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Mental Stimulation and Why it is so Important

Mental stimulation is anything that stimulates, activates or enriches your dogs mind. Mental stimulation is basically a work out for your brain, it increase the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients. Without proper mental stimulation your dog is more likely to experience learning impairments, as well as behavioral problems. If we don’t provide our dogs with appropriate resources they will find a way to stimulate themselves which typically includes chewing, excessive barking, digging and other destructive behaviors. Some examples of mental stimulation include obedience training, trick training, food puzzles, walks to new places, and nose work. These activities are all helpful with boredom, hyperactivity, aggression, stress, teaching puppies good habits and bonding with your dog.

How can employ these activities, you can use your pups food as a reinforcer for obedience training, or if you don’t have time give them their meal in a food puzzle such as a bob a lot. While on walks you can teach your dog a “go sniff” cue and allow them to explore their surrounds for a bit, it might seem novel to you but for dogs this is how they experience the world. Take some time and teach your dog some new tricks, this provides mental stimulation as well as gives you a chance to bond with your dog. Nose work is also wonderful way to let your dog use their natural abilities, take a couple empty boxes and place a tasty treat inside, when your dog finds the box with the treat reward them with it. And finally just have fun with your dog, interact with them and take the time to provide them with their needs. You will find that including these types of activities in your daily routine will enrich you and your dogs lives.

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2 comments

  • Omg that sounds just like my 4 yo spayed female Yorkie-I actually refer to her as my cat dog bc she’s social only on her terms and I can’t engage her in play so although she’s a picky eater she’s slightly overweight from sleeping so much. Even had a high dollar vet visit to make sure nothing was wrong with her last year. Can’t wait for them to respond to us. My vet had no answers other than “slow metabolism” and “just keep on working with her”-ugh!!!

    Beth Stewart
  • My Yorkshire Terrier is 8 years old and is neutered. He is in good health and is probably 3-4 lbs overweight. The problem is he sleeps all the time. Except for his walks, he acts more like a cat than a dog. Even as a puppy, he never wanted to play like normal dogs. We have a box full of dog toys that he never plays with. The only thing that excites him is a treat. He loves to sit next to us on the couch and be petted but any playful interaction on our part largely goes ignored. We send him to day care a couple of days a week for social interaction with other dogs but have been told by the staff he generally observes the other dogs than interacting with them. He loves it when we have guests over and is happy to greet them but before long he goes back to his normal sleeping schedule. He rarely barks and isn’t hyper like terriers can often be. What can we do to get him to be more energetic and engaged?

    Anne

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