Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise for our dogs. You can help keep your dog’s brain stimulated with interactive toys, taking them on new routes or different dog parks when out walking, brain games and other playful activities.
Many common dog behaviour problems such as chewing, digging, barking and other destructive behaviour can be managed, if their bodies and brains active during the day, rather than left with nothing to do.
So, what does this consist of?
Well, we want to of course make sure they are getting the exercise they need, it’s also important they get outside of the home to socialise and sniff out the local area, have plenty of human contact, obedience training and interactive toys and puzzles to keep them entertained when no one’s around.
Many interactive toys like are designed to help a dog work for their food, encouraging dogs to use their body and mind to work the treat, kibble or meat out of the toy, mimicking how they would hunt and forage for food in the wild.
You do need to think about what type of toy would suit your dog the best though.
Some nervous dogs may need a quiet soft interactive toy that doesn’t make loud noises when rolling around on floorboards, while other dogs may go crazy for the sound of a rattling marble or bell inside a treat dispensing toy as it rolls like the Aussie Dog balls.
A sturdy squeaky can help entertain those dogs that aren’t into ripping apart anything that squeaks, while the classic Kong Wobblers are great for freezing some mince or wet food in, to really keep them busy, while you can challenge their problem solving skills with those that up the ante a bit like the Kong Lock it or Lexi & Me puzzles – all available at PETstock.
The toys should be alternated every day or two, and leaving them a few out at a time.
Make sure they are non-toxic and durable enough to suit your dog’s chewing habits and strength.
You can add even more play into their time alone by hiding their food or treats around the yard, or throw their kibble out into the grass rather than feeding them in a bowl, so they have to go hunting for it, again like they would in the wild.
About the Author: Lara Shannon is a NDTF certified dog behaviourist and trainer, Executive Producer and Host of Pooches at Play on Channel 10 and editor of Poochesatplay.com. Lara also runs her own dog training and boarding business in Melbourne’s Bayside area and is the Author of Eat, Play, Love Your Dog.