Exercise Your Dog’s Brain

exercise your dog’s brain.

By: Cris Raiche

While most dog owners consider good nutrition and physical activity a “no brainer” for keeping their pet happy and healthy, some may not be aware that mental stimulation is equally as important to maintaining overall good health. Playing brain games is an enjoyable way to interact with your pup and can result in multiple benefits:

Helps correct behavioral problems.

Brain games need not be overly complicated, in fact simple games and activities often are all the mind workout your dog may need. There are some great dog puzzle toys on the market that help curb boredom. Keeping your dog engaged and occupied is a good way to help them from creating their own kind of mischievous fun. When dogs become bored, they have a tendency to become more hyperactive and often more distracted which often contributes to all sorts of undesirable behavior such as chewing, barking, not listening, and other behaviors pet owners wish to avoid.

Creates a natural bond.

Especially during the colder months, when dogs may spend more hours indoors, it’s a great time to take advantage of creating closer bonds with your pup. Doing a puzzle game together, pet owners build a stronger relationship with their furry friend which is critical for successful training and obedience.

Helps with training.

Stimulating your dog with puzzle games helps build the ability for your dog to focus more on the task at hand, which will pay off in multitudes when you are training. Training need not only be though of as just for puppies, but rather a continuous, lifelong activity. If you exercise your pet’s mind with puzzle games, they are more apt to take to training easier as a benefit from all the mental activity pet games give them.

Puzzle games benefits.

Puzzle games are helpful to dogs of any age, all naturally benefit from mental stimulation. Puzzle feeders can help underweight dogs to eat more food, as a reward to the dog for figuring out how to manipulate the game to earn the treat. Puzzle bowls are helpful for overweight and fast eaters by slowing them down in order to devour their kibble. Puzzle games are also an effective way to boost confidence and reduce stress.

Incorporating puzzle games into a daily routine.

As a good rule, keep the games short. Anywhere between 15 – 30 minutes a day is all that is needed. Especially for puppies and young dogs, simple and short durations of time are best. Be sure to provide a lot of praise and positive feedback so that your pet enjoys playing the games. For older dogs, be sure to watch so that you can modify the activity if the game is too difficult or if your dog is older and unable to perform the game.

DIY games.

While there are many good puzzle games on the market, you don’t need to buy one in order to play with your pet. Some of the simplest games can be created yourself and often become the most favored one with your dog. Hide and seek is an easy and fun way to exercise your dog’s cognitive skills. You can incorporate this game with their feeding by simply dividing up and hiding their food in different spots around your home, so they have to hunt for their dinner instead of it being served in its predictable spot. You can also play this same game with their favorite toy and instructing them to find it. Again, be sure to give plenty of praise and positive feedback once your dog finds it. Equally important is to watch their behavior to ensure they are also enjoying the play. Modify the game by hiding it in an easier location to start or ditch the game and try a new one if you feel your dog isn’t interested. The key to success is keeping the games fun and new so your pet enjoys it – and you do too!