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Before getting into a serious question of how to mentally stimulate your dog, ask yourself- Why do you get a free tongue bath after going home to your dog?
Apart from the fact that you probably smell after a day of hard work, what else can inspire your four-pawed housemate to groom you?
The answer is simple. Your dog considers you as one of their own and perhaps, you need a sexy, slick-back look. On a serious note, it is time to understand your companion better.
How to Mentally Stimulate Your Dog?
A dog is considered to be a man’s best friend. Not only are dogs known for their loyalty but also for being living balls of fluff and joy. Now, just like their human companions, dogs can get bored too.
If a human being’s mind needs constant stimulation and dopamine boost to stay interested, a dog’s mind needs proper mental stimulation as well. Read on to find out how to mentally stimulate your dog!
Maybe that is why dog owners get slobbered over with saliva once they return to their homes. A few treats are not enough to keep your dog engaged. It is understandable when you become their entertainment after work. Drenched in puppy love, literally.
So, how to keep your dog busy? How do you make sure that your dog is happy, active, and healthy? Dog owners, gather around and put your paws up. We are going to get busy as we conspire to find creative ways to keep the fluff balls1 mentally stimulated.
1. Understand Your Dog
To mentally stimulate your dog, it is important to understand their signs. Pitiful whines and rumbling moans can easily be noticed. However, sometimes, mental fatigue makes dogs suffer silently. This can be a result of fear or anxiety or distress, which can be a response to various reasons.
Wish your furry pal2 could just talk, that would have been wonderful! Just you and your dogs against the whole world.
Let us go through different ways you can understand your dog(s) better:
1.1. Tucking their Tail in Between their Legs
Ever noticed your dog with its tail pointing down to the ground or tucked between its thighs? Usually, it signifies anxiety or fear in a dog.
A confident and happy dog walks with their tail held up just like a confident human being walking with their heads up. Did you notice the similarities?
1.2. Licking Like You are their Next Treat
Generally, it is a sign of affection. However, obsessive licking can be a sign of anxiety in your dog and their need to be carefully tended to. A dog lick mat can relieve them from their boredom till you can go back home to become one of their toys again.
1.3. Frequent Head-shakes
After a bath, your dog tends to shake it off (not Taylor Swift’s version). Debris 3or water droplets cause discomfort, leading to adorable head or full-body shakes.
1.4. Eating Grass Instead of their Favorite Treat
The treats you offer seem to repulse your dog. Instead, does your neighbour’s grass look greener to them? Perhaps, it is time for you to include more delicious and nutrient-packed treats during mealtime or seek professional help.
2. Why is it Important to Mentally Stimulate Your Dog?
Before diving into the ways, knowing the cause is important. Listed below are a few of the reasons:
2.1. To Alleviate Boredom
Dogs might need to amuse themselves. You might have seen your dog tearing up your house and various objects or barking excessively. Many toys and treats might not be enough to stimulate your dog.
Sometimes, the toys and treats can be switched to newer and better versions. On the other hand, the way you present them can be made more interesting and fun.
2.2. To Lessen Hyperactivity and Stress
Find ways to mentally stimulate your dog. A busy dog is a happy dog. A physically tired dog after mentally stimulating activities and fun games will be a satisfied dog.
Thus, your dog’s brain will not have the space to plot mischiefs like tearing down your favourite pyjamas or your favourite fur coat.
2.3 Bond with Your Dog
Bond with your dog by taking your dog to a dog park, working on tasks like agility training and command training, or just playing fetch. Brain games not only engage the dogs but also the dog owners.
Coming up with different strategies to tempt your goofballs and organizing them is a wonderful way to get emotionally and mentally closer to them.
2.4. Physical Efforts
Physical effort and long walks out in the parks for some fresh air can help your dogs physically. Similarly, mentally stimulating activities are workouts for the brain to avoid cognitive dysfunctions and premature aging.
3. Mentally Stimulate Your Dog in 20 Easy Ways
3.1. Have Your Dog Work for Their Food
Training your dog to perform a task before you give them their favourite treats is a way to keep them mentally involved.
Not only is it a physical activity but also trains your dog’s mind to understand that they will be rewarded after fulfilling their work. This will turn your dog into a very distinguished gentleman or lady.
