Dogs need to be mentally stimulated to be happy. And even more so in these days that we are living, in which walks and physical activity have been reduced. Here are a few exercises to keep your dog’s brain active and very well entertained.
The games that we indicate below, in addition to entertaining your dog, enhance his intelligence and promote your emotional bond. So they are a very good idea, now during confinement, and always.
To do them you need edible treats, imagination and the desire to enjoy time with your dog.
1- Carpet of smell
If you have a rug with thick hair, you can ask your dog to sit while you spread some treats on it. Then you can give it a signal to activate and start tracking with its smell and sight and eat them.
If you don’t have a rug, you can use several towels and take advantage of some folds to better hide the prizes.
If your dog is sufficiently motivated by the pellets in his feed to play this game, use them instead of treats.
Pick one of your dog’s favorite toys, or some edible treat that you know he loves, show it to your dog and hide it in a room leaving him momentarily outside while you wait. Then allow him to enter and let him look for the toy. With this exercise you will promote the search and crawl instinct.
Make sure to hide the toy or prize in a safe place, so that your dog does not hurt himself when going to get it.
3- Avoid obstacles
Choose a toy that your dog likes a lot and sweep his way with different obstacles. The idea is to make him have to think about how to get around them to get to the toy. Place the obstacles so that your dog has to go over the side, under or jumping over them, for example. It’s about increasing your ability to solve problems.
4- Interactive toys
Interactive toys serve to propose to your dog a mental challenge that he has to solve: he will have to find a way to get the edible treats that the toy hides inside. For this you will need to use its legs, its mouth, etc.
In the toys section of the website or the Mascot Eros app, you have super interesting interactive toys and games to choose from.
5- Trilero game
Take three glasses (preferably plastic so they cannot break) and hide a prize in one of them. Show it to your dog, let him smell it, and then move the glasses like a trilero would, and let his nose choose where the treat is.
With these five simple games you already have to have a good time at home entertaining your dog. You can progressively increase the level of each exercise, but try not to overdo it because, if you overdo it, your dog will get frustrated and lose interest in the game.
Why is your dog’s mental stimulation important?
Dogs are intelligent animals, and they need daily challenges. In fact, throughout time, dogs have traditionally been animals that have accompanied humans in different tasks (hunting, herding, guarding, etc.). All of these jobs involved constant mental activation.
Today, our dogs still need cognitive challenges, even if they live in an apartment and no longer go out to “work” every day.
Mental stimulation is positive because:
- Fight boredom.
- Keeps stress and / or anxiety levels at bay.
- Helps prevent behavior problems such as excessive barking or destruction of objects.
It is a solution against boredom
In nature, the senses most used by dogs are smell and hearing. And all the new olfactory and auditory stimuli pique their interest and keep them mentally active.
These days of confinement, our dogs have to settle for the smells and sounds of the house, because the walks have become shorter and, surely, less stimulating. So we have an opportunity to stimulate those two senses by doing some exercises at home.
Combat stress and behavior problems
Boredom and lack of mental stimulation can lead to stress and frustration. It is like when a child is asked to be still and quiet for too long.
Doing some exercises to activate the mind helps regulate levels of stress and anxiety, which are the main causes of some behavior problems such as:
- Excessive barking
- Constant attention seeking
- Reactivity and even aggressiveness
Playing activates the mind
Canine intelligence is surprising and, according to some studies, comparable to that of a two-year-old.
Dogs are capable of making decisions, solving problems, and understanding concrete concepts. Therefore, we can take advantage of something as simple as the game, to stimulate all those capacities. Because, while playing, the dog makes decisions, solves challenges and tests its ability to understand situations.
Playing is an innate behavior in all dogs. The tendency that all dogs have to play by developing their instinctive behaviors: hunting, searching, tracking, hiding, chasing, stalking …, can become a very useful tool to promote cognitive ability.