It is important to provide your dogs with adequate exercise to keep them healthy, to prevent behavior problems caused by boredom and pent-up energy and make them feel happy. This not only includes physical exercise but should include mental enrichment. Mental stimulation can use as much energy as physical activity.
Dogs have a keen and powerful nose. Playing scenting and nose games helps to provide mental stimulation. Agility classes combine physical exercise with mental stimulation. They are also great for bonding with your pet. Obedience training builds a stronger bond with your dog and provides mental stimulation. It’s best in short sessions though.
Nothing gets most dogs excited like a Kong filled with peanut butter. The challenge of getting every last drop provides plenty of mental stimulation. Some people go a step further and feed their dog every meal using a food dispensing toy.
A bored dog isn’t just more likely to be destructive – it’s also less happy and fulfilled. It’s important our dogs get enough physical and mental stimulation throughout the day. This can partly be achieved by allowing your dog to spend time in the garden (possibly with a dog door), but this can’t substitute a proper walk.
Even dogs that love walks will start to get bored if you use the same one or two routes each day. Repetitive routes are much better than no exercise, but they don’t provide as much mental stimulation. For this reason, try to vary your walks.
Give your dog plenty of time to sniff. Even if your dog isn’t off-leash, give him lots of opportunity to sniff and investigate. Dogs rely on their sense of smell much more than humans, so this provides lots of mental stimulation.
Dogs are highly intelligent beings needing physical and mental stimulation just like we do. It turns out that walking around the yard isn’t as physically or mentally stimulating as we hoped it might be. The solution to this is to actually take your dog out for a good walk or a jog. That way, your dog can be mentally and physically stimulated by interacting with the outside world.
Plan a route that allows for time off-leash (if possible). Not all dogs are suitable for off-leash walking. For those that are, try to plan routes that allow for at least some time off-leash. Dogs tend to sniff and explore more when given extra freedom, which provides extra mental stimulation. Be careful if your dog is off-leash around children though – and never let him out of your sight.