Mental stimulation for dogs is just as important as physical stimulation. If they get bored, dogs can become destructive as they try to keep themselves entertained. This boredom can be expressed through digging, chewing, escaping in search of adventure (think Tramp from that Disney movie). To keep your dog sane and your house safe from destruction, you need to give your dog ways to stay mentally stimulated.
Agility training is an excellent way to mentally stimulate your dog, with the added bonus of giving them a chance to work off some energy. They jump over hurdles, bolt through weave poles, crawl through a tunnel and more. It keeps their minds on alert as they get good exercise. Our agility courses for dogs give you the tools to set up an agility course in your own yard, complete with training instructions so you can teach your dog yourself- no experts required.
Another option is stuffing a Kong. These toys are great for much more than just chewing on. We have a list of 9 things you've never done with Kongs that will also keep your dog mentally stimulated. It includes treats, puzzles and a game for your dog to figure out and work through.
Speaking of puzzles, dog puzzles give your dog a real mental workout. Hide food or treats in some or all of the compartments. Then watch as your dog uses his nose to figure out where the treats are and his brain to figure out how to get to them. But watch your dog with this toy, because rough chewers will often ruin the puzzle fun.
We all know that phrase "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" is wrong. Did you know that dogs can and should learn new tricks their whole life? Learning is a great way to keep the brain active and keep your dog mentally stimulated. It's also a powerful bonding experience for you and your dog. Teaching your dog new tricks is often fun and simpler than you may think. Here are a few you can try:
How To Teach A Dog To Go To Bed
How To Teach A Dog To Play Dead
How To Teach A Dog To Speak
Volunteering is a powerful way to expose your dog to new scenarios, locations, and people while doing some good for others. Therapy dogs certified by Therapy Dogs International or The Delta Society provide comfort to patients in hospice, help children feel confident reading, teach empathy to victims of domestic violence, and more. Depending on your dog's level of manners, you may need to do some training to pass the evaluations required for certification, which is another opportunity for bonding and mental stimulation.
If your dog seems to be bored or is entertaining himself in ways you don't want to continue, give him some options for dog mental stimulation. It will keep him sharp and provide an outlet for that clever brain of his.
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