3.2. Stimulating Your Dog’s Brain By Chewing (The Right Things)
Dogs tend excessively chewing. For young dogs, it’s a way to relieve pain and the ticklish feeling that might be caused by developing teeth.
For older dogs, it’s a natural way of keeping their jaws strong and teeth clean. Chewing also combats boredom, anxiety, or frustration. A treat ball or a chewing toy can be a new trick that can be introduced.
3.3. Get Your Dog a Puzzle Toy
Puzzle toys help to develop your dog’s cognitive skills. Not only does it stimulate a dog’s brain but also helps them to figure out solutions to problems. Your dog could earn the title of the hot nerd among other dogs, the next time they meet at a social gathering.
3.4. Teach Your Dog Some New Tricks
A fun game, a clever trick, or a smart habit can easily make your dog more interested in the art of living. Also, you can get creative and mischievous with the ways you can introduce your dog to some new tricks.
3.5. Play Some Nose Work Games
Hiding toys and treats around the house or on the lawn is another way to keep dogs mentally stimulated. An excellent example of day training, scent games enhance their sniffing abilities. At night, they will be satisfied and tired and sleep better.
3.6. Utilizing All Senses for Dog Mental Stimulation
A scavenger hunt or a treasure hunt ensures the stimulation of all the senses of your dog. Not only is this a form of physical exercise but also mental stimulation.
As a dog owner, hide treats and toys without a strong scent (easy is boring) and let them detect them with their sense of smell.
3.7. Teach Your Dog the Names of Their Toys
We have all done that. Talked to animals, especially if we have a pet. So, combine your human language with your human paws (hands) and teach your dog the way their toys sound.
In other words, train your dog to recognize names and respond to them even if it leads to excessive barking and low rumblings of frustration. Secretly, they are appreciating; your hard work and dedication.
3.8. Teach Your Dogs to Help with the Chores
Well, they can not just live rent-free no matter how adorable, heart-warming, and amazing they are. Let them use their fangs to help you with laundry and carrying lightly unbreakable things like a shopping bag or a fruit. Reward them with a treat every time they finish a task.
3.9. Make an Obstacle Course for Your Dog
Hardships make us stronger, smarter, and braver. The same applies to your dog. Keep blunt and harmless objects like a traffic cone or a chair your dog has to jump over or veer off of to move forward.
Brain games like this challenge your dog to do better and live actively. An active dog is full of life and vitality.
3.10. Give Your Dog Some Obedience Training
Every time they do a job that is good or useful for their well-being, give them treats. Obedience is a way to make sure that they are in control when they feel threatened and emotional.
They can stay safe from the consequences of their own impulsive and instinctive actions under the shield of reason and logic.
This will prevent your dog from doing destructive things like jumping into dangerous places or trying to bite random strangers. Also, your dog will become more protective of you if they sense danger.
3.11. Regular Dog Toys
Playing with those toys with your dog will activate your child-like spirit and remind you that there is more to life than obligations, paying bills, and growing up.
Your dog understands love and joy and lives life through the innocent lens of a child, carefree and trusting. Maybe you can connect to this feeling too.
3.12. Play the Shell Game with Your Dog
In this game, you’ll place a treat or toy underneath one of three or four overturned cups and wait for your dog to guess which cup has the treat or toy. If your dog guesses correctly, he gets a delicious treat.
3.13. Dogs Love to Play Hide-and-Seek
Who doesn’t? Society has shamed our innocence and childlike wonder for us to grow into boring and grumpy adults. It is time to bring back the magic of childhood as you play hide-and-seek with your dog.
With their sniffing power, they will surely be able to locate their human friend. If they can’t, do not forget to tease them with love.
3.14. This New Twist to “Fetch” will Keep Your Dog Guessing
When you say fetch, you pretend to throw a Frisbee but in reality, you don’t throw it. Let your dog keep guessing where it went flying off.
This is to mentally stimulate their dog as their mind keeps guessing and searching for the Frisbee. Get ready for a paw attack when you finally reveal the actual location of the Frisbee.
3.15. This Magic Trick will be Your Dog’s New Favorite Game
Your magic tricks might be the laughingstock for your human friends. However, your living ball of fluff will be impressed and wonderstruck when you show them the way a coin disappears into thin air.
