How to Keep a Dog Mentally Active Dogs are highly active creatures and need mental stimulation as much as physical ones.

How to Keep a Dog Mentally Active

Dogs are highly active creatures. Pay attention to their mental health and find ways to engage their minds positively โ€“ for a healthy, happy dog.

Dogs make great companions. Leaving them for too long can get them bored out of their minds.

Unfortunately, a bored dog is a destructive dog. Suddenly, most of your property starts looking very appetizing to them. At this point, don’t even be surprised when you get home and find your couch chewed up.

What’s worse? There’s only so much “bad dog” can do here. You’re better off engaging them mentally so they’re less likely to get bored.

Why is mental stimulation important for dogs?

Taking care of your dog’s health goes beyond ensuring it’s physically fit. Most people know that it’s important to take their dogs out for a walk or run frequently. That’s great.

In that same vein, their brain needs to be stimulated too.

Mental health isn’t just important in humans, it’s important in dogs too. And by mentally stimulating your dog, you can rest assured of their overall good health.

Below are a few benefits of mentally stimulating your dog –


ü  It results in lowered stress levels for your dogs.

ü  This is a good way to handle their anxiety, especially when you’re gone.

ü  It provides a healthy outlet for them to use their minds – unless you’d rather they destroy your house for fun.

ü  It’s a great way for dogs to release all that extra energy they seem to have buried in them. [1]

Ideas you can use to keep your dog mentally active –


ü  Give your dog a job to do

This sounds rather tedious, doesn’t it? Perhaps, but by giving them a job, you’re engaging them positively. It doesn’t even have to be something complicated.

Whatever you can come up with that they can do for a reward will suffice.


Great job options include finding stuff with their nose, chasing squirrels or rodents, putting their toys away, or even the usual obedience exercises.


The goal is to engage your dog in activities that will help to sharpen its mind and boost its mental intelligence.


As for salaries, they come cheap. Extra treats or a "good boy” will suffice.


ü  Introduce your dog to new tricks

Turns out even old dogs can learn new tricks. This is often such an adventure for them. Plus, it can help stimulate them mentally. Dogs are curious animals. Use this to your advantage.


The trick could be teaching them to figure out a puzzle. Who knows? You might even have a performance dog on your hands.


If you have some space in your backyard, set up some hurdles and train them to figure them out. Otherwise, smaller tricks such as backing up, shaking paws, waving, or spinning work great.


ü  Play interactive games with your dog

Doing this not only helps to strengthen the bond between you and your dog but also keeps their minds sharp.


The American Kennel Club agrees that most of these cognitive training games do make your dog smarter.


A few recommendations here include teaching your dog to make eye contact or switching up your walking routine to build their attention span.


Other great brain game ideas for dogs include dog puzzles, hide & seek, treasure hunts, jump rope, and even teaching them how to solve a problem. [2]


ü  Introduce your dog to new faces

Dogs tend to become aggressive when they meet a new face or a stranger. Sometimes, it’s not even aggression, its fear or shyness.


However, to boost your dog's mental intelligence, they must be exposed to other people and dogs.


The best way to do this is via a “slow process” to avoid overwhelming them.

Here’s the right way to do this –


Ø  Keep them in a separate room till everyone settles in

Ø  Allow them to make the first move when they’re ready

Ø  Let the new person offer them some treats

Ø  Be patient and encourage them kindly. [3]


ü  Get some new toys

Most dog owners have to go to work without their dogs. This leaves them bored while you are not around. Fortunately, you can still engage your dog while you’re not around by getting it some toys.


A new toy can be a new source of fun and adventure for it. But don’t just buy one and throw at it. You need to choose the right toy for your dog and introduce them to it.


Quiet toys that they can chew often end up being just that – chew toys. This isn’t interesting to them.


Go for interactive toys. Once you bring it home, spend some time introducing them to it and teaching them how to use it.


ü  Get it a playmate

This can be a bit dicey at first. Dogs like to think you’re enough for them. So, they may not entertain the idea of a new dog coming to steal all the attention from you.


A great alternative would be to set up a playdate for them at the park or a friend’s place. They’d have their fill of fun and still go home with you alone. This might be better for your sanity.


But, if you decide to go ahead and get a new dog, just know that the first few weeks will be the hardest. Eventually, they should get along.


A few things you should consider here include –


Your dog’s attitude – if your dog is super aggressive, best believe this process will be harder. Consider chaining both dogs on opposite sides of a fence and allowing them to check each other out.


One will likely establish dominance, then they can run off into the sunset happily…or something less dramatic, but you get the point.


The new dog’s size – smaller dogs can get hurt by larger dogs – intentionally or not. If you choose to get a smaller dog or if your dog is the small dog in this scenario, always keep an eye out to ensure they’re safe.


However, you're better off choosing a dog that's the same size as yours. That way, they're equally matched.


Play styles – this is an often overlooked consideration. However, all dogs have distinct personalities.


For instance, while collies enjoy chasing and running around, most pit bulls would rather wrestle and even play fight. Putting these two dogs together would be more trouble than fun.




If you’d like your dog to be a well-rounded, well-adjusted member of both the human and canine societies, then make their mental health a priority.


It's great that most of these activities are also physically stimulating. Beyond that, doing these things with your dog provides an excellent opportunity for you to bond with them.


At the end of the day, the benefits are numerous and we recommend you give these a try.

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