The Importance of Mental Stimulation

It is amazing how many dogs I deal with where their problems are a manifestation of stress caused by boredum. Mental stimulation is so often under estamated or even overlooked.

Excercise Alone is Not Enough to Prevent Problem Behaviours

Many dogs get lovely long walks and their owners believe that this will be enough to tire a dog out. If the dog has behavioural issues, the owner will unlikely think it has anything to do with draining energy. In so many of these cases, a dog is not mentally drained.

Put Yourself in Your Dogs Paws

Imagine if you lived in a house where no one else speaks your language. You cannot read or follow anything on the tv and find the langauge impossible to learn. You may not do any crossword puzzels or anything that would help to pass the day. Once a day you may go out for exercise for an hour or so, but other than that, you are inddors with an occasional walk around the garnden if you are lucky enough to have one. How long do you think you would last before you found your own job to do? or began to develop some behaviourial issues?

Make it Part of Their Routine

Many behavioural problems can be prevented with mental stimulation and its a perfect way to interact with your dog and build a stronger bond. Some training and a ten minute game or puzzle is all that is needed and can easily be fitted into a routine. Even three times a week is better than none at all. Hiding some or her food or some treats around the house is a favourite for many dogs. At first you may have to help her by showing her where they are whilst asking her to ‘go find’ but once she is used to this you can hide food in more difficult places, progressing to the garden which will be much more of a challange for her. Nina Ottosson has a great range of puzzles that your dog will love. Kong also make some great toys which provide good mental stimulation. There are also many books such as Brain Games for Dogs by Claire Arrowsmith that give great but simple ideas on how to mentally challenge your dog.

Remember….A tired dog is a HAPPY DOG!

Maddie Knight

ACC.Ad.Dip.Can.Psy AMACC Canine Psychologist and Behaviourist
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