If dogs could talk they’d say ‘I’m bored’ a couple of times a day.

But they can’t. So instead they chew and misbehave and make us pet parents cross. That’s why mental stimulation for dogs is essential.

Keeping a dog’s brain stimulated is one of the most important ingredients that go towards keeping your dog happy, calm and relaxed.

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A dog dancing. How to provide mental stimulation for dogs

Ready for some ideas on how to provide mental stimulation for dogs?

 

Why Is Mental Stimulation Important for Dogs?

 

Even before you buy a dog, every dog owner knows that dog walking is a must for physical exercise and that teaching a dog the basic 5 training commands is necessary to live an easier life.

But what about mental stimulation for dogs?

How come nobody tells us about that?

How does that work?

Dogs need mental stimulation to keep them busy. To keep them tired and entertained. 

Much like you and I.

Without exercises to stretch a dogs brain, simple tasks such as crate training a puppy will be more difficult.

Because let’s be realistic. If we faced each day with nothing to do but eat and sleep we would soon start to climb the walls in frustration. We would do things that got peoples attention.

Without mental stimulation exercises, training your dog becomes harder and your dog can become destructive and bored or depressed and withdrawn.

Neither of which you want.

 

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21 Mental Stimulation Ideas To Try With Your Dog  

 

A dogs nose. Looking for mental stimulation

This nose will find anything…

 

1: Nose I Find It

 

Without your dog seeing, take a number of empty shoe boxes (or large plastic containers) and hide treats underneath one of the boxes.

Bring your dog into the room and say one word such as ‘start’ or ‘find’. Watch as your dog uses his super nose powers to find the treat! Repeat the same process and watch as your dog becomes more and more excited with this new game!

As his skill increases so should the difficulty of the puzzle. To further mentally stimulate your dog put a lid on the box or put the boxes on top of inside another. This game seems quite easy for us humans but can be a very tiring mental indoor exercise for dogs!

 

 

2: Lights, Camera, Action!

 

If you are at home with a small family then not prepare a dog show! Labradors, the Bernese Mountain Dog, Beagles, and Collies are just a few of the perfect dog breeds for kids and they all love to entertain and show off! 

Let your kids use costumes and have a go at training their dog to walk onto the ‘stage’ at the right times (your dog will also love the attention and applause!).

 

A dog dressed up in a UPS outfit. Dressing up provides enjoyment and mental stimulation for dogs

I’m ready for my close up

 

 

3: The Dog Treat Hunt

 

Take your dog into the other room, hide a variety of handmade dog treats (at least if they are homemade you know that they are filled with goodness for your dog!)  in the first room and then let her in.

Watch as your dog searches high and low for the well-hidden treats! 

 

Dog peaking through a door

Is it here? I think I saw where you hid it…

 

 

4: Guess Which Hand?

 

Again, sticking with the healthy dog treat recipes *as a side note, diabetes in dogs is very common. By making homemade dog treats you can illuminate the risk of feeding your dog any hidden sugars.*

Back to the next mental stimulation exercise! Sit in front of your dog, hold your palms out to her and show her your empty hands.

Now, as she sits nicely (she will need to know this basic dog training command in order for the game to be successful) take a treat and place it between your palms. Put your palms together and shake your hands to make fists.

The dog treat is one of your fists but now your pooch must guess which one!.

 

A child touching a dogs noseProviding . Mental stimulation for dogs

Which hand? Can you guess?

 

5: Fetch! 

 

The old ones are the best…

Most suited for smaller dogs or puppies, this exercise is not only mentally stimulating but provides endless exercise for your dog (and patience skills for you!).

Roll a ball across the floor and have your puppy fetch it back to you.

 

A dog with a ball. PLaying a mentally stimulating activity

Throw it again!

 

 

6: Bounce & Fetch!

 

A step up from the basic game – bounce a ball on the ground so it bounces higher than your dogs head and watch as she hops and catches it!

 

7: Stair Trotter

 

This indoor dog exercise is not suitable for older dogs or those with any kind of heart condition. Arthritis in dogs is also something to be aware of.

If your dog suffers from arthritis then skip this exercise. (Sorry old chap).

Although not so much of a  mental stimulation exercise, if you have a high energy dog and you live in a house with stairs then the simple task of having your dog run up and down the steps is the perfect way to tire your dog physically.

Stand at the top of the stairs and throw a toy down to your dog who is at the bottom.

Once your dog has the toy in his mouth call him to you at the top and then repeat!

 

A dog at the top of a flight of stairs

Shall I come down now?

