We tend to rely heavily on physical exercise but have you considered offering a mental workout to your dog? Although physical exercise is important to a dog many presume a dog needs to chase a ball or walk for hours to help tire them and yet they return home with a dog that is raring to go again!
Mental stimulation can be in the form of play, sniffing, training, puzzles and games. If you are concerned about the amount of food your dog is consuming then ditch the food bowl!
Here are a few things you could use your dog’s food for:
Stuffed Kongs – start off with something smearable and build to stuffing it with something like banana, porridge (made with water) or mushed biscuits and then freeze it!
Snuffle Mat – sprinkle their biscuit dinners or cheese, small treats in to the fleece
Scatter Feeding – outside idea on grass using grated carrot/cheese, peas, blueberries
Ball Pit – using ball pool balls scatter their dinner into a box
The Recycling Bin – use cardboard boxes, egg boxes, toilet rolls holders to hide food
Muffin Tin with Tennis Balls – place food under the balls can your dog get the food out?
Wobblers or Pyramids or Buster Cubes
Nina Ottosson Toys
General Training or Teaching Tricks
If you were to count the number of biscuits your dog has per meal in a bowl, that is a lot of food for one sit and one wait. Whereas if you were to take that food and use it for training you could get 20/30/40 things from your dog and therefore you aren’t over feeding. It will also help strengthen the bond between the two of you. You could teach your dog to settle on his mat whilst you are eating, to perform a play bow, loose lead walk or stay whilst you leave the room.
Alternatively why not use his toys to teach something new like down from a distance, to wait, to drop items or to tidy up?
Never underestimate the power of the nose. Getting your dog to find his food can really help calm him, build confidence, mentally tire him out and it helps with learning.
You don’t need to spend hours teaching a dog to mentally tire him out. By spending just 5-15 minutes a day offering your dog mini training sessions, playing with him (not throwing a ball) or putting his food into an interactive toy can relieve boredom and lead to a calmer, happier dog.
If you would like some ideas of what to put in your Kong please go to the Resources page and download the free Kong Help Sheet – ‘Get Stuffed’.
If you would like help with mental stimulation please email me firstname.lastname@example.org