Mental stimulation is just as necessary for dogs as it is for humans. We give our kids games to pick their brains all the time, like puzzle and chess. You need to constantly awaken new passions and interests for you dog to keep them intellectually engaged and therefore, in a healthy mental state.
While physical exercise is a must for every pup, mental exercise holds just the same level of importance. There is a big variety of mental exercise to choose from and to help prevent your pup from getting bored.
Adding some mental training to the physical one is a good place to start. Walking in different routes will encourage your pup to pay attention to its surrounding and exercise its sense of smell and recognition. Consider picking routes that are interesting for your fluffy friend, ones that hold a new adventure. Walk alongside a school street or a shopping mall or generally any area where a lot of people hang out. The important thing is to take care not to overwhelm your dog.
Start spicing up the games you and your dog play. Instead of the old school ball fetch, try to introduce new objects into the game and teach your pup to get the object you call for. Engaging your dog in a game of hide and seek, only with objects, can also be fun and beneficial. It will definitely put your dog’s sense of smell to use and help it grow smarter and more sharp.
Exercising around objects
Another great combination of physical and mental training is practicing sports with obstacles. Instead of the usual run, add obstacles in the way and show your dog how to climb on things, and slide under them to get to their finish point. Running beside your pooch would be a great idea as well, as dogs tend to look up to their owners for guidance. That way you can gently direct it to the next obstacle and demonstrate how to get through to the finish line first. These sports will demand your dog to not only think, but learn to pay attention and to follow you. The fact that the dog manages to conquer challenges and surpass obstacles in its way will definitely boost its self confidence. Such activities will also strengthen the bond between the two of you, as well as the trust. It’s a great activity for the both of you to take part in.
Training your dog to be obedient also means teaching it the meanings of certain words and body language. It is better to start with the simplest of words such as sit, stand, come and stay. They terms we use in our everyday lives and ones your dog has surely picked up on. It won’t be difficult to address it when making the demand and training it to follow your lead.
Dogs are creatures that are always striving for your attention. And when they notice how certain actions and behaviours of theirs leave you with a great reaction, they tend to repeat them. You can use your dog’s enthusiasm and teach it how to give handshakes, roll over, give a kiss, hug or dance. Giving them a treat every now and then would definitely enhance their excitement.
This activity requires your pup to use its nose and its brain to follow certain scents around until they find what’s looked for. It is a very useful activity to do together, because this time, it is your dog who guides the way. It is a huge confidence boost and will surely strengthen the friendship between you and your pooch. Tracking, however, requires a lot of discipline. You have to be ready to wake up early in the morning and to be prepared to walk the needed distances.
If your dog enjoys chasing things around and running after kids, putting it in charge of a herd of nice animals may be a great idea. It will be a great experience for your pup to get to mingle with other animals, and socialize with them. Seeing animals of different shapes and sizes and communicating with them is a great mental exercise for your dog and surely a fun activity for the both of you to engage in. It teaches your dog the sense of responsibility and also boosts its confidence when it sees how much trust you put in it. However, it is best to join in on herding clubs for this adventurous experience, as they provide practice. An instructor will know best how to train your dog and control it around other animals.
If you enjoy hunting and want to take your dog out for a joint activity, make sure to take a field test first to measure your pup’s hunting instincts and abilities. The simplest working certificate tests are offered by national breeding clubs and are non-competitive events where your companion may either pass or fail at finding and retrieving birds. The AKC also offers similar tests but on a more advanced level. These more challenging hunting tests are also non-competitive pass fail events, however they require stronger skills that could suit the atmosphere of an afternoon hunt. The most advanced and difficult tests are the Licensed Field Trials and those require specific professional skills that are unnecessary if you want to engage in simple hunting activities. These events are specifically designed for field trial enthusiasts who enjoy a difficult challenging competition. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to make sure your dog is enjoying the time spent and getting enough rest in the middle of all these fun activities.