 

 

336 x 280

 

8: Puppy Push-Ups

 

I love this dog exercise and find it the perfect way to entertain my dog indoors.

If you are still in the process of training your pup, know that there are some excellent dog training books that can help you master each of these techniques.

First, ask your dog to sit, then to go down, lastly, ask her to stand. Do this several times and you will notice how tired your dog becomes. Make sure that she is rewarded with a special treat and plenty of kisses afterwards!

 

 

9: Doggy Treadmill

 

  • A treadmill is a great way to provide your dog (and you!) with some indoor exercise and because your dog is being challenged to stay in the same place is also mentally stimulating too.

 

  • Make sure that you allow your dog to get familiar with the sight and sound of the treadmill when it is running.

 

  • Gently encourage your dog to stand on the turned-off treadmill and then give him a treat.

 

  • Set the treadmill to the lowest speed.  

 

  • Stand in front of or to the side of your dog and use encouraging words (and treats if necessary). You might feel more comfortable using your dog’s leash as a safety aid but do not, ever, tie your dog to the treadmill.

 

  • Once your dog is happy with this exercise, you can slowly begin to increase the speed to your dog’s fitness levels. Don’t let him overexert himself, remember, this is supposed to be fun, not traumatic!

 

A dog on a treadmill

Ok. I’m ready for you to turn it on now…

 

 

10: Interactive Dog Toy

 

Give your dog an interactive food toy to play with!

Having watched many toys be destroyed over the years by my dogs, the only interactive chew toy I would recommend is this super-robust Kong.

 

 

11: Name That Toy in One

 

If you find yourself at home with your dog more than usual why not take the time to teach her a new skill?

Take one of your dog’s toy and slowly say the name of that toy in front of your dog. 

Hide the toy in a room and ask your dog to find it. Rather than say ‘fetch’ use the name of the toy.

Say the command only once.

You do not need to keep repeating it over and over again, this is one of the most common dog training mistakes that pet parents make – y our dog will only ever need to hear the command once or twice.

The first round of this exercise will be easy. The fun starts when you use two or more toys! See if your dog can associate the name with the toy! 

 

A brown and white dog smiling.

Does it begin with W?

 

12: Bubble Chaser

 

Kids and dogs both love this game! 

Blow bubbles for your dog and watch as he chases and tries to pop them!

You can either make your own bubbles the old fashioned way out of dishwashing liquid and water (just be sure to avoid your dog’s eyes) or, if you are a real deal doggy parent then why not treat your pooch to this doggy bubble making machine that comes with …wait for it…bacon and peanut butter flavoured bubbles! Click here for prices.

 

Dog with bubbles. Mental stimulation for dogs

I swear this one tastes like bacon!

 

 

13: Piggy in the Middle

 

Remember this game from school?
The one where you never wanted to be the one in the middle? Well, your dog will love being the centre of attention and will get plenty of exercise and mental stimulation from this indoor exercise.
 
You will need quite a large space for this game.
 
Have two people to stand at either side of the room and the dog goes ‘in the middle’. Start throwing the ball to each other (above the dogs head) and watch as your pooch tries to jump for it!
 
 
A dog dancing. How to provide mental stimulation for dogs

Ready for some ideas on how to provide mental stimulation for dogs?

 
 
 

14: Job For A Dog

 

If your dog knows the basic 5 training commands and is familiar with the names of some household objects, you can give your dog a job!

Why not take the time to train your dog to collect clothes from the floor and place next to the laundry basket? This mentally stimulating game can be extended to your dog collecting toys from the floor or even fetching you items from another room!

 

A yellow dog hiding under a table. Mental stimulation for dogs!

Tell me what you want and where you want it and I’ll be right there.

 

 

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15: Roll Around Affection!

 

Your dog will adore this game most of all, and believe it or not, is an exercise that will quickly tire your dog out.

Lay on a bed, a rug or a couch — unless you are trying your hardest to get rid of dog smell in your house then it might be better to use a blanket that can be washed immediately afterwards! — and cuddle your dog.

Give her lots of ear rubs and tummy tickles and most importantly let her see that you adore her! This is a game she will look forward to the most!

 

Dog cuddling a woman

I love you. No. I love you more. No really. I love you sooo much more…

 

 

16: The Blanket Race

 

Kids will also love playing this game with your dog!

Push the furniture back to the side of the room and take a bunch of old thin blankets or sheets, spreading them across the floor.

Go to the edge of the floor with your dog and hold the blankets up. Encourage your dog to follow you inside and then race your dog to the end of the room! (Without coming out from under the covers!)

