December 11, 2020
Given a choice, dogs would love to spend most of their time outdoors. But it’s not just for the physical exercise. There are so many stimuli outdoors - all the sounds, the smells and movements - that dogs get to exercise all their senses. This gives them a good mental workout and in fact, mental stimulation gets them tired much quicker than physical exercise.
Dogs love to use their brains to figure out a problem or to solve a puzzle – what’s that strange sound? Who is that new person? Is that a squirrel I smell? But in most city-based households, their scope for puzzle solving in their environment is limited. But with a range of interesting dog toys online, you can supplement their daily routines. Here are a few activities to include some mental stimulation to your pet’s day -
Use interactive dog toys: Puzzles and treat dispensers are a great way to let your pet exercise those little grey cells. Dog puzzles like the Kong dog toys or Nina Ottosson’s puzzle toys for dogs generally use treats to entice dogs to solve the puzzle. All you have to do is fill them up as directed and let your doggie figure out how to get the treats out. Trust us, your pet will be engrossed in the task.
Play indoor games: Activities that need them to use their senses are mentally stimulating. So, on hot days, you can plan more indoor games than outdoor. For example, hide treats all around a room, whether it’s behind a cushion or under a table. Let your dog ‘search’ for the treats and watch him use his snoot to sniff out those treats. Hide and seek is another great game for mental stimulation as well as for pet and hooman bonding.
Take your time on walks: When you take your dog for a walk, let him or her sniff. This is how they catch up on all the news in the neighbourhood – which dogs visited the area, are they new? What did they eat? and so on. This is excellent mental stimulation for your pet and if you let them sniff as much as they want, you will notice that by the end of the walk they are pretty spent (be watchful of what they sniff and ensure they don’t pick up trash!)
Use chews to relax them: Chewing is natural behavior for dogs. While they grow out of the notorious ‘teething phase’ even adult dogs will like the occasional opportunity to exercise their jaws. Choose the chews you give them carefully, rawhide bones are made with a chemically intensive process and can be extremely harmful for dogs. Instead, look for rope toys, safe edible chews and extremely durable chew toys. Chewing helps your pet unwind as it de-stresses dogs. These are great to give just before bedtime. Remember to match the strength of the dog toys to the strength of your pet’s chewing force.Dogs that are bored often indulge in destructive and obsessive behavior. Including more mentally stimulating activities and puzzle toys to your pet’s day will make them happier. A really simple thing you could include is to let them be outside as much as is safe. If you have a dog-safe balcony, terrace or garden, this is ideal. As you have your morning cuppa or a lazy Sunday reading session, let your dog hang out with you. Watching people go by, noticing the birds, sniffing the delicious aromas wafting in from your neighbour’s kitchen are all interesting for dogs.