How to keep your dog mentally and physically stimulated

Posted by Mike Trevena 07/07/2016

While you might think your dog loves lounging all day, dogs need to be kept stimulated, both mentally and physically.

If your dog isn’t getting enough stimulation, this is when you are likely to start seeing unwanted behaviour, which can make living with your dog very hard and can impact your life more than you might imagine.

Here are a few tips with give our clients for keeping your dog mentally and physically stimulated.

Play
It’s as easy as throwing a ball (do be careful throwing sticks as they can damage your dog’s mouth) or a toy, and making your dog fetch it and bring it back. You could also play tug of war, but be aware dogs are cheats, and will tug from just below your hand!

If you want to make things harder, you can hide treats around the garden and get your dog to sniff them out and find them. Don’t do this in the house under any circumstances; your house should be a quiet place for your dog at all times.

Make your dog work for treats – puzzle toys
Something that’s really fun for your dog is to make them work for treats using puzzle toys.

Puzzle toys have holes and openings in them which you can stuff with treats and food. To get the reward, your dog has to shake the toy, push it around, rattle it, and lick it.

To vary the difficulty, you can get puzzle toys with adjustable holes to allow you to change the size. To start off with, keep the hole completely open to make it easy for your dog, and then the more they do it, the smaller you can make the hole to make your dog work hard.

We use and recommend Kong toys, fill with treats or even peanut butter.

Give your dog something to chew on
It’s natural for dogs to chew; it’s something they enjoy doing. To prevent any unwanted chewing and to keep your dog busy, give your dog some toys they are allowed to chew on and encourage them to do it.

It’s best to only allow your dog to have a chew toy inside its crate. There needs to be a clear distinction for your dog regarding where they can and cannot chew. Allowing your dog to chew when loose in the house may blur the lines as to what is an acceptable chew toy and what is not.

If you catch your dog chewing something they shouldn’t be, tell them no, and if the dog persists you may need to correct the dog in some way.

Exercise

dina-jumping-with-ball
Exercising with your dog doesn’t stop at taking them for a walk. There are plenty of activities you and your dog can do together, to keep you both stimulated, and fit and healthy.

Some of the most popular exercises to do with your dog are: walking, running, playing, cycling with your dog, hiking, and agility training.

To find out more about how to keep fit with your dog, read our recent blog post, how to keep fit with your dog.

Training
Training is a great way to ensure your dog is obedient, and keep any unwanted behaviours at bay.

If your dog is already obedient, it’s important to make sure you continue training to make sure your dog behaves the way you want him or her to, and doesn’t develop any bad habits.

If your dog isn’t trained or you’re seeing specific behavioural problems, our residential training can literally be life-changing. We understand the frustrations many dog owners face each day living with a disobedient dog.

The four-week course will teach your dog obedience, and take care of any specific problems you’re having. When the course is complete, we will teach you all the commands you need to know to continue training your dog at home.

Dog sitters / dog walkers
If you’re at work during the day and are unable to take your dog to work or pop back during the day, consider hiring a dog sitter or using a dog walking service.

Borrow My Doggy, a partner of DogsTrust, is a service that’s well worth looking into. Borrow My Doggy matches you and your dog to people in your area who want to spend time with a dog.

It’s a win-win situation because your dog gets exercise and spends time with someone, while someone who can’t have a dog (perhaps due to their job or home) gets to spend time with a dog.

What do you do to keep your dog stimulated?

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How to keep your dog mentally and physically stimulated

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