Remember to reward your dog with lots of treats afterwards!

 

17: Musical Rugs

 

Arrange four or five rugs, mats or blankets on the floor. Play some of your favourite music while dancing around or playing with your dog.

When the music stops issue a command to your dog to execute on a mat or a rug (such as sit or lay down). Reward your dog with a treat and then start the music again and repeat! 

 

 

18: Freeze The Treats

 

This indoor dog exercise will work best if you have a place which you don’t mind getting wet, such as a lino or tiled kitchen.

This works well with either treats or dog toys and is perfect for hot days when your dog needs a refreshing brain game!

Take a large bowl of water. Put one of pooch’s favourite homemade dog treats or chew toy inside, and then freeze overnight!

Take out the next day and watch as your pooch figures out that the more he warms up the ice the faster it will melt!

 

A dog with a ball on a towel. Mental stimulation for dogs

I got it out! Sorry about the wet floor!

 

19: Spa Time

 

If you have a fancy white dog breed that usually spends a good deal of time being pampered at the salon, why not save your money and indulge in some one on one spa time?

Take the afternoon and do a thorough pampering session. Starting with a bath to get rid of any fleas and to eliminate any lingering doggy smells.

Next, take a brush and use this bonding time to relax your pooch. If your dog suffers from itchy ears then now might be a good time to ease her troubles naturally. Olive oil for dogs ears is wonderful and you will find that it gently soothes any irritation. (Please consult your vet before changing your dog’s normal ear care routine).

 

20: The Muffin Tin Game

 

This is game provides excellent mental stimulation for dogs and is super easy to put together.

Put some homemade dog treats or kibble into some random holes of a muffin tin and cover each hole with a tennis ball. Place the tin in front of your dog and watch as he tries to figure out where the treats are!

 

21: Yoga Doggy

 

I haven’t quite figured out how to get my dog to do yoga with me, but this yoga mat exercise (that I found on this site)  provides perfect mental stimulation for dogs!

Take and unroll your yoga mat so that it is laying flat.  Sprinkle a few of your dog’s favourite treats on the mat and then roll the yoga mat back up tightly with the treats safely inside.

Watch how long it takes before your dog figures out how to unroll the mat and get the hidden treats.

 

Dog looking at the camera and smiling

Ok. Tell me when I can go and look…

 

FAQ

 

Q: How many hours of exercise does a dog need?

A:  Depending on the breed it is recommended that a dog needs between twenty minutes and two hours a day of exercise. Outside exercise in the fresh air can be supplemented with stimulating indoor exercises of both a physical and mental nature.

 

Q:  How can I exercise my dog in the winter?

A: Provide plenty of stimulating and fun exercises for your dog such as hide and seek, scavenger hunts and fetch and carry. Remember, brain training is just as important for your dog as physical exercise. Try training your dog with some of these fun brain games!

Your dog will still need to get fresh air but if the conditions are such that it is unbearable,  try and manage a twenty-minute brisk walk and then return home to another twenty minutes of interactive indoor dog games that you will both enjoy.

 

Q: Are stairs good exercise for dogs?

A: Provided that your dog does not have a heart condition, arthritis or any other ongoing illness then yes, climbing a flight of stairs a couple of times a day will provide a suitable cardiovascular exercise for your dog (and for you too remember!). Smaller dogs should avoid stairs as there is a potential risk of early joint problems. 

 

Dog biting a ball in a mans hand. Mental stimulation for dogs

 

Are you looking for a way to train your puppy

WITHOUT spending $$$? on extortionate dog training fees?

Click the image below to find out why THOUSANDS of dog owners

are RAVING about these PROVEN dog BRAIN GAMES to train their puppy with

Guaranteed SUCCESS!

 

 

 

 

Enjoyed This Post? Why Not Save It To Pinterest!⇓

 

 

 

Next, Why Not Read…

22 Common Training Mistakes That Dog Owners Make (Without Realising It)

Free Your Home Of That Awful Doggy Smell In 12 Easy (& Cheap) Steps

 

To Round Up – Mental Stimulation For Dogs in a Nutshell

 

Remember, just like humans, dogs crave mental stimulation and this doesn’t have to come by sending your pooch to an expensive doggy play date or investing in expensive toys.

Mentally stimulating your dog is about time and effort. Take the time to spend with your dog each day and you will find yourself with a happy, contented companion!

By using some of the above suggestions your dog will be stimulated both physically and mentally and will reward you with good behaviour. It’s just common sense.

If you know of anyone else who could use some ideas for ways to mentally stimulate their dogs then please be kind and share this post with them!

 

 

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