Dogs need both physical and mental stimulation. Have you every noticed after letting your dog play fetch for several minutes or walking your dog for 5 miles that your dog is still full of energy? That is a good sign your dog needs more mental stimulation. Your dog might be physically tired, but not mentally. Most families do not understand that mental stimulation and health is just as important as physical stimulation and health for our dogs.
Just like us, dogs need mental stimulation and exercise to live a long happy life. Have you noticed after you study that you are mentally drained? The same thing happens to dogs! Not only will consistent mental and physical stimulation help promote good behavior, but it will also prevent destructive behaviors such as chewing and barking. Without mental stimulation, dogs get bored, frustrated, and even anxious just like us.
Mental stimulation for dogs involves their 5 senses: sight, touch, hearing, smell, and taste. Daily activities that trigger these 5 senses are important in keeping your dog stimulated.
Signs Your Dog is Lacking Mental Stimulation
If your dog has one or more of these symptoms, it is worth thinking of ways to improve their daily activities and help stimulate their minds.
1) Your dog has the tendency to destroy household items. Chewing is often a sign that your dog is bored. Chewing is a natural way for them to release endorphins.
2) Your dog is restless. Is your dog constantly on the move? He or she may pace, run in circles, chase their tail, and show other restless behaviors.
3) Your dog excessively licks and chews its paws (If your dog doesn’t have allergies). Like chewing, some dogs over groom themselves. Over grooming can be self-destructive causing hair loss or even sores. Licking also is a natural way for them to release endorphins.
4) Your dog constantly barks and whines. Your dogs may start to bark at everyone or everything that passes near your house. They may even start barking and whining towards you if not mentally stimulated enough. Make sure to take them out and help them explore their 5 senses.
How to Engage Your Dog in Mental Simulation
1) Add variety to your daily walk. They love to explore new places! Consider taking your dog on a different route instead of taking the same path around your neighborhood. Visit parks, go hiking, walk a different block in town, switch it up and let them explore new sights, sounds, scents, and touch!
2) Consider a slow-feeding bowl. Not only will these bowls stop your dog from inhaling their food and choking but it also forces your dogs to utilize their brain and maneuver their tongue around the puzzles in the bowl.
3) Consider buying mentally stimulating toys. Kong Classics, Toppls, and Puzzles are a few favorites with my pack!
4) Teach your dog a new trick
5) Obedience training
6) Scent games. Hide treats around the house and have your dog find them! They love this game!