Physical exercise for a dog is important. Keeping your dog fit means aging will be easier down the road, with less arthritis and pain. But did you know exercising your dog’s mind is just as important for their quality of life? It’s true! No one likes to be bored, especially your dog. Mental boredom in a dog can lead to destructive behavior and getting themselves into trouble! Keep reading to find out how to help keep your dog’s mind exercising and away from TP-ing your living room.
Teach Tricks to Exercise Your Dog’s Mind
Teaching your dog tricks is a great way to exercise their mind. It keeps them focused and they really do enjoy it. My boy, Milo, loves tricks so much that he will anticipate which one I will ask for next! Your dog wants to please you, it’s part of their nature. Here are a few easy ones to teach:
- Lay down
- Paw (get creative, ask for each one! Like playing Patty Cake)
- Touch (target training: ask your dog to “touch” an object with either their paw or nose, Milo touches with his paw! His favorite things to touch are the ice cube dispenser and light switches!)
- Back up
- Whisper (another favorite of Milo’s)
There are many more advanced tricks you can teach like teaching your dog to weave in between your legs and even hug a stuffed animal or their housemate. The possibilities are endless and the sky’s the limit when it comes to teaching tricks.
Don’t forget to use positive reinforcement when teaching your dog tricks, usually by giving them a treat (pieces of their kibble works great) and a “Good Boy.” Every time they did something right, they need to know it. Eventually, that edible treat will turn into being praised and your dog will not even need food to do a trick for you.
Teaching tricks is also a great way to tire out a high-energy pup. Using their brain takes up more energy than playing fetch for hours. Milo is a high-energy Heinz 57 special and honesty, he was a horrible puppy and has many stories of destructive behavior. But we learned that he loved to learn. And this tired him out way faster than running around the yard for 3 hours.
Puzzles are excellent for exercising your dog’s mind
Puzzles are also a great way to exercise your dog’s mind! After all, solving a puzzle is problem-solving right? Here are some examples of doggo-friendly puzzles:
- Treat under the cup: put a treat under a non-see-through cup and rearrange it among a few other cups that look exactly the same. Have your dog figure out where the treat is.. patiently!
- Find it: Hide their favorite toy and then have them go find it!
- Hide and Seek: This one is a favorite in our household and by far Milo’s favorite! I hide and Dad asks “Where’s Mom? Go find her!” Milo has to use his senses to find mom. And he is so excited that his facial expression shows how proud of himself he is when he has succeeded!
- Kongs and DIY puzzle feeders: Kongs are great, but you can also make a puzzle feeder by screwing holes in a soda pop bottle and adding treats. The object is that your dog must figure out how to get the treats out, usually by rolling the bottle around.
Exercising your dog’s mind is fun for you and your dog. It also gives you a chance to become even more bonded. What’s your dog’s favorite mind exercise?