3.16. Puppy Push-Ups
Who said exercise is boring? Bring your dog and do push-ups while they sit on your back. Not only will you automatically keep your posture accurate to prevent your furry pal from falling, but also it will be fun for your dog.
3.17. Dogs Love the Tennis Ball and Muffin Tin Game
Similar to the shell game, treats will be hidden in each cup of a muffin tin and covered with tennis balls. Your dog will have to use their nose and their memory to remember which treat(s) they’ve grabbed from the muffin tin.
They will have to find creative ways to remove the balls from the muffin tin to reveal the treats and eat them after that.
3.18. Try Dog Agility Training
Make your dog run through hoops and rings in your backyard. This will inspire your dog to be more agile and swift as its brain will think of ways to move through the hoops.
It is an excellent way to make sure that your dog keeps in shape and is mentally invested in their actions.
3.19. A Long Walk
This a simple yet effective way to ground yourself as you make the life of your dog healthy and interesting. Meeting kind old people, loud and innocent kids, and gentle and loving dog lovers can be rewarding to the mental and emotional health of both you and your dog.
In particular, getting to interact with other dogs will have a positive effect on your dog’s social skills. After all, a social creature like a dog has similar needs as a social being such as a man.
A long walk in the park or near a fountain or lake can be a relief from the stuff indoors your house. A break from the mundane four walls of your house will be a natural and healthy dopamine boost for your dog and you.
3.20. Teach Them Simple Commands
To mentally stimulate your dog, also teach them commands as this will urge them to learn to follow commands and have fun while having discipline. The training process strengthens the bond between a dog and its owner or trainer.
This will make your dog feel closer to you. Also, don’t forget to give them their well-deserved treat once they are successful. So, mentally stimulate your dog whenever required.
4. Your Dog Needs More Stimulation Than Provided
4.1. How to Tell?
If your dog is unusually restless or grumpy, it is time you make changes to your dog’s mental diet. If you hear excessive barking or notice unfinished meals, your dog might be unhappy. Remember, it is important to mentally stimulate your dog.
4.2. The Mental Diet
Yes, the input that your dog mentally receives and interprets daily, forms a huge part of your dog’s attitude and personality. In other words, the mental diet of your dog is equally as important as their physical diet.
4.3. How Does Mentally Stimulating Your Dog Help You?
Your pet will love you more because of your desire and ability to keep their mental needs in mind. A beautiful creature, so unconditionally loving and loyal, will see you as its ultimate master and source of life when you put effort. They deserve no less.
4.4. Why do You Want to Find out?
Dogs can’t speak in a language that human beings understand. However, have you ever wondered what they will tell you if they could talk?
Perhaps, words wouldn’t have been able to hold the significance and gravity of their gratitude, love, and loyalty toward you.
4.4.1. A Blessing to Mankind
Remember the warm presence by your side when you tried to hide your tears, freshly rolling down your cheeks? Remember those gentle and soft paws on your arms when you needed comfort? Remember how your dog fell for your tricks every time?
Remember the numerous times they listened to you as you rambled on? Remember how they seemed impressed and interested in your poor magic skills?
Such a patient and innocent creature! Such a blessing to mankind! It is crucial for you to mentally stimulate your dog in the best way possible.
5. Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is mental stimulation and how to mentally stimulate your dog?
Anything that encourages your dog to use their minds is a sort of brain stimulation, including anything as simple as practicing obedience, trick training, or giving them one of the numerous “puzzle” games designed particularly for this reason will help satisfy this need.
2. What stimulates a dog’s mind?
Interacting with your dog through games, agility training, and training your dog to do a chore, such as opening a door or assisting you put their toys away can be regular examples of stimulations.
3. What are the benefits of pets on mental health?
A pet presence can help to alleviate your everyday stress, increasing your self-esteem, and pets can be excellent listeners, provide unconditional love, and will not judge you.
Your dogs have been by your side during your best moments and your worst ones. Without judgment and any selfishness, they have kept you mentally, emotionally, and physically fulfilled and happy. Listed above are all the ways to mentally stimulate your dog, hope you know what to do now.
For all their efforts to improve your mood when they sense your grief and their unconditional friendship, it is understandable that you read through this whole article.
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