When we think of pet health, we tend to only think about taking our dogs out on walks, building a cat gymnasium in our homes, and maybe even getting a hamster wheel for our rodent friends. What most pet parents don’t understand is that mental stimulation & health is just as important as physical stimulation & health for our pets.
Just like us humans, dogs need mental stimulation and exercise to live a long and happy life. Not only will consistent mental & physical stimulation help promote good behavior, but it will also prevent bad & destructive behaviors such as biting and barking in your dogs. Without mental stimulation, dogs can get bored, frustrated, anxious, and even depressed, just like us!
Check out our new Fly Away Dog Toy to keep your dog busy and stimulated during the day!
What Does Mentally Stimulating Your Dog Mean?
For humans, we might read a book or even solve a crossword puzzle to help stimulate our brains. Just like physical exercise, it is important to exercise the mind regularly to keep it in its sharpest form. This same rule applies to dogs. As mentioned above, a dog without mental stimulation can be more susceptible to boredom, frustration, anxiety, and even depression.
Mental stimulation for dogs involves stimulation of their 5 senses. Sight, sounds, touch, smell, and taste. Daily activities that trigger these 5 senses are extremely important in keeping your dog mentally stimulated.
Why Is Mentally Stimulating Your Dog So Important?
The most important thing to remember is that physical stimulation such as exercising your dog is simply not enough. You can take your dog out for a long walk but still, come home to chewed-up shoes and pillows. By mentally stimulating your dog, you offset the extra energy your pet may have by exhausting the mind as well as the body. This also helps your dog relieve all the anxiety and stress that they’ve built up.
What Are The Signs That My 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.
- Your dog has the tendency to destroy household items: If your dog is frequently chewing on your shoes, computer cords, blankets, pillows and even furniture. This is a telltale sign that your dog is bored or frustrated as chewing is a natural way for them to release endorphins.
- Your dog is restless: Does your dog have the need to constantly be moving around the house? He or she may pace back and forth, run in circles or even leap on and off your couch. Not only do dogs have the need to run freely, but many breeds also have the innate need to chase. There are different exercises you can do with your dog to help them feed their need to chase.
- Your Dog Is A Couch Potato And Sleeps Too Much: Most dogs are inherently active animals. If they are sleeping more than regular this could mean that they are bored or even depressed. Consider doing exciting activities to help bring them back to life.
- Your Dog Excessively Licks & Chews Its Paws: Similar to chewing on furniture and destroying household items, some dogs will over-groom themselves if they are too bored and looking for something to do. This can become self-destructive if done too much.
Your Dog Constantly Barks & Whines: Your dogs may start to bark and 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 My Dog In Mental Stimulation?
When choosing what activities to do with your dogs, the most important thing to ask yourself is,” how can I help my dog trigger their 5 senses?”. Here are some ways to help stimulate your dogs mentally!
- Adding variety to your daily walks: Dogs are naturally curious like newborn babies. They love to explore new places especially if it's with their favorite human! Consider taking your dog on different routes to help explore their senses. Visit parks, go hiking, walk around a different block for them to explore new sights, sounds, scents, and touch! Also, consider getting our Healing Crystal Infused collars and harnesses to bring that extra dose of happiness!
- Consider getting a slow-feeding bowl:Not only will these bowls stop your dog from eating too fast but it also forces your dogs to utilize their brain and maneuver their tongue around the “obstacles” in the bowl.
- Consider buying “Mentally Stimulating Dog Toys”: Mentally stimulating toys come in various shapes and sizes, switching up your dog’s toys from time to time will help mix things up and help stimulate their minds. This Merci Collective Fly Away dog toy is great if you build an “obstacle course” forcing your dog to maneuver through the course to catch the toy!
- Safe social contact: Consider going to dog expos or even setting up a friendly gathering with your friends and their dogs. Dogs are social animals so allowing them to socialize with their kind will also help stimulate their minds.
- Teach your dog a new trick: Teaching your dog a new trick can be an excellent way to help stimulate their minds. Not only is it a great mental exercise but it's an excellent way to bond with your dog as well!
- Cooking with your dogs: Whenever you find yourself cooking, let your dog have a sniff of each ingredient that you use. The different smells are sure to be a delight for your dogs while also mentally stimulating them. Just make sure not to accidentally feed it to them!
- Treasure hunting: Instead of giving your dog a treat just like that, consider hiding treats around the house and allowing your dog to sniff them out! A great and fun activity to help reduce your dog’s boredom!
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