Every pet owner knows their dog needs physical exercise and activity. Walks, runs, dog parks are places where lots of physical dog energy is expended, which is wonderful! And yes, some of us are less successful than others at making sure they get enough physical activity. But, as a pet parent, it is just as important to alleviate their boredom with mentally stimulating activities as physical ones. Some activities, like tracking and obedience really involve both, but there are fun and easy things you can do at home to provide that much need mental stimulation.
I like two kinds of toys – what I characterize as busy toys and puzzle toys. Busy toys, which often have a fairly easy food or treat reward to keep the dog’s attention focused for a while are great at keeping your dog occupied, and my favorite line is the Busy Buddy line by Premier Pets. But soon, your dog will eat all the treats and be “done” with toy. That’s when its time to take to the next level and introduce the puzzlers. The toys that frustrate our canine friends and cause them to stop, think, and stop and think some more. This true mental stimulation is so important.
When I’m at work all day, sitting at my desk, in front of my computer, there is virtually no physical activity. However, I may have to stretch and strain my brain to figure how to address the legal problems in front of me. And, at the end of the day, I’m physically and mentally EXHAUSTED! Even watching television and playing on the computer provides that mental stimulation for us humans. What are our dogs doing while we’re “mentally stimulating” ourselves with the laptop? Probably laying around doing nothing. Challenging puzzle toys and games can do for your dog what computer games, complex TV shows (no, reality shows don’t count!), and facebook do for you! I love simple puzzles like the Buster Cube, the Kibble Nibble, and the Tug a Jug to start. With these, the dog has to figure out how to roll the cube or jug around and get the food out. It usually doesn’t talk long for the dog to figure it out, but once they do, it can be lots of fun for them. This can easily be done at every meal and with snacks. Just to provide that bit of extra mental stimulation every day.
At the next level are more difficult puzzle games like Aikio Interactive dog bowl. Not only does it slow down a pup who eats wayyyyyy to fast, but it makes them think and work for that food reward. Often, after 10 or 15 minutes of playing with this type of toy, your dog will appear physically exhausted. That mental stimulation takes its toll in a shorter time than physical activity. A lot of these cool puzzle toys like the Ethical Pet Seek-A-Treat Shuffle Bone Dog Puzzle, the Kyjen dog games puzzle, can be purchased at Preuss Pets in Oldtown, Lansing. You will learn that only after 10-15 minutes of this type of activity, your dog is tired, calmer, and happier. And maybe, a little smarter.
*** This is not a paid or sponsored post. These are Angela’s actual opinions about these products based on her use in her home and in her business.
Angela Brown is an attorney and co-owner of AnnaBelle’s Pet Station, a dog training, grooming, and group play doggie day care facility in Downtown Lansing, MI. She lives in Okemos with her husband, Scotty, their two bouncy Rottweiler mixes, Buddy and Martini, and their three cats, Lucy, Rudy, and Nikki Six Toes.
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