Anytime you can add activities for your dog, you’re stimulating their brain and cognitive abilities, encouraging movement and interest in the world around them. Additionally, you will be reducing the chance of skulduggery due to boredom or restlessness.
Consider that as humans we get varied stimulation throughout our day; this could be in the form of cooking, talking with a mate or a friend, going to an office, or stimulated by activities such as work, walking, running, gym workouts, meetings, yard work, playing with our children, cleaning the house, and a myriad of the endless stimulating hustle and bustle.
Compared to our full lives, dogs have limited activities; sleeping, eating, walking, and maybe some play. Think of ways to give your dog a job and/or incentives through their treats. Below are some options for exercising their mind.
What are Good Activities for the Dog?
Purchase a dog activity flip board, an interactive dog training apparatus, or a dog education puzzle (varied levels of difficulty available). My nearly 15-years young Golden Retriever, Makai takes a while to graduate to the next level, but Goldens are special ∞.
Makai is playing with an interactive board made by Nina Ottoson of Sweden. I particularly love the wooden games (as pictured here) because they are beautiful and sturdy (I’m also not a fan of plastic).
Take a treat and break it into several pieces and hide the treat throughout the house (on the windowsill, behind the couch, under their bed, etc). This stimulates their most-used asset, their sniffer, and also helps to reduce stress and cortisol in their bodies. Dogs have at least 10,000 times of olfactory sensory nerves in their noses, compared to humans.
When they’re trying to sniff out their world on a walk, acknowledge this as a most intuitive and necessary act, so give them some time, and a wide berth. This is like you talking to a friend. They get so much out of that “sniff conversation”!
Have someone hold the dog for a few seconds in another room while you prepare the game. For a guessing game, place a treat under one of three overturned cups. Release them to try and sniff out which one it is under. Get your kids involved in this hide & seek game with their dog/s.
There’s no better way to encourage bonding between a dog and (especially a new) baby or child than to have the child be present for the game with your dog, and when possible have that person give the gift of a treat to the dog.
Fun is the name of the game! It can be simple or complex. Get the whole family involved. Do it inside, on the patio, in the grass. Encourage them along the way. We all need more excitement and encouragement in our lives, and dogs benefit from the same. Have fun and get creative, as you exercise their mind (and maybe even yours too!)