We tend to be so busy and have so much going on in our everyday lives with family, friends, and working about 8 hours every day, that sadly our furbabies may not be getting the attention, exercise, and interaction that they need. Often times, this can lead to behavior that may seem to be "bad" or destructive, but usually this is just a dog's natural reaction to boredom. A tired dog is a well behaved dog. Without stimulation and exercise you may see excessive barking, chewing, whining, scratching, digging and other not so favorable behaviors. We should make ourselves knowledgable about why this occurs and how we can help provide the appropriate amount of physical and mental stimulation our dogs may need. Boredom and obesity are strongly tied together in dogs. In order to be a responsible dog owner we must make time for them. Here are some ways to help stimulate your dog and create the best life for you and your pup.
Daily walks are a must when you are a dog owner, but this must be more than potty time. Make sure that you are changing it up for your dog; choose different paths once in a while and provide them with new things to see and smell. Let them stop and smell their new surroundings. Remember that dogs can smell up to 100,000 times better than humans can. They learn and experience this way. My dog loved to stop and smell the flowers; maybe we can learn something from that. Also, try running or biking; this fast pace activity helps them to stay focused instead of having the distractions during a walk. This is a great way for them to get out that excess energy.
When feeding your dog or giving treats, try using a puzzle dog toy or an interactive toy. These will help stimulate your dog's brain and allow them to work for their food. Remember dogs were bred to work and this is exciting for them and can help keep them occupied. KONG Toys are great for this and are made for the toughest chewers. Also, if your dog gulps down food in a matter of seconds, like mine did, try a slow feeder. It will allow more time for them to actually digest their food and hopefully not have it come back up shortly after eating.
Nose Work Games are fun for your dog and helps to keep them mentally stimulated. Dogs who are old and new can play these games and learn new tricks. A simple nose game to try is "guess which hand the treat is in". Simply hide a treat in one hand, hold out your fists and have the dog sniff out which hand the treat is in. Remember, it may take some practice, so be patient with your baby and help them by rewarding them with the treat when they guess correctly. If they do not get it right, do not scold, but also do not reward them with the treat. This is how they learn. You can also try to play "find"; having your dog sit and stay while you place a treat in their sight. Let them know when to find the treat. After your dog gets the hang of how to play, you can start putting the toy out of their sight and they will use their sense of smell to find the treat somewhere else in the house.
Hide and Seek was my favorite game to play with my dog. I have some of the cutest and funniest memories playing this with him for hours sometimes. Once again, teach them to sit and stay while you hide. Use a command like find and they will run around searching every part of the house for you. Now I was able to get my dog to go hide also and I would find him. Give it a try; its so much fun and will actually keep you from being bored!
Simple Obedience Training can be a great energy release and a mentally stimulating activity for your dog. Dogs love to please us and are happy when they are able to do tricks and be obedient for their pawrents. There are many different types of training classes that you can take your dog, but the basics are great too!
Playdates and Socializing is very important for your dog, but be sure to pair them with dogs that have a similar temperament and behavior style. It is a must to really know your dog's personality in order to provide a low stress situation for a fun, beneficial, energy- releasing play time with other dogs.
Cold Treats are a fun and tasty way to reward your dog, or just to provide them with something that will keep them occupied and stimulated for as long as that frozen treat lasts. This is a great idea for a hot day outside. KONG Toys are a wonderful choice for these frozen treats, simply fill with a snack, like peanut butter, and place the kong in the freezer until you're ready to spoil your little love!