How to Keep Your Dogs Brain Active: Mental Brain Stimulation For Dogs

Some people see dog toys being linked to ‘Brain Training’ as a way of promoting and selling dog toys.  However, a fundamental part of dog training is keeping your dogs brain stimulated and active.

Behaviourists and vets around the world recommend that time spent with your dog playing games and stimulating their brains will help your dog improve mentally.

To help reduce boredom in your dog and support the brain stimulation, we have put together this article to introduce some of the simple ways you can support your dog.  We also want to share with your some of the amazing dog games.

How Do I know My Dog Is Not Mentally Stimulated?

Dogs will display all sorts of weird and wonderful behaviours that will start when your dog is bored.  Generally your dog might

  • Dig in the garden excessively
  • Tends to not leave your side throughout the day
  • Constant barking whilst you’re not at home
  • Rummaging through the rubbish and bins
  • Weight increasing excessively
  • Chewing everything in the house

The above behaviours are general traits that your dog will start to have when bored.  Giving them more space is not always the right action to take as they will want some kind of activity and play time.

All animals require mental stimulation every day.  Ralph gets a lot of activity time with us having 2 kids.  They love playing fetch and ball and have no started hiding treats for him to find, which is great for his senses / awareness.

Let’s take a look at some of the brain testing toys available for your dog…

Best Brain Toys for Dogs

Amazon is full of amazing brain toys.  These can quickly test your dog to try and get the treats that are hidden.  They are designed solely stimulate your dogs brains.

Here are a few of our favourite toys that Ralph loves;

1 Foobler Treat Dispensing Ball

Foobler is a great treat dispensing toy that will test your dogs’ patience and reward accordingly.  Your dog just simply needs to push the ball around to release any treats from the relevant hole.

Ralph pushes his Foobler toy around for long periods of time, or until he knows his treats have ran out.

Check out our full Foobler Review here

2 Dog Twister

This puzzle is a fun toy that is completely unique and challenges your dog.  Hiding your treats under the compartments then challenges your dog to find out how to open them.

Challenges your dogs brain and helps reduce destructive behaviour in dogs.

3 Outward Hound Tornado ToysDOG BRAIN TRAINING TOYS

A great toy that is designed to relinquish any boredom in your dog and complete exercise your dogs’ brain.  Simply hide some small treats in the toy and release your doggie.  They will instantly love the challenge this presents.

Outward Hound have a huge range of very popular dog toys that can be found here

I Have Heard People Talk About Dog Enrichment, What Is it…?

Anything you do in life that adds value can be classed as enrichment.   This can be a significant change in scenery or an increase in mental stimulation for your dog.  New Toys or social events for you and your dog can also be seen as enrichment.

Dog trainers have identified that using the same training techniques as zoo animals, they have quickly identified common traits in training dogs.  One of which is the mental stimulation required to keep dogs / animals entertained.   Understanding more around what the consequences will be when you have a bored animal will really help you understand how you can provide true, positive, enrichment.

What Can Mental Stimulation Do to My Dog?

When your dog becomes bored they can quickly become depressed.  They will then find ways to entertain themselves to get attention.  Much like children, they will become naughty and start barking, licking, chewing or even wetting in the house.

Although these behaviours can quickly fade, it is difficult to get them back out of the habit.  Start training and any mental stimulation from a young age, this will help you establish a great relationship with your dog behaviourally and physically.  Treat dispensing toys are a great way of recognising your dogs’ positive behaviours as well as stimulating the brain.

Stressful situations can also be adapted too quickly and easily.  Dog aggression is a form of anxiety and boredom.  Tapping into your dogs’ mental state and ensuring they are enriched will help them quickly adapt to stressful situations.

Alternative Solutions to Stimulating Your Dogs Brain

Training your dog at home can be simple with some general household items.  Stimulating your dogs brain without any additional costs is simple.  Here we will show you exactly what you can do to have fun with your dog and kids when at home or out and about.

Dogs tend to love showing there strength with a simple game of tug o’ war or searching for treats in a hiding game.  These are great for brain stimulation but exercise is also important.  Fetch or Hide and Seek are great outdoor games that can keep your dog entertained for hours.

Lets take a look at some simple, but very effective games you can play at home.  These are games we play with Ralph.

Hide and Seek

We get one or both of the kids to hide, with a treat.  Once they are hidden, we get them to shout out Ralphs name (well just Isaic as Elliot cannot speak yet).

Once they shout, watch as Ralph hunts them down and barks when he has found them.  Then they give him a treat to reward him.

This is simple to do inside or outside, as long as when you or your child shouts your dog can still hear you.

Treasure Hunt

We generally use Cheese for this game.  Ralph loves ham and cheese and will not stop until he has found it.  Most dogs rely on their noses and this is a great way of testing there senses.

You can also try filling there favourite toy, a kong is generally the most common, and then show them and hide it…

Once hidden, tell them to find it and bring it back to you. SIMPLE!

Cup Game

This is a common game amongst street hustlers when you hide something under a cup and once the cups have been moved around you then guess what is under it.

The dog version of this game is just the same.  3 cups, 1 treat, hide the treat under 1 cup and mix them up then wait for your dog to find it.

We also do it with our hands by just hiding the treat behind our back, switching hands and then showing Ralph our closed hands.  He will then bark at us to find his treat and is rewarded if he gets it right.

 

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