A mentally and physically stimulated dog – is a happy and healthy pet.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

agility-1024x536 A mentally and physically stimulated dog – is a happy and healthy pet.

Although dogs are a totally different species to humans, there are some very glaring similarities between us. It is very easy to see when our pets are bored, stressed and feeling lazy, but it’s also very common for our dogs to suffer from mental health disorders too. Left without adequate stimulation, sitting and waiting all day for their owner to return from work can negatively affect a dog’s overall well-being.

Change your dog’s daily routine.

Suppose your dog’s daily routine is always the same. In that case, his environment never changes, and the only exercise he gets is his daily walk. No wonder he quickly becomes bored and displays aggressive or destructive behaviours. Now is the time to teach him some new “tricks”!

Expose your pet to different, interesting environments, and take him for a walk on the beach or into the woods. Play a variety of new games with him; hide and seek in the home or tug of war will engage his interest. Physical exercise such as chasing a frisbee, brisk walking, and running after a ball will all tire him out.

Boost your pet’s mood

To trigger a change in your dog’s behaviour, prevent any mental health disorders and strengthen the bond between you, he needs not only physical exertion but also mental stimulation. It’s your vocation as a pet parent to provide life experiences for your dog. Not only will you be enhancing and stimulating the dog’s mind, but you might find out that you’re having fun together.

Here are just a few of the challenging things you can do with your dog to improve his well-being:

Dog obedience classes

You don’t need to enrol your pet on a course to train him to be obedient. A short 15-minute burst of routines will keep your dog interested. Show him to sit and stay, walk and turn and come back to you when you call him.

Teach him some new, fun tricks

There are probably hundreds of quirky actions you can ask your dog to do. Try giving a high-five, crawl, twirl, smile and speak. Before too long, your dog will have an amazing repertoire of appealing tricks.

Give your dog a fun food puzzle.

We don’t know any dog that doesn’t love a food treat or snack. Your pet is more likely to interact and look forward to playing if there is a reward to look forward to. Hide treats around the home and let him sniff them out, or place dog biscuits underneath paper cups on the floor in front of him. Let him decide where the treat is hidden.

Create your dog agility course

Many working dogs are trained to complete agility courses for events and shows. However, a DIY course set up indoors or in your garden can be just the thing to keep your dog mentally stimulated. You don’t need metal poles or elaborate equipment; diversify and make use of household items. Use small plastic cones for him to weave through, or garden canes work just as well. He can learn to stand still on a sturdy, small table for a few moments. Encourage your pet to jump through a hula-hoop or lay it flat on the grass and teach him to lay still inside the ring. You can make a tunnel out of a pop-up laundry bin with the end cut off or try a child’s play tunnel for your dog to crawl through. Rolled-up towels can be used to make jumps for him to step over. Introduce some vocal commands and hand signals to make the challenge more interesting.

These are only a few suggestions for the many different stimulating activities you can do with your dog. It may seem like child’s play giving your dog some mental gymnastics, but once you begin, you will soon find yourself hunting out new and different ways you can challenge your pet’s mind.

The more trials and mentally stimulating challenges you can give him, the healthier and happier he will be and, of course, the stronger the bond between you. Just keep your dog’s safety in mind – now go and have fun!

You may also be interested in our article on how to make walks more fun and Do you have a bored dog.