we couldn’t be more wrong. Now, with ever increasing knowledge about animal behaviour and science backing it we are left with endless opportunities to improve our dog’s daily routines. Check out a few ways of what we can do to make our fur friend happier and their lives more fulfilled:
1. Nose work
It encourages your dog’s natural drive to hunt and it couples it with picking up scents and associating them with their sources
2. Teaching tricks
This exercise can be super beneficial for both you and your dog. It boosts your dog’s confidence, increases his focus and it strengthens the bond between the two of you.
3. The ‘Box exercise’
The concept behind it is to make your dog fearless, and mentally strong. It teaches the dog to stay in the behaviour despite of all the distractions around him. This exercise is amazingly explained by Pat Stuart from NePoPo- so go ahead and explore!
Learning how to go around obstacles is a very rewarding and enriching exercise for your dog. It keeps him active while mentally engaged all through the exercise.
5. Play with your dog
Fetch, tug, chase you name it. Study (Rooney et al. 2000) has shown an improvement in dog’s behaviour when they got to play with their owners more compared to only dog- to dog interaction. They have also observed a decrease in behavioural issues such as anxiety, fearfulness, aggression, whining, excessive digging, jumping up or poor recall.
6. Sniff and explore on walks
While humans use any opportunity to communicate through speech dogs, in contrast, perceive the world through their sense of smell. According to Horowitz (2017), dogs ‘have two dedicated, separate routes in their snouts for sniffing and breathing; they have elaborate bones in their nose that hold yet more olfactory tissue; they even exhale out the side slits of their nostrils in order not to disturb the odour that is coming in’.
7. The Name Game
By teaching your dogs words you stimulate his brain and keep them entertained. You can do this exercise with toys as well as treats hidden around the house. Start with teaching your dog names of his favourite toys and once he understands the concept of names start hiding them around the house asking your dog to find